China Lit and the New Plagiarism

China Lit (and similar plagiarists) are among us, folks.

What’s China Lit, you say? It’s a Chinese company that hires native American English speaker authors (rumor puts their staff at 1000 writers) to plagiarize classic American genre fiction novels. They seem to be targeting romance first, but I expect they’ll plagiarize everyone they can get away with, eventually.

They do this to avoid plagiarism search engines, which work by comparing passages of one book to databases containing the text of thousands, or even millions of other previously published books. A common way to check quickly for plagiarism is to copy a few paragraphs or pages of one book into a search engine like Google. Changing words in most sentences will prevent these search engines from popping up with a match to another book.

Here’s how they get away with it. They take an old manuscript that was good quality and ask their writer to change a word or two in almost every sentence. They likely change the names of the main characters, and possibly change the genders. 

China Lit then creates pen names and profiles for fake “American” authors, and then they publish these minimally tweaked stories…mostly on Kindle Unlimited for now. But they’re expected to start “self-publishing” via these fake profiles very soon…if they haven’t already

They will destroy KU, which, as an aside, is no loss to the publishing industry. It’s a broken mess that spammers and stuffers have all but completely taken over. When China Lit gets up to full steam–which should happen very soon, China Lit authors will take over the platform, using click farms to hire people to “read” the China Lit titles.

It also appears that a number of corrupt individuals are also engaging in this practice. I’ve heard it called “wordplay”, as if that somehow makes it less plagiaristic or less illegal than it is.

The only way to defeat this kind of plagiarism is for a reader to recognize a familiar story and then to do a side-by-side comparison of the original story against the plagiarized story. It’s insidious and nearly impossible to spot unless readers happen to recognize the original story.

The day is coming soon when readers will need to verify that any self-published author is real in addition to trying to verify that the story is original.

How we, as authors, will prove we’re “real”, I have no idea. But it’s worth thinking about now before the China Lit/plagiarism storm overtakes us all.

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