Saturday, November 29, 2014

Work on Twain by Library of Congress uses text of others without citation?

An interesting matter in copyright law is brought up in the post
How the Library of Congress got caught up in a Mark Twain plagiarism scandal

An independent scholar, Kevin Mac Donnell, whose sleuthing I’ve written about before, announced earlier this month on a Mark Twain web forum that he uncovered a hefty amount of plagiarism in Mark Twain’s America, an illustrated biography by Harry Katz and the Library of Congress, and published by Little, Brown.

In his review of the book, Mac Donnell noted that its chronology of Twain’s life seemed to be lifted without attribution from Mark Twain A to Z, a reference book by R. Kent Rasmussen. Mac Donnell counted over 400 lines of prose that match Rasmussen’s text almost word for word. More scholars have since joined Mac Donnell on the forum in scrutinizing Mark Twain’s America, and they now say the text includes over 100 factual errors as well.

Yes, Doris Kearns Goodwin's name arises:

Of course this wouldn’t be the first time a sentimental survey of American history timed for a Christmas release featured a striking lack of original writing or fact checking. (A couple of books by Doris Kearns Goodwin jump to mind.) These accusations now surface about authors with alarming regularity. But what does it suggest about the state of American letters when the latest transgressor cited is actually one of the country’s oldest and most venerable libraries — the very institution where authors register their copyrights?


Relevant to some recent IPBiz posts about Nikola Tesla, note that Mark Twain and Tesla were friends:

Clemens would regularly visit with Tesla, engaging in stunningly intelligent entertainment such as shooting an x-ray gun at his head for fun. There’s even rumors that Twain’s story A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court, an early sci-fi classic, based its main character around Tesla.


And recall November 30th is the birthday of Mark Twain.

See Did Nikola Tesla Play a Practical Joke on Mark Twain’s Birthday? , an electrical variant of the old Ex-Lax in chocolate trick


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