Monday, March 07, 2011

Bizarre plagiarism piece in New York Times

In an article titled A Folly That Can Cost a Reputation — or Not, D.D. GUTTENPLAN rambles from the plagiarism of Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg to that of Seif al-Islam el-Qaddafi to that of Joe Biden, and then talks about patents and copyrights in the U.S.:

Although Article 8 of the U.S. Constitution secures “to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries,” the American record on intellectual property has long been mixed.

There's no followup on why "the American record on intellectual property has been mixed." One could have mentioned the complaints of Charles Dickens on copyright, but the article was silent on the "mixed" state of IP affairs in the US.

There are other omissions.

Of Biden, the Kinnock matter is mentioned, the Syracuse Law School matter is not:

In 1987 Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s presidential bid was derailed after it was revealed that he had lifted passages of his stump speech about being the first in his family to attend college from a speech by Neil Kinnock, leader of the British Labour Party.

The "big deal" with Biden's use of Kinnock was NOT the "lifting" of the text but the falsity of the story as applied to Biden. Biden was NOT the first in his "family" to attend college. At Syracuse Law School, Biden lifted five pages of a law review, without citation. That's plagiarism. Guttenplan ought to get the stories straight.

The article mentions ORI:

Today federally funded scientific research is monitored by the Office of Research Integrity. But while copyright and patent infringement are both considered crimes in most countries, plagiarism is a little harder to pin down.

Sort of true. The initial monitoring is by the grantee institution, not by ORI. AND, patent infringement is NOT a "crime" in the United States. It's a matter for the civil court system, applying the rules of civil procedure.

The article suggests it was surprising zu Guttenberg wasn't caught sooner:

Ellen Hazelkorn, dean of the graduate research school at the Dublin Institute of Technology, said she was surprised that in the case of Mr. Guttenberg the issue was not picked up at the time of submission or during his defense of the thesis. “Many universities use software such as Turnitin or Ithenticate to identify possible plagiarism,” she said.

IPBiz notes that, if the only protection against a copied thesis is Turnitin, then perhaps it is the thesis committee which is incompetent. If "experts" in the field can't recognize old ideas from the prior art, then they shouldn't be reviewing a thesis for orignality. And, said academics are in no position to criticize "poor quality" patents passed through by patent examiners, who have far less time to review things than do thesis committee members.

***Of Biden

Went to a garden party: does Joe Biden hide in your shoes?

On the Biden plagiarism incident at Syracuse Law School


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