08 February 2010

"i'd like to thank my parents and the internet"

helene hegemann is a german seventeen-year-old who has put together written a book on sex and drugs that has a very weird title. given these three factors and a decent marketing campaign, it doesn't come as a surprise that the book became a bestseller within weeks of publication. when a blogger from munich discovered, however, that wide parts of her book were copied from another blogger from berlin, the scandal was perfect. if it was a scandal at all, of course, and not just another ole marketing trick.

i wasn't originally going to comment on her work (i'm still not intending to read it), but after coming across helene's meddlesome apology where she says that she's habitually stealing inspiration from anyone, and that that was how the youth after the year 2000 operated, i would like to take the opportunity and disagree with her: just because you move about in cyberspace at your peer group's own liking, you're not allowed to randomly incorporate into your work whatever it is you might take a fancy to along the way. certainly not without indication of source, anyway.

building your reputation on other people's ideas (the final letter in helene's book appears to be a translation of the lyrics to a song called fuck you by archive) is not ok at all. but how could a teenager have known better? well, at least the feature writers who have praised her literary talent (DIE ZEIT, FAZ, ...) should have. bad enough that her publishing house practically denies responsibility concerning helene's plagiarism, stating that 'the author hasn't elaborated on sources used and by that underestimated the consequences of her decision to use citations from the net' (source) - as if contracting teenagers to sell them out aid their career automatically made the kids themselves responsible for surviving on the literary market.

as much as i hope for helene that she will understand her mistakes and will start to value other people's artistic work in a decent manner, i hope that she will leave the shark tank of the literary business as self confident as she dived into it. and as for sukultur, the publishing house that published the book where helene helped herself, and airen, its author, i hope they will collect adequate compensation. (press release regarding the matter on sukultur's homepage.)

UPDATE + + check out my friend katy's blog, too, she has a different opinion! + + UPDATE

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