3. Self-publishing Fiction e-books in Kenya – Plagiarism & Copyrights
I’ll touch a little on this. Copyrights are a contentious issue in Kenya, mostly because there are many copycat entrepreneurs. When we talk self-publishing in Kenya, you’re mostly going to have your books published online, on your website or on international platforms. In this case, you, as the writer, you have to watch that you haven’t plagiarized someone out there. If you’re sure with your creativity, then the platform you choose helps you place copyright rights on your work.
Educate yourself on Creative Common Copyrights. They’ll help you protect your work. The Creative Commons copyright licenses and tools forge a balance inside the traditional “all rights reserved” setting that copyright law creates. Our tools give everyone from individual creators to large companies and institutions a simple, standardized way to grant copyright permissions to their creative work. The combination of our tools and our users is a vast and growing digital commons, a pool of content that can be copied, distributed, edited, remixed, and built upon, all within the boundaries of copyright law. Read More about this on their website.
I think people should never be afraid of sharing their work because of copyrights. If you can prove that the story is yours: that means keeping a clear record of development, from drafting, all fifty-or-so scribbled drafts and different word .docs you created in the process, to the final product, then you shouldn’t have a hard time proving your ownership.
In Kenya, you can decide to register your author name as a business/company to protect your creative products. Consult with a lawyer, and find out how this can be done. A good lawyer won’t mind having a conversation about these issues with you. Learn what you can do to protect your work legally. If you do catch someone stealing your work, take the necessary measures, grab the same lawyer and go to court if you can’t resolve it amicably.
If lawyers are not in your means, find out if the person is selling your work online. Google allows you to report copyright infringement, so does Amazon.com, and any other platform you choose to self-publish. Make use of the report button and follow instructions. If all fails, result to shaming them on your blog, social media, e.t.c, people will listen. No one likes a cheat.
Please note that the same process will be carried out on you if you plagiarize someone’s work.
In the end, it is all about your own integrity and responsibility. Be Original at all times, and know your rights.
Food for thought:
There are established writers who offer their work for free online. They go as far as supporting people who get their books in dubious ways. I think the point is to get as many people reading. The more popular a book is, whether it is through pirating or whatever, it gets staying power, and therefore more sales. Just a Thought. Sharing is not bad as long as you credit the author fully.
Outright robbing however, that is terrible. (This is when an individual takes your story, changes the names of the characters and decides to put his/her name as the original writer. This is wrong! Don’t Do It! Just Don’t)
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