Wednesday, October 08, 2008

On walking the [scaffold] plank

In an earlier post, IPBiz made reference to the "scaffold plank incident" (a story used to illustrate business ethics) and the ironic situation that an on-line company was selling papers on the "scaffold plank incident".

In a separate twist, IPBiz notes that the "scaffold plank incident" is taught on Semester at Sea, the drinking cruise that expelled Allison Routman of Ohio University for copying fragments of three sentences from wikipedia.

In the real world, one notes how little plagiarism counts, as seen most vividly by the absolute silence on Joe Biden's plagiarism of five full pages from an article in the Fordham Law Review. Joe did not get expelled from Syracuse Law School. [In one other bit of irony, note that Lisa Dolak is a graduate of, and teaches at, Syracuse Law School.]

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Read case study:
“The Scaffold Plank Incident”

In an article about a speech by Clark Maddux on the plagiarism of Cotton Mather,
one finds the following -->

Mather, like others in his time period, did not recognize his sources. In the 18th century, plagiarism, which is based on the right to own intellectual property, did not exist. Even though by present day standards what Mather and many others in that time did is classified as plagiarism, it was acceptable and common then. IPBiz notes for the nth time that plagiarism and copyright infringement are distinct concepts, and a charge of plagiarism is NOT based on the right to own intellectual property.

In the article, Mather's "sin" was copying two paragraphs-->

In Mather's "Biblia Americana," he takes whole sections and paragraphs from other writers on the same subjects. Simon Patrick wrote "A Commentary Upon the Two Books of Chronicles: Ezra, Nehemiah, & Esther (by Symond, Lord Bishop of Ely)"; Mather took two full paragraphs and placed it in his work, verbatim. Mather defended his writing method by stating it was for the greater glory of God and not for his personal increase of fame.

IPBiz notes, gee, Joe Biden took five pages and walked. Glen Poshard took more than two paragraphs and walked. Mather was a piker in comparison.

The article also noted: In Mather's time, many people believed knowledge was decreasing and limited; writers simply reproduced the ideas and concepts of others, adding their own opinion with it. The technology of organizing knowledge and the concern of owning ideas has since changed the writing method, according to Maddux.

Austin Peay State University needs some education in plagiarism and IP!

detailed account of the scaffold plank incident


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