Monday, May 14, 2007

New dimensions in plagiarism?

An article by ADAM ANDREW NEWMAN in the May 14, 2007 issue of the New York Times illustrates new directions in plagiarism.

Radar’s March/April issue cover article was entitled “Toxic Bachelors.” It appeared in English and illustrated the boorish behavior of certain male celebrities; an article in the April issue of Cosas, in Spanish and titled “Solteros Tóxicos,” presented the SAME celebrities manifesting the same poor behavior and included what appeared to be direct TRANSLATIONS from Radar’s article.

Needless to say, the celebrities are not happy. A letter from Charlie Rose’s lawyer, David Boies (remember Boies in the Microsoft matter, so long ago?), is reprinted in the current May/June issue of Radar. In the letter, Mr. Boies demands a retraction for inaccuracies, particularly a claim that Mr. Rose fondled a married woman. An editors’ note said the magazine had double-checked its source and would not retract the passage.

One might ask what happens to the plagiarist who reprints, without citation, libelous material? Is the plagiarist entitled to a defense of "publishing news (of others)" when the plagiarist did not cite or acknowledge a source? Does Cosas have a defense when Mr. Boies writes to them? Is admission of plagiarism a defense to libel? If so, think about the possibilities.

Separately, note the trans-language issue in Cosas, reproducing in Spanish, what had been written in English. Cosas seemed to acknowledge the problem, and withdrew its magazines. (NYT: "withdrawn the issue from newsstands.") The Times also noted: The Cosas article was published under the byline Manuel Santelices. In a letter to Radar dated May 8, Carlos Alberto Reyes, a Chilean lawyer representing Cosas, said that Mr. Santelices “did not warn of any similarity of his work with other publications.” He added that since the journalist had contributed reliably to the magazine for more than 25 years, “we did not doubt that his work fully responded to the upright norms always practiced by Cosas.” The magazine was willing to pay Radar the market price for the article, Mr. Reyes wrote.

"Different language" issues were present in the Cha / Fertility & Sterility matter. The Fertility & Sterility article, in English, had come from KJOG (Korean) which IN TURN had come from Kim's thesis, in Korean. If the Fertility & Sterility article, which does NOT bear Kim's name, comprises text from Kim's thesis, which bears Kim's name but not the names of any of the Fertility & Sterilty article, THEN there is plagiarism, plain and simple.

Separately, the Cosas "defense" that they relied on the norms of the author evokes issues with the Andersonville book. One wonders where the editors at the University of Tennessee and at Cosas were when the manuscripts were submitted?

Separately, one notes a discussion of instructive video on plagiarism. Now, if one could force Katie Couric and the Harvard Law School faculty to attend... However, as long as "plagiarize with pride" is a mantra of the Harvard Business Review, don't expect miracles.

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