BSV Forum - General - Off-Topic

"Real life" plagiarism

Jan 12 2008 03:38 am   #1Diabola

Its made it to the "real" news media by now, so some of you may already have heard about this:

A few days ago a book-review website noticed some odd breaks of style in a published novel. They did some Google searches on the suspicious passage and found it to be copied verbatim from an article of some nature or wildlife magazine. Further searches on other books of the same author revealed that most of them contain various paragraphs that originate with other non-fiction sources (most of them in the public domain).

As long as the original texts were in the public domain, what this author did is of course not illegal (no copyright infringement), but most people would consider it highly immoral.

Since plagiarism is a huge deal in the fanfic world (no matter if it would be considered legal in the "real" world), I thought this may be of interest to you. And hey, if it really leads to a public discussion of plagiarism in fictional texts, that should at the very least give you some more ammunition the next time you catch some twit plagiarizing your fic.

This is the site that first caught the copypasta mess. They have several articles up that deal with the issue and everything is pretty well documented (the Cassie Edwards case). You can find the links to all the other articles on there. It's in various local newspapers, as well as AP, CNN and MSNBC - and probably several others that I forgot about.
"The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has limits." - Albert Einstein
Jan 14 2008 10:42 pm   #2Diabola
Looks like we've moved from just plagiarism to copyright violation now. (At least it looks like that to me.) Not only does the AP article now include a statement made by an editor of the magazine (Defenders Magazine) that was one of CE's sources:
I'm glad that our magazine has inspired others to write about endangered wildlife," Defenders editor Mark Cheater said in a statement Friday. "But I'd like to note that our articles are copyrighted, and those who wish to re-use parts or all of these stories need to seek permission first."
But SBTB reported another instance of plagiarism in one of the books, this time not a case copy&paste from a non-fiction source, but several passages that are eerily similar to ones in Oliver La Farge's Laughing Boy, a Pulitzer prize winning novel from 1929. If the similarities are strong enough to be considered plagiarism, that would make the authors already weak excuse that she didn't know she was supposed to credit her sources in a work of fiction, worthless. (Not that "But I didn't know any better." isn't hard to swallow anyway, considering it comes from an author with over 100 published books.)

The SBTB gals chicks ladies bitches compiled a PDF document containing all the passages discovered so far, and comparisons to the original texts.

Btw, if you prefer less pink and more snark (not that SBTB isn't snarky), the whole thing can also be found on fandom_wank. Here and here.
"The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has limits." - Albert Einstein