Monday, June 25, 2007

Plagiarism in Portland?

IPBiz has discussed various plagiarism incidents (e.g., 6/18: student accuses prof of plagiarism; 6/15: one Sears home author accuses other Sears home author of plagiarism; 6/13: the Cha/Kim business in South Korea and in U.S.) but a matter in Oregon, about two reviews of the play "Floyd Collins", has some details of interest.
Better to read the text of Ian Gillingham directly at the Willamette Week Online.

The comment to the story made by Ben Waterhouse about "parroting the first round of reviews" is highly relevant to what has gone on with patent reform advocates parroting the stories of Jaffe and Lerner. If one is going to parrot a story about patent law, the "parroter" ought to check to see if the story is correct. Two additional nuances: with the '811 patent on page 144 of Innovation and Its Discontents, the story of Jaffe and Lerner is wrong AND, separately, misidentifying the patent on page 144 but telling the same story adds greater humor to what is going on. IPBiz's bottom line: Repeating wrong stuff, even with credit, is a greater harm to the public than repeating true stuff, without credit.

Like IPBiz has said before, pure plagiarism is bad, but, at least when the stuff is true, the public doesn't go off with fantasies, as it did with Jan-Hendrik Schon and Hwang Woo Suk. Reading either the review of Waterhouse or of Hallett would have given the consumer a true flavor of "Floyd Collins." However, when legal academics go off on bizarre tangents, like copying from page 144 of Innovation and Its Discontents (with mixed success), it's just sad.

To return to the review business, when a bunch of music reviewers (including one at the Boston Globe) were telling everyone how great the classical music of a certain woman was (when in fact it was "digitally remastered" from the works of others), the greater harm was NOT the similarity of the reviews, BUT THAT ALL THE REVIEWS (AND REVIEWERS) WERE WRONG. Consumers made bad decisions based on the bad reviews, just like Congress may be making a bad decision on patent reform, because it's utilizing information that is simply wrong.


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