Friday, April 20, 2007

SacBee on plagiarism

The Sacramento Bee has an editorial of sorts on the issue of plagiarism, entitled The plagiarism temptation. One interesting statement at the end concerned turnitin: The reaction of 99.9 percent of all students (and 100 percent of all instructors) who use Turnitin like the service because it means their work will only be compared against the honest work of other students. It also means that their work will never be stolen and used by another student in another class. Some other students, who claim copyright in their work, may argue that turnitin is stealing their work. [For details of this problem, which the Sacramento Bee ignored, consider InformationWeek's Students Sue Turnitin Anti-Plagiarism Service For Copyright Infringement.] However, let's consider a different matter.

The SacBee article defined plagiarism: Plagiarism is taking anybody's work, anybody's original thoughts, written or spoken ... and claiming it as your own. And you can do that just by virtue of not documenting it.

Thinking about the recent discussion by certain people in California that Bongso should be credited for what is in Thomson's stem cell patents, what does one call "taking somebody's work and claiming a third party did it"? Glenn Curtiss claimed Langley, not the Wright Brothers, developed the first viable flying machine. This is not a direct theft, because Curtiss did not claim that Curtiss developed the first viable flying machine, but it is a theft, because Curtiss was trying to steal credit from the Wright Brothers so that Curtiss could evade the patent of the Wright Brothers and benefit Curtiss.

Same old, same old ...


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