Tag Archives: plagiarism

Why Would Cooks Source Magazine Steal Content?

Despite what Cooks Source Magazine editor Judith Griggs might want to believe, using someone else’s published content without their permission is theft – period. It doesn’t matter if you edit said content to make it “better.” The fact remains you took someone’s words and used them for your own purposes. Ms. Griggs should learn that not only is stealing bad, it’s far worse to be aggressive and rude when confronted by one’s wrongdoing.

When student Monica Gaudio discovered her work had been published in the magazine, she immediately sent off a letter to the company. Cooks Source used her article – nearly word-for-word – and even put her name as the by-line. Giving “credit” in that way isn’t acceptable, though. There was no permission asked for or granted to use Ms. Gaudio’s work. Had the editor admitted her mistake and acted like an adult, the offense may have been forgivable. Her reaction, though, is one that has set off a storm of criticism online:

“Yes Monica, I have been doing this for 3 decades, having been an editor at The Voice, Housitonic Home and Connecticut Woman Magazine. I do know about copyright laws. It was “my bad” indeed, and, as the magazine is put together in long sessions, tired eyes and minds somethings forget to do these things.
But honestly Monica, the web is considered “public domain” and you should be happy we just didn’t “lift” your whole article and put someone else’s name on it! It happens a lot, clearly more than you are aware of, especially on college campuses, and the workplace. If you took offence and are unhappy, I am sorry, but you as a professional should know that the article we used written by you was in very bad need of editing, and is much better now than was originally. Now it will work well for your portfolio. For that reason, I have a bit of a difficult time with your requests for monetary gain, albeit for such a fine (and very wealthy!) institution. We put some time into rewrites, you should compensate me! I never charge young writers for advice or rewriting poorly written pieces, and have many who write for me… ALWAYS for free!”

Are you kidding me? The girl should be thanking the editor for stealing her work? This woman needs some sense slapped into her, along with lessons in basic courtesy and tact. Judith and her magazine has lost quite a lot of repuation points today – a fact which can only harm the fledgling magazine in the end.

What are your thoughts on this? Do you feel that Monica is right to stand up to the editor and perhaps should look into filing a copyright suit?

Plagiarism Online

Via reader Dean Bailey, largely unedited:

I’ve recently started a blog of various categories. One of them is technology and although flattering when I fist noticed that I’d been copied and pasted with nothing more than an “original post” link, I by chance ran into the guy who did on a tech forum and broke my rule of getting angry online after reading the guy’s justification of doing so when his entire site is in fact the works of other people with “orignal post” links.

While I ended up being really annoyed over something futile, I managed to walk away from it quickly but it has left me wondering just where the line is in this sort of thing. It seems to be straightforward logic that if I cover something that I’ve learned on my own by putting together knowledge gained from various sources over time and write it out in my own words in a structured manner that took effort and care, that if someone wants to use what I’ve published, they should either get my permission, use it to make a commentary, make further contribution to the material, or have an opinion. The only thing that really would be applicable in this case would have been further contribution as it was just an instructional tutorial.

My best guess, because I assume that the same laws apply to the internet as any other published media, is that you can’t simply copy and paste the work of other people and then put at the bottom “original post” unless you have a reason for doing so that is beyond the scope of the original author.

It will be of detriment to my number of page hits when this happens, and the post in question is landing people at my site. My additional and more pressing concern regarding this though, is that I also write occasional short stories and I have some on the site. These I would like to share when I write them, for now, but at the same time I’d like to be able to republish them at some future point if I get enough content, an audience, publisher, etc etc.

After the exchange I had with the guy who reposted my tech article, I’m left doubting my instincts and wondering how safe my content is, in general, when I publish it online. I realize that people can take a piece of what I do and do what they want – praise it, correct it, add to it, scrutinize it, etc. What I am second guessing though, is if, and how, I need to take steps to protect content online, and if its even acceptable or not for them to in fact copy and paste from my site the way this particular person did.

How have you dealt with this? What would you recommend for anyone publishing content that they want to keep as their own and also have some level of control when it came to it turning up inappropriately on other sites? Additionally, since I’m hosting on an American site, for now, and in the example with the tech post, it was pasted onto a web-host in The Netherlands, just how much legal protection (assuming I have any) goes out the window when the circumstance is International law, and how much of a concern is it?

How much do you want to bet that content from this article is quickly lifted into random pages strewn about the infobahn?

Unfortunately, there’s not much that can be done to minimize the impact of plagiarism online.

You could threaten a violator with legal mumbo jumbo – but at the end of the day, you’ll have lost nothing but time and money that would have been better spent building a name for yourself. You could file a complaint with the Web host of a site, but don’t expect them to get taken offline anytime soon. You could slap some amount of DRM over any kind of digital text, but… assume that it’ll eventually be broken.

Since they don’t care about the trust of their “reader,” they can’t be trusted (themselves).

I’ve gone as far as to modify my RSS feeds to automatically include links back to the original news source (my blog, for example). Even in doing that, however, automatic attribution can be quickly circumvented.

The most prevalent plagiarists lack emotional capacity and moral direction; they obviously don’t care about you or any sort of law which might govern them. They’re bottom-dwellers. They’d eat their own family if it meant they could make a buck or two from it. Seriously. Plagiarism is typically practiced for direct (and indirect) monetary gain. Many spammers could (and should) be viewed as plagiarists.

Nameless, faceless Internet filth – far more insidious than what some consider repugnant.

A thousand people might try to hack away at your mindshare – but when you have the support of your own community, they’ll know who is original and who isn’t. Once someone earns the label of “plagiarist,” their reputation should be shot…

…and so should a plagiarist be when unmasked.

