Monday, August 14, 2006

Occupants of Glass Houses

Plagiarism is a hot word on the Internet these days. Just look at the recent Kaavya Viswanathan scandal and Cassandra Claire fanfic mini-storm. Plagiarism is a very real problem, and one that should be taken seriously.

Let's look at the case of a certain blogger. Rose Desrochers has many posts on her website about supposed plagiarism on the 'Net. I'd actually call her rather rabid about "exposing" people and accusing them of stealing, copyright infringement, and other vile things. There appears to be no gray in Rose's world. Everything is black and white, and when something is black, it is BLACK!

Well....

Yesterday, she posted an item on her blog regarding a news article on Internet service providers' methods of cracking down on child porn. A good subject for a blog, no doubt. However, here are excerpts from her post about the article side by side with the wording from the original article. Note that Rose's post includes no quote marks to indicate the passages she lifted from the article.

Rose: …will be jointly building a database of known child porn images, creating a unique mathematical signature for each as well as develop other tools to help network operators and law enforcement better prevent distribution of those images...

Original Article: …will jointly build a database of child pornography images and develop other tools to help network operators and law enforcement better prevent distribution of the images.

Rose: AOL, plans to check e-mail attachments which are already being scanned for viruses.

Original Article: AOL, for instance, plans to check e-mail attachments that are already being scanned for viruses.

Rose: If child porn is detected, AOL would refer the case to the missing children’s center for further investigation.

Original Article: If child porn is detected, AOL would refer the case to the missing children's center for further investigation ...

Hmm, a clear-cut case of plagiarism in my opinion.

In all fairness, it is hard to summarize a news article about something this specific without quoting large chunks of it. That doesn't make it right to do it, it just means one needs to be very careful -- OR -- if it were me, I would have just quoted the first couple of sentences literally and with attribution and then directed my readers (all four of them!) to the full article.

28 comments:

Anonymous said...

Ahhh, Rose Desrochers shows her stripes once more.

Rose DesRochers said...

Everyone knows that plagiarism is the act of appropriating the literary composition of another author, or excerpts, ideas, or passages therefrom, and passing the material off as one's own creation as defined by the Glossary of Library Terms.



I quoted a few lines of an article and linked to further reading of the article, hardly plagiarism.

Articles from ezines or national news outlets cannot be posted in their full entirety though several blogs do.


The first paragraph, first few sentences, or a quote from the article is fine, but posting the full article without permission from the source is a copyright violation.

I only quoted a few lines.

Rose DesRochers said...

I guess you missed this- "Linking Information"

You may hyperlink directly to any article on any ECT News Network publication. Please note however that only the name and/or URL of the publication to which you are linking, the headline and at most the first 80 words of the story may be reproduced unless additional permission is obtained directly from ECT News Network. A brief synopsis of the article accompanying the text link is also permissible.


I'm over by two words- oh no!

Julie Doe said...

Several problems, Rose, with your statements here:

You said "I quoted a few lines of an article".

Problem 1. You didn't put your supposed "quote" in quote marks, indicating that you were citing something. Oops.

Problem 2. The sentences you supposedly "quoted" weren't literal quotes from the article. You altered the three sentences--deleting stuff from the last two and rewriting the beginning of the first one to say "According to [the news source]..." The original sentences were close, but not indentical. Oops. Not a quote.

Problem 3. Your "quote" wasn't contiguous sentences in the article. You picked information out of different sections, but presented it as one block. Oops. Not really quoting were you.

Sorry, Rose, you're busted. You lifted text from an article, altered it slightly and pretended it was yours. Subsequently directing your readers to the article only shows them where you lifted the text from.

Julie

Rose said...

I never lifted content and pretended that those words were mine. This is nothing more than a witch hunt.

Indigo Black said...

Rose said...

I never lifted content and pretended that those words were mine. This is nothing more than a witch hunt.


Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!

Oh wait, you're serious.

yngathrrt said...

Hi Julie,

Surprise! Well, I am. The cable was due to be cut off yesterday. Since it was still on, I thought I would add a comment.

Excellent come back with the facts per Rose's comments. I noticed that she could not answer your come back with more details than just a witch hunt. When the shoe is on the other foot, it does not fit so well with her.

If I get a chance, I will email Indigo and have her also place your link in my daily reads. You write some great stuff (Besides the Rose stuff.)

I am sure you are now considered one of the bad witches. LOL

Hugs,
Katie

Julie Doe said...

Katie, glad you stopped by. Yeah, I suppose I am going to be labelled a witch. Oh wait, Rose said I was starting a witch hunt. Does that mean I'm a witch hunting a witch (Rose)? Or maybe I'm a bitch hunting a witch :) Please be safe traveling.

