Thursday, October 19, 2006

Texas Tech student regent Greenfield resigns over plagiarism matter

The AP reported: Texas Tech University's first student regent resigned Oct. 17 after being accused of plagiarizing several paragraphs in a column he wrote for the student newspaper [the Texas Tech Toreador]. Chad Greenfield, a graduate student from Monahans, Texas, said he regretted having to resign but felt it was best for the university.

The AP report also contained the words "malicious plagiarism": Greenfield said it was a mistake. He said he was sick when he submitted the column and didn't mean to include text of the column without reference. "It frustrates me that it was portrayed as, I guess, malicious plagiarism," Greenfield said.

As one observation, in patent law, "intent" is not an element of patent infringement. One is guilty of infringement if one practices the elements of the claim whether or not one knows about the patent. WILLFUL infringement can lead to ENHANCED damages. In contrast, in copyright law, independent creation is a defense, although a "forgotten" access to the copied work does not amount to independent creation. In the plagiarism business, "forgetting to cite" the primary work has produced a variety of sanctions. One notes that students who fail to cite (at Texas Tech, Ohio University, Princeton, Georgetown) made out a lot worse than professors who fail to cite.

As an additional observation, while copying (without crediting) the work of another is a bad thing, publishing false things is far, far worse. Thus, the publication in the journal Science on July 28 of false things about continuation patent applications is, in my opinion, a lot worse than what Greenfield did at Texas Tech, but it has received a whole lot less publicity.

For an earlier discussion of the Texas Tech matter (including text by Justin Dove), look here.

Of the falsities in the Science article, see 88 JPTOS 743 (Sept. 2006).


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