I can be rather forgetful sometimes. Fortunately the population at large is filled with dumbasses. Today I got a notice from PayPal informing me that one Stephen Evans of The Crypt Mag (www.thecryptmag.com) rejected my request for money. The request was sent on Dec. 20, 2004. I was demanding that Stephen Evans of The Crypt Mag (www.thecryptmag.com) pay me $38.85 for reprinting my short story “Unholy Womb.” You see, Stephen Evans of The Crypt Mag (www.thecryptmag.com) copied the story for a Web site I did authorize to reprint the story and then Stephen Evans of The Crypt Mag (www.thecryptmag.com) pasted it into his online magazine.
Being reminded of Stephen Evans of The Crypt Mag (www.thecryptmag.com)’s thievery today made me do a Google search for my story. As you can see, a number of people have helped themselves to my copyrighted material. Of those, only Halloween Ghost Stories actually has permission to have the story online. I could contact every site that has it online, but there are pages and pages of them.
What the hell? Why do people think it’s okay to steal and repost material that isn’t theirs? I mean, I’m flattered that so many people like the story and want to share it, but come on! In most cases they even copies the hot link of my name that clicks through to an e-mail address of mine. Would it be so damn hard to ask permission?
The only good news here is that a Google search of the story’s first line did not turn up even more sites hosting the pirated story. That’s happened before, with this story and a couple of others. Some jackass actually reposted them under his own name. He stole a few of mine and some other authors’ stories, and there was a big uproar. Even Brian Keene got involved in that one.
Back on topic. This is not good. But I don’t know what to do about it. If it’s stolen and reprinted a certain number of times, do I lose any rights to it? What if I wanted to adapt it to a screenplay? Is the story even still mine? This really blows. “Unholy Womb” was my first published story, appearing in The Midnight Zoo back in about 1992 or ’93. I let Halloween Ghost Stories reprint it in 2001. Now, eight years later, it’s gotten around as much as a cheap Webcam whore.