Indigo, yup, I think she seriously does not understand what she has done wrong. Was it intentional plagiarism or just a mistake because she doesn't understand plagiarism and how to cite others' work? I don't know. And that gives me even more reason to suspect anything she has ever posted about copyright violations, plagiarism, etc.

Rose, honey, if you're going to quote someone else's writing, you have to quote her literally (that means you can't rearrange her words) and you have to put the words inside quotation marks (the little things that look like this " " " "). It's just that simple.

Rose DesRochers said...

I wrote ECT News Network and requested that they view the post in question. Here is their reply.

Rose,

Thank you for your inquiry. You're fine.

Good luck with everything.

ECT News Network
Response Team

Julie Doe said...

Thank you for your inquiry. You're fine.

That just means you're no longer infringing on ECT's copyright (which I didn't bring up in my original post). They have given you permission to use their words.

But it's still plagiarism because you're presenting large chunks of ECT's text as your own words.

Sheesh, would it really be so tough to just use the exact language from the article and put some freaking quotation marks around it?

Bob! said...

Definitions of Plagiarism on the Web:

the act of appropriating the literary composition of another author, or excerpts, ideas, or passages therefrom, and passing the material off as one's own creation.
http://ucblibraries.colorado.edu/about/glossary.htm

or how about this one-
Plagiarism refers to the use of another's ideas, information, language, or writing, when done without proper acknowledgment of the original source. Essential to an act of plagiarism is an element of dishonesty in attempting to pass off the plagiarised work as original. Plagiarism is not necessarily the same as copyright infringement, which occurs when one violates copyright law. ...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plagiarism

The link at the end of Rose's blog to the origanal article which looks to me to be "proper acknowledgement of the origanal source", oh! and it appears that is also ECT's opinion as well.

Cparker said...

well, if ECT says that she isnt guilty of plagiarism then she's not. she asked them to look over what she had written and they said she is fine... so she is. she didnt try to say it was her own work, she said where she got all of her information from.

Julie Doe said...

Guys, I think you are confusing the plagiarism (using someone's words and pretending they are your own) and copyright infringement (using someone's words without his/her permission).

ECT -- or ECT's reporter -- owns the copyright on the words that Rose used in her post. All ECT can do is say whether it is OK with them if Rose uses their words. They said OK, so no copyright infringement.

Plagiarism is a different, as you all should know since you've been playing fun-with-cut-and-paste. Whether the original author gives permission to use the words or not is irrelevent. How the words are presented is key.

So one more time...

Rose wrote a blog post using exact wording from the ECT article. The post DOES NOT say that the article is quoted, and Rose DID NOT put the phrases she used in quotes. Nowhere in the post does she acknowlege that it is not her own writing. The hyperlink alone is not credit; she still needs to indicate the quoted phrases.

Therefore, she is passing her post off as her own writing. A reader would not know that she quoted the article unless he read the article (or this discussion). That's dishonest. That's plagiarism.

The fact that the owner of a writing site does not understand something this basic is scary.

Julie Doe said...

The link at the end of Rose's blog to the origanal article which looks to me to be "proper acknowledgement of the origanal source"

No. Proper acknowledgement of the source consists of identifying "exactly what" was taken from "where". Rose did not identify the "what" and did not say that anything was used from the "where". The whole post gave the impression that she was summarizing in her own words what the article was about and then recommending people go read it.

Indigo Black said...

The fact that the owner of a writing site does not understand something this basic is scary.

And the fact that the members of her site don't understand what plagarism is speaks volumes as to how that community is being run.

Take a look at most real freelancer's blogs and websites and you will see that when they all follow the same pattern when it comes to using other people's work. That's why when you quote someone on forums, the quote button puts the section in question in a little box puts the poster's name on it and seperates it from the rest of your post so that people don't think that you are the one who originally said that.

Welcome to Witchhood Julie. Be careful of falling roses, I mean, houses. :)

yngathrrt said...

This is so rich. I wish I had time to comment more on this.

Rose, be careful about any come backs comments on this, and have your facts straight, as these are people that do not comment at all until they have their facts and laws and regulations straight, and are knowledgeable of what they place in comments.

Katie

Bob! said...

Rose didn't ask ECT is she had broken the copyright with that post, she asked them about plagiarism and they said she was fine. Copyright was never mentioned in her email to them. The only one confused here seems to be yourself and I'd like to know why your still defending your orignal (illegally made with no proof) accusations?

Julie Doe said...

Rose didn't ask ECT is she had broken the copyright with that post, she asked them about plagiarism and they said she was fine.

Bob, as I said above, plagiarism has nothing to do with permission from the copyright holder. The original copyright holder can only settle the matter of copyright infringement.

They cannot settle the matter of plagiarism. They have no standing. They can only have an opinion -- just like I do.

