Sunday, March 21, 2010

Posner plagiarism fallout reaches Facebook; lawyerly evasion?

In a piece titled Posner Plagiarism Flap Disturbs Garden's Peace, JANIE CAMPBELL describes how the Posner "Miami Babylon" plagiarism flap entered the Miami Beach Botanic Gardens and thence to Facebook:

The real sparks came after the reading when Lera asked Posner "Are we still going out for a drink to discuss this?" Posner exploded. His plastic face turned red: "Yeah, I'm a thieving c***sucker." "Yes, you are a thieving c***sucker," Lera replied. And then an elderly lady came running towards them: "This is a botanical garden. It's a peaceful place. Can you please take it some place else?"

[Full quote appears on miaminewtimes ]

The MiamiNewTimes piece carries a response from Posner, which begins:

You, as a New Times reporter, sent me the note for a comment only after you posted the account on your blog. You posted a second hand account, as Frank Owen was not even there. You gave me no prior opportunity to comment on its accuracy.

The response notes Posner is an attorney:

I reminded her I'm an attorney - and publicly posted "Gerald Posner shamelessly stole from my book." [sic?] At other times he called me a "douchebag" and "pussy" (the latter for defriending me from Facebook, which I didn't do, but which he did last night to me and Trisha after my reading at Botanical Gardens).

And, finally, one arrives at the issue of inadvertent (unintentional] plagiarism:

"I've already apologized twice," I [Posner] responded.

"It's not enough because you haven't admitted it's intentional plagiarism." [Lera Gavin]

"It's not. It was unintentional." [Posner]

"It can't be." [Gavin]

IPBiz notes that plagiarism is copying without attribution. In the age of Glenn Poshard, great significance has been placed on the element of intent. However, if it is apparent that there is COPYING, there had to be an "intent to copy." Words do not migrate from one text to another on their own. One gets to the "without attribution" part. In the world of copyright, attribution, in the absence of permission, does not avoid copyright infringement. In the world of plagiarism, "forgetting" to cite the source, for whatever reason, shouldn't be an escape hatch.

**In passing, one notes that the Posner incident had verbiage related to the concepts of theft and stealing. In recent discussion in the patent world, some have placed significance on the number of patent infringement cases that don't assert "theft" or even copying. IPBiz notes that intent is NOT an element of patent infringement, although damages can be ENHANCED if infringement is willful.

**from the Miami Herald:

"He resorted to lawyerly evasion," Owen says. "All this bulls--- about faulty methodology."

Earlier this week, Posner, who holds a law degree, told The Associated Press that a flawed research methodology caused him to put passages from Clubland in Miami Babylon without proper credit. Last month, Posner quit as chief investigative reporter of The Daily Beast after a writer noted several instances in which Posner used material from Miami Herald articles.

**Earlier IPBiz post


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