Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Plagiarism charges against president of Korea University

Plagiarism charges have been leveled against Lee Pil-sang, newly elected president of Korea University. Apart from the charges themselves, the coverage by the Korea Times is interesting:

The revelation itself may not be surprising as plagiarism has been a rampant practice in our academic society.

What comes first to our mind is that the accusation cannot be overlooked with the excuse that this is a customary practice.

The summation by the Korea Times is also interesting:

Lee is alleged to have published two research papers in 1988 that were almost identical in content to theses written by his former students. Another dissertation he published in an academic magazine in 2005 is also said to be almost same as a doctoral thesis by one of his students. But Lee denied the allegation, saying that he drafted the research papers though the students wrote them.

The Korea Times concludes:

It is outright violation of the research ethics to announce the theses of his students as his because the basic idea came from him.

IPBiz has previously discussed the difference between copyright infringement and plagiarism. The rules of copyright infringement are not intended to a address a problem such as that involving Lee. Further, at the end of the day, when copyrighted work enters the public domain, the Supreme Court made clear in Dastar that anyone may assert authorship of any public domain work without incurring copyright (or trademark/Landham Act) liability. Plagiarism is more an issue for academics, who wish to assign proper credit, than for the intellectual property people, who want to apportion financial reward. If the Korea Times is correct that plagiarism has been a rampant practice in our academic society, then plagiarism is not going to be such a big deal, except perhaps to graduates of mechanical engineering at Ohio University and certain adjunct professors. The plagiarism charges against Jimmy Carter are all but forgotten, as were the problems of Laurence Tribe. The "take it and make it your own" philosphy of the Harvard Business Review is more the order of the day. As the Review said: Plagiarize with pride!

[Some of the issues with the impact of the Harvard Business Review philosophy on intellectual property rights are addressed in a coming article by me in JPTOS.]

In Antidote International Films, Inc. v. Bloomsbury Publishing, PLC, -- F.Supp.2d --, 2006 WL 3822484 (S.D.N.Y.), the court relied on DaStar for the proposition that 'origin', as used by the Lanham Act, doesn't refer to the source of ideas, concepts or communications. The Lanham Act does NOT protect the public against plagiarists.

Meanwhile, back at Ohio University:

Nine former graduate students accused of plagiarism will argue their defense to a university committee and hope to avoid sanctions that could include revocation of degrees.

The Academic Honesty Hearing Committee, charged with examining 34 former master’s student theses suspected of plagiarism, has reviewed 16 cases so far, Ohio University President Roderick McDavis said Wednesday [Jan. 3, 2007] in his first press conference of the quarter.

[Sean Gaffney, The Post]


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