Frankly, I have no idea what Rose asked ECT or if ECT even looked at her post. It could very well be that ECT thinks that settling a dispute over a post on a small blog isn't worth their time and just told her she was fine to get rid of her. OTOH, I know that I have seriously considered the matter. I'm sticking with my opinion.

I'd like to know why your still defending your orignal (illegally made with no proof) accusations?

Illegal? *snort* Get off it, Bob. I'm not stupid. It's not illegal. I posted my well-reasoned opinion, backed up with examples from Rose's post.

Bob! said...

Well I don't know about the laws in your country, but you did break at least two in this one. So no I won't get of it. Slander and false accusations are both illegal here regarless of whither it's on the net or not.

Bob! said...

My apologies, I haven't read up on these for abit and I made a slight error in stating slander as that's the spoken word. I meant Libel, of which you are guilty.

Julie Doe said...

Bob, I don't know which country you're in, but here in the good old U. S. of A., it's perfectly legal -- and non-libelous -- for me to state an opinion based on correctly presented facts.

I clearly stated in my post that it was my opinion that she plagiarized. I also reiterated that it was my opinion later in the comments, just so no one would forget that little detail.

I also showed that I based my opinion on the excerpts from her post and original article (them's the facts). The excerpts are correct, and I do have the printouts of both pieces should I ever be asked.

So not libel, but fair comment. But gosh, Rose and her supporters really like to throw that word around, don't they, Bob?

Well...actually, y'all usually scream slander, so I'm glad to see someone FINALLY figured out 1) that libel is the correct term for written works and 2) how to spell libel correctly.

False accusations? Nope. I haven't filed a formal civil or criminal accusation. That's the type (formal) of accusation where making a false one is a crime. Informal accusations (outside the legal arena) fall under libel or slander as I understand the law. And as I said above, I haven't committed libel.

Nope, I've simply expressed my opinion based on the facts. It's legally protected speech.

Bob! said...

Bob, I don't know which country you're in, but here in the good old U. S. of A., it's perfectly legal -- and non-libelous -- for me to state an opinion based on correctly presented facts.

Sorry, hadn't realised I hadn't mentioned my country. I'm from the UK.

I clearly stated in my post that it was my opinion that she plagiarized. I also reiterated that it was my opinion later in the comments, just so no one would forget that little detail.

Far enough you think she plagiarised I think she paraphrased. God help us all if that was plagiarism though as there are alot of us going to be screwed if that's true.

I also showed that I based my opinion on the excerpts from her post and original article (them's the facts). The excerpts are correct, and I do have the printouts of both pieces should I ever be asked.

I have read both several times and ok the are similar, buy as I said above alot of us are in trouble if that's plagiarism.

So not libel, but fair comment. But gosh, Rose and her supporters really like to throw that word around, don't they, Bob?

No idea about these supporters you mention as I only met Rose about three weeks ago and don't know many of the people posting but the word does come up alot and for good reason and that's my opinion.

Well...actually, y'all usually scream slander, so I'm glad to see someone FINALLY figured out 1) that libel is the correct term for written works and 2) how to spell libel correctly.

I read the defintion of both and copy/pasted the spelling from someone else's site. I couldn't actually remember which was which and thought I'd check.

False accusations? Nope. I haven't filed a formal civil or criminal accusation. That's the type (formal) of accusation where making a false one is a crime. Informal accusations (outside the legal arena) fall under libel or slander as I understand the law. And as I said above, I haven't committed libel.

False accusations yes. You made the accusations and they are false, here that's illegal (UK as I stated in previous post, but forgot to mention the country).

Nope, I've simply expressed my opinion based on the facts. It's legally protected speech.

Considering what we see here in the UK that americans sue each other for all the time I would be very careful with that thought.

Julie Doe said...

I think she paraphrased.

Bob...*sighing ruefully**...I suppose we are never going to agree on this, but I really hope that you don't buy into the idea that wholesale copying of text is not plagiarism if one simply deletes a word or two from it. Because that is what Rose did.

I have read both several times and ok the are similar,

Similar? They are almost freaking identical!

buy as I said above alot of us are in trouble if that's plagiarism.

I agree with on this point. If you (hypothetical "you", not you "you") use someone else's writing--complete sentences, almost word for word--without indicating that it's someone else's, you should be in trouble.

False accusations yes. You made the accusations and they are false,

No, look...I expressed an opinion. My opinion is that she plagiarized, and your opinion is that my opinion is false. You can call it an accusation if you wish, but then you're using the layman's definition of accusation and extrapolating to the legal system. That doesn't work. An accusation has a specific meaning in the legal system. And--I believe the U.S. courts will agree with me here--stating a well-reasoned opinion which is backed up by facts is not the type of "accusation" that can give rise to any sort of civil or criminal penalties.

Considering what we see here in the UK that americans sue each other for all the time I would be very careful with that thought.