How To Lie Your Way into Harvard

Adam Wheeler is a criminal, but many believe he’s also at least part genius. After all, he successfully duped Harvard University for three years and won himself several meaty scholarships and prizes during his time there. According to court documents, Wheeler was enrolled at Harvard in 2007 after lying on his application about several key points in his life, including prior schools attended and test scores.

How To Lie Your Way into Harvard
Adam first attended Bowdoin College in Maine, but was suspended in early 2007 for academic dishonesty. He then decided to apply to Harvard. On his application, he claimed to have been a student at MIT for the year prior with perfect grades. He forged a transcript with letter grades on it, even though MIT uses a number grading system. How the admissions team at Harvard missed this one, I’m not quite sure. Wheeler also claimed to have scored a perfect 1600 on his SAT test. He actually scored around 1200. Again, the copy of the test score was faked and no one caught on.

While a student at the Ivy League school, Wheeler joined the Kirkland House and received a Hoopes Award for an English project he had done. This award is considered to be one of the highest honors an undergraduate can receive, and is given for outstanding scholarly work or research by students. The problem here is that Adam has been caught lying, cheating and plagiarizing many documents and papers. A team of 80 professors chose him as the recipient of this award. I’m assuming they checked thoroughly to make certain he had not stolen any of the content for this project.

Adam was caught only when he prepared to try his hand at both a Rhodes and a Fulbright… two of the most prestigious awards one can receive. James Simpson, a Harvard professor helping to go over these applications, noticed that there were “similarities between Wheeler’s work and that of another professor during the application review process for the Rhodes Scholarship. The professor then compared the two pieces and voiced concerns that Wheeler plagiarized nearly the entire piece.” Upon investigating, all of Wheeler’s other transgressions came to light.

Adam was dismissed from Harvard in October, but didn’t let that stop him. In January of this year, the precious young man submitted applications to both Yale and Brown. He claims to have been employed by McLean Hospital, a psychiatric facility affiliated with Harvard and provides recommendations from a hospital employee and a Harvard dean. According to authorities, both the statement and the recommendations are phony.

Wheeler is currently being held by Cambridge police pending his arraignment this morning at Middlesex Superior Court in Woburn. He is charged with four counts of larceny over $250, eight counts of identity fraud, seven counts of falsifying an endorsement or approval, and pretending to hold a degree. “I was just knocked silly by this,’’ said one Harvard professor, speaking on condition of anonymity, who likened Wheeler’s fabrications to a scenario from the film ‘The Talented Mr. Ripley.’ “There’s something that’s pathological there. And it’s something that seems to me that needs care and clinical treatment, rather than incarceration.’’

I still am baffled as to how this young man managed to get as far as he did. I understand that the transcripts and letters of recommendation were all on proper letterheads from the various schools and institutions. However, little things slipped through the cracks that should not have, including the incorrect grading system found on his supposed MIT transcript. I’m not saying that Wheeler is blameless. In fact, I tend to agree with the professor quoted in the above paragraph. This kid may need some type of therapy far more than he needs to be locked up.

At the end of the day, though, I do feel that the school should also take a good, hard look at their admissions process. There needs to be more fact-checking. In this day and age of identity theft and crime, schools need to have tighter selection and verification processes than ever before.

How to Make a GOOD Top 5 List

Geek!This is Jack Brolly’s submission for the HP Magic Giveaway. Feel free to leave comments for this article as you see fit – your feedback is certainly welcomed! If you’d like to submit your own how-to, what-is, or top-five list, you can send it to me. Views and opinions of this writer are not necessarily my own:

  1. Choose a topic that you are knowledgeable on. There is no point in getting all of your information from somewhere like “Wikipedia” and then making a list. Lack of knowledge shows. Also try to have experience in your chosen topic. It would be stupid to choose a topic that you know nothing about. You would be trying to advise people on something that you don’t even know about and that is never going to work. Knowledge is power.
  2. Be Original. Being original is very important! If it is a list that can be easily found by “googling” it then it is not an original topic. Being original also allows you to get more readers as they would have never seen a list on your chosen topic before. Before I chose this topic I googled it and I got no results that match this title, thus this is an original top 5 list. There is a lot of almost “Clichéd ” lists. Keep away from these. An example is “Top 5 tips for losing weight”. There are whole websites devoted to topics like that so it is therefore unoriginal and decreases the chances of your list getting hits. At the end of the day the success of your list will be judged on how many views or hits your list gets. Another part of being original is making sure the list is made up of your own content and your content only; this means do not plagiarize.
  3. Plan your top 5 list before you type it. Don’t rush into it, there is no race. By not rushing you might think of better points to put into your list. Type out 2 or 3 drafts until you are happy with the finished product. When you see a list that hasn’t been planned to tends to go off topic, points tend to be strewn about and it is very repetitive. So planning is another aspect of list making. The plan also helps give it a good structure which makes the points easier to follow.
  4. Spelling, grammar, punctuation and a varied vocabulary are important. If you want people to take your list seriously try to type full words and sentences. So instead of writing “u shud” write “you should”. It makes the whole list clearer. Good grammar also gives the impression of intelligence. It’s hard to take list seriously when someone is misspelling every second word. Punctuation also makes the whole list clearer. If you don’t punctuate then every paragraph would be a sentence. It is important that full stops and commas are there to give the reader a break to take in a point at once rather than a full paragraph. When varying your vocabulary there is no need to overuse big words. Try to keep the language intelligent and accessible at the same time.
  5. Don’t ramble, but don’t be too vague. Keep your sentences short and to the point. Don’t feel the need to go into a huge amount of detail. If you ramble on and go into a huge amount of detail when you don’t need to then you are possible boring the reader. Don’t be too vague. That way you are not effectively getting your point across. There is a delicate balance that you must find.