Friday, May 29, 2009

The Great Canadian Cut-and-Paste Caper

Early in 2009, there was a ripple of irony when it was found that Southern Illinois University [SIU], home of a plagiarist President, had plagiarized text in its anti-plagiarism policy from Indiana University. Now, in May, we have the the great Canadian cut-and-paste caper, wherein the Conference Board of Canada, supposedly an independent research organization, copied without attribution text from the Intellectual Property Alliance, a US lobbying organization, to advocate positions in the area of copyright. (This general plotline reminds one of the Mashelkar saga in India over drug patent policy, with, of course, the added sublime irony of having someone, complaining of copyright violations (Canada as the file-sharing capital of the world), guilty of plagiarism. Canada created a sillier story than India did).

The Canadian story was broken by Michael Geist on 25 May 09 in a post titled The Conference Board of Canada's Deceptive, Plagiarized Digital Economy Report . The post has side-by-side comparisons of original text and copied text, just as the SIU Daily Egyptian had for Poshard. GILLIAN SHAW of the Vancouver Sun has covered the story in Piracy reports scuttled by plagiarism claims.

Nevertheless, IPBiz has to take issue with one point by Geist, expressed in the following text:

That is just the press release - the report itself is even worse as it is largely a copy of the IIPA 2008 Special 301 Report on Canada. Given the lack of attribution in some instances, this work would face possible plagiarism sanctions in almost any academic environment

Academic plagiarism sanctions in the 21st century are largely non-existent. Ask Glenn Poshard at SIU or Laurence Tribe at Harvard. Even Joe Biden, who at Syracuse Law copied five pages of a law review article, merely had to re-take the course.

Separately, of Geist's text -- Even where there is attribution, the chart below demonstrates that the report simply adopts the IIPA positions and language as its own. -- one recalls that Mark Lemley accepts funding from Microsoft and takes Microsoft-favorable positions in law reviews and no one says much.

See also

One commenter to the Vancouver Sun article wrote:

Why is this news story not getting wider attention? Here we have a seemingly well organized conspiracy to influence Canadian law by a group of well funded American corporations. Hello? Does there even exist an independent press in Canada any more?

Hmmm, what would "Richard" think about Lemley's funding from Microsoft?


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