Rose is not going to sue me. And even if she did, I'd request a summary judgement--the case would be history, and I would go after her for attorney's fees.

Bob! said...

I hope you do not think I was impling Rose would be sueing anyone as that was not what I was meaning in any way what so ever and I'm sorry if it came across this way. That was simply a comment on the sad state of affairs the world seems to be coming to where people sue of almost anything and wasn't related to this.

You are right of course, we will probably never agree on this. You see plagarism I see paraphrasing, but since I've read the reply from ECT with the origanal email from Rose inside it I'm going to have to trust them and there views on the issue. Whither they read Rose's post is irrelevant, their opinion on there own work is really truely the only opinion that matters.

Anonymous said...

I have a feeling that, normally, what Rose did wouldn't even have been noticed. The problem is that Rose herself leaps with such ferocity (and, might I add, such glorious misspellings and malapropisms) at people that in her mind have broken the letter, if not the spirit, of certain regulations.

The temptation to point out to Rose that she doesn't hold herself to the same "standards" can be overwhelming.

Julie Doe said...

Anon, you are right. If I had run across this on some random blog, I wouldn't even have mentioned it. However, since Rose nitpicks things others in on-line writing communities do and then never lets someone forget if he/she did make a mistake, I, well,...thought Rose ought to be held up to the same scrutiny.

Julie Doe said...

I found some silliness on the ‘Net and thought I would share. I tried to respond on the blog where it originated but, of course, the blog owner – someone who goes by the name Sarah Smith (y’all can search for the blog yourselves) -- has comment moderation enabled. My response was apparently not deemed worthy.

Her posts are in italics. My admittedly snarky responses are not.

Rumor has it that Julie Doe has made libel statements against a fellow blogger on her blog and the blog of one of her friends.

Yup, it wouldn’t surprise me a bit if Rose complained to her minions about my post. I guess that qualifies as a rumor.

A lawyer needs to tell Julie that there is a huge difference between expressing an opinion and misleading others to think that a fellow blogger plagiarized the content of a news article.

Misleading? *snort* The basis for my opinion is right in the blog post--quotes and links and all. Any reader can easily see the facts.

Misleading other's is called libel Julie.

Well, I just dealt with “misleading” fallacy, but you still better check the definition of libel, honey. And while you’re at it, look up plagiarism and the proper use of commas and apostrophes.

Julie Doe said...

Well, Sarah responded and I responded back...and she didn't post my comments. Since I hate to waste a good lesson, I'll post it here.

You can read what I am responding to at http://gossiponlineblog.blogspot.com/2006/08/weekend-gossip.html

Here goes:

I know I said I was done, but I have a few minutes here to respond and the misunderstanding is still rampant.

*sigh* Once again, you have copyright confused with plagiarism. I don’t know how many more times, and how many different ways, I can explain the same freaking thing. ECT granted Rose permission to “reproduce” their words. That relates to copyright only.

Rose did say that the content posted was from the news article. According to a news article by ECT News Network and Associated Press,’ says Rose.

That doesn’t cut the mustard, as they say, without quote marks. Consider:

According to Charles Darwin, humans must have evolved from goddamn dirty monkeys. That just ain’t true, I tell you.

Does that mean that Darwin literally said “Humans must have evolved from goddamn dirty monkeys. This just ain’t true”? No. Clearly Darwin never said any such thing, nor would the average reader assume so. The writer is paraphrasing Darwin’s theory in her own words.

In Rose’s case, I suspected that she was quoting, rather than paraphrasing, because the lines demonstrated more writing skill than I’ve ever seen from Rose. The average reader won’t assume that, though.

You failed to leave out this part”Other experts say that absence of quotation marks is not by itself plagiarism,” according to Wikipedia.

“by itself” is the key phrase. You have to consider the context and what is being used. For example, if I write a blog post about…oh, say…Colin Farrell, and I start it like this:

Oh, Colin, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

And I don’t put the above line in quotes. Most of those two sentences belong to Shakespeare. Is that plagiarism? Well, no. The line is a highly recognizable quote from a famous poem, and the average reader would recognize it and know that I am just being silly.

Another example. Let’s say I start a blog post about Louis Pasteur with:

Louis Pasteur discovered germs. It was one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.

The second sentence above is also (mostly) not mine. Is that plagiarism? No. The line is, again, highly recognizable. You’d have to have lived under a stump for the last 37 years to not know who said this and what he was actually stepping on at the time. In this case, it is being used because of the connotation. I’m comparing the opening up of a medical frontier with the opening up of the space frontier.

In both cases, deception is neither likely nor intended.

No where does she claim to have written it

It’s on her blog. It’s not quoted. It’s not cited. It’s not a well known quote. Etc. What else is a reader to think?

So what if she failed to put quotation marks around the exact quotes.

This comment says it all.