Plagiarism, again

15 Aug

The Cassie Edwards plagiarism scandal broke in early January. (Neat centralized pdf. document from the SmartBitches here)

Dear Author and SmartBitches—and a number of authors—wrote about it during the following weeks.

I posted about it here in March (including a number of links to previous discussions)

Signet finally dumped Cassie Edwards over it in mid April, which reignited some discussion.

By late May people, including well known authors of the stature of Lori Foster, were still wondering why there was public discussion of something that, in their opinion, was “between Ms Edwards and the parties involved”

In late July—well over six months later—there was a panel on plagiarism at the RWA National Conference in San Francisco, with Nora Roberts as one of the panelists. Conference room seating 200, about a quarter of the seats filled.

May I ask, what the hell?

Because even if you are an author who thought you knew all there is to know about plagiarism, copyright infringement, proper attribution, etc., etc., ad nauseam, there was still a Q&A portion of the panel where solutions could be proposed, and where specific instances could be brought to light and examined.

My inner cynic is starting to wonder if indeed many writers don’t want open discussion of this because of dirty linen in their own closets.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Addendum from the comment in the original thread:

Ms Foster, I know I don’t always express myself with the greatest clarity, so I understand why you may have thought that the dirty linen bit was aimed at you. Please do allow me to make clear that it wasn’t.

It still saddens me that a panel on such an important topic was so poorly attended. Yes, I understand that its scheduling created conflict for many attendees, since it was added to the program pretty much at the last minute.

However, to all of those clamoring for the ‘hordes’ to stop ‘flogging’ the poor plagiarist publicly, let me put it this way:

Every reader who buys a Cassie Edwards or Janet Dailey book is, in effect, buying stolen property. Most of them don’t know about the plagiarism accusations, let alone the proof of the same, so they are unwittingly buying stolen goods.

The fact that the cops won’t come ’round their houses to recover said goods doesn’t make them any less stolen.

But these readers–consumers, buyers–don’t know that, and as long as there are calls for “leaving the parties involved to handle the matter privately”, they will continue to buy stolen goods.

If instead of the thievery of intellectual property we were talking fund embezzlement, I don’t think people would be so willing to let the parties involved handle the matter privately. More than likely, news outlets would be called.

Again, call me a cynic, but isn’t it likely that if the consequences to the perpetrator are–if that much–a slap on the wrist, she’ll do it again, sure that she’ll either get away with it, or that the potential cost is definitely worth the profit?

Then there’s the whole “but I know what plagiarism it and what isn’t!” Given what I read online, from both readers, and published writers, I’m not so sure they all do know the difference between using research and cut’n’paste. Of course, I may be dead wrong.

But the cynic in me wonders if there isn’t a certain level of laziness from *some* quarters–something along the lines of “it’s worked fine so far, changing it would mean working harder, why should I?”

And lastly…

I may be preaching to the choir to keep on hammering at the poor glue which used to be a horse, on top of blowing my own horn, but if one person here (writer or reader) becomes aware of the problem, and shares that knowledge with someone else, I feel I’ve done something positive.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Further addendum: it’s absolutely worth the time to check the original comment thread, if only for Nora Roberts’ comments there.

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One Response to “Plagiarism, again”

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  1. I speak about plagiarism, yet again (and the peanut gallery groans) « Her Hands, My Hands - 30/05/2012

    […] those who just got here (hello, new peeps!) I have blathered on about plagiarism before, here and here (and those two links are chock-full of links, it’s a treasure trove of links, I tell […]

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