Sunday, August 09, 2009

Prison poet plagiarists

In June 2008, when IPBiz was discussing the Palo Alto High School plagiarism incident (the graduation speeches had been copied from elsewhere), one commenter wrote

Perhaps this ought to be taken as a lesson that "life isn't fair" for those who were denied in favor of Abid and Veerappan's cribbing abilities.

The point being that rewarding some for plagiarism denied others who were original and did not plagiarize.

Flash forward to 2009, and one has an interesting story about prison inmates in Britain competing for a 25 pound prize for best poetry.

In a post titled Prison poets caught in plagiarism bid, one has the text:

"By cheating you are spoiling it for those that submit genuine pieces of poetry. Not only that, you are laying yourselves and Inside Time open to possible law suits."

Some of the prison poets had re-imagined (as TechDirt would say), lines from James Brown (King Heroin ) and Robert Frost (Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening ). The gist of the Telegraph story:

The prisoners' newspaper Inside Time has introduced strict checks on its poetry page because some contributors had copied out well-known poems and submitted them under their own names.

Returning to the PALY High incident, there was not only the issue that the graduation speeches were plagiarized but also that there was other cheating going on. In comparison recall the movie "The Glass House," starring Leelee Sobieski as the character "Ruby Baker", a high school student who got nailed twice for plagiarism and got rather stiff penalties. In context, "Ruby" did not think plagiarism was a big deal, and in no way was re-imagining anything. [Ruby's mother, Grace Avery-Baker, was played by Rita Wilson (uncredited)]

The Glass House [Bruce Dern plays a rather clueless lawyer who ends up getting knifed by loan sharks. Shades of Jurassic Park. Kathy Baker plays a rather gullible social worker. The only "competent" adult in the movie was the teacher at "Malibu West" who recognized Ruby's plagiarism, without even going to the internet. Real-world plagiarists such as Laurence Tribe typically get more traction.]

Plagiarism at PALY High (Palo Alto, CA)
[Sadly, using the link at IPBiz gives one the message: Thank you for visiting San Jose Mercury News. We are sorry the article that you requested is no longer available.]

TechDirt: plagiarism as re-imagination and collaboration


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