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Old 02-12-2010, 01:45 PM   #1
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Plagerism Okay?

"Author, 17, Says It’s ‘Mixing,’ Not Plagiarism"

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/12/wo....html?ref=arts
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Old 02-12-2010, 02:01 PM   #2
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Bah. At first, I thought this was going to be a situation where the author just took ideas from another. Legally and ethically, that sort of thing is okay. Ideas get used and reused a hundred times over.

But actually taking physical text and swapping words out here and there? No. If you're going to take an idea, maybe even an entire scene, at least rewrite it. Even if this girl's book is great, the notion that she ripped off another author's words smacks of supreme laziness.
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Old 02-12-2010, 03:10 PM   #3
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And this is the future of society. Ugh. I remember when the Harvard girl made the news.

ZOMG 17 year old writer!!!!! AMAZING!!!!! WTFPWN!! I WANT HER WIERKS! SHE IS TEH HAWT!!!!!!!

In reality. Spit happens, but ya know -- to paint by numbers from some other "more obscure" work makes me sick. To change one word, two words, or even rewrite the character from male to female, that screams laziness.

She'll be lucky if she doesn't get sued. I kind of hope she does.
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Old 02-13-2010, 07:41 PM   #4
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"Mixing" doesn't conceal sources.

Why I remember in my day when 17 year olds were more responsi.... no, wait, they were mostly morons then too.
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Old 02-20-2010, 08:28 AM   #5
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If it was that case that we thought of a novel as no more than a sequence of words strung together in a particular order, then copying such a sequence would clearly be plagiarism. However, literary narratives are much more than simply sequences of words strung together is a particular sequence.

I haven't read the novel (not sure anyone else who is commenting here has either), but I can imagine circumstances under which such "mixing", as the author calls it, is a valid literary strategy. Using an analogy from the world of visual art, we can appreciate Duchamp's Fountain as an aesthetic object, or we can dismiss it as simply a urinal that Duchamp didn't even make - he simply took someone else's urinal and signed it R Mutt. On one level this is self-evidently true, but if we think the artwork is entirely described by this characterization we miss something important about the urinal as an artwork.

I'm not arguing that the "mixed" novel has any literary value whatsoever - but I am suggesting that we cannot decide that a priori simply on the grounds that it uses sequences of words arranged in a certain order which are the same as someone else has used.
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Old 02-20-2010, 12:34 PM   #6
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She'll be lucky if she doesn't get sued. I kind of hope she does.
What she did is wrong. Any money should be dispersed to the original authors. Even Milli Vanilli could recognize what they did was wrong, they didn't continue the sham by saying they were mixing.
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Old 02-20-2010, 03:27 PM   #7
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What she did is wrong.
What do you mean by wrong - and how do you know this was wrong?
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Old 02-20-2010, 03:44 PM   #8
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She'll be lucky if she doesn't get sued. I kind of hope she does.
Her publisher made agreements in the aftermath with the various sources she had used. The new edition of "her" book will have six (six!!!!) pages with source bibliography. What she did was wrong, yes. But her publisher (especially the editors) did a horrible job in not checking the used sources.
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Old 02-20-2010, 03:49 PM   #9
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It's not that it was coincidentally similar. She took an entire page, changed a couple of words around. This isn't an homage; it's not flattery. It's barely short of theft. Whereas I don't think that one page in a novel is worth suing over, it makes me consider this author a lazy hack.

I mean, there's nothing wrong with saying, "Wow, that's a brilliant idea!" and using something like that, but to outright take someone else's words... I just can't respect it, especially when she seems unashamed of what she did.
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Old 02-20-2010, 03:58 PM   #10
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What do you mean by wrong - and how do you know this was wrong?
See the two posts above this one.
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Old 02-20-2010, 04:17 PM   #11
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See the two posts above this one.
Yes, I've seen them, but what everyone seems to be saying is something like "It's wrong because I don't think she should have done it. And I don't think she should have done it because it's wrong", which is glaringly circular. Everyone seems to be treating the novel as a sequence of words not as a literary work of art - which is like treating Duchamp's Fountain like a urinal. What no-one seems to be addressing is that it is possible, theoretically at least, to create something of artistic, in this case, literary value by creating a new context for already written words, thereby giving those words new meaning.

All literary works are created in a particular socio-cultural-aesthetic context and, as such, rely on other works for their meaning. In this sense all literary work is a rearranging of familiar elements. A totally new work would be incomprehensible to most of us, cf. Joyce's Ulysses.

Again, I haven't read this book and so don't know what the author is trying to do in it. She may indeed be a rip-off artist, but we cannot decide that before actually reading it.
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Old 02-20-2010, 04:55 PM   #12
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Yes, I've seen them, but what everyone seems to be saying is something like "It's wrong because I don't think she should have done it. And I don't think she should have done it because it's wrong", which is glaringly circular. Everyone seems to be treating the novel as a sequence of words not as a literary work of art - which is like treating Duchamp's Fountain like a urinal. What no-one seems to be addressing is that it is possible, theoretically at least, to create something of artistic, in this case, literary value by creating a new context for already written words, thereby giving those words new meaning.

All literary works are created in a particular socio-cultural-aesthetic context and, as such, rely on other works for their meaning. In this sense all literary work is a rearranging of familiar elements. A totally new work would be incomprehensible to most of us, cf. Joyce's Ulysses.

Again, I haven't read this book and so don't know what the author is trying to do in it. She may indeed be a rip-off artist, but we cannot decide that before actually reading it.
There are laws - copyright laws (and others) that limit the use of other creators work. She overstepped the bounds, she broke the law and the trust by not saying it up front. That's why it's wrong. Not circular at all.
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Old 02-20-2010, 05:12 PM   #13
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There are laws - copyright laws (and others) that limit the use of other creators work. She overstepped the bounds, she broke the law and the trust by not saying it up front. That's why it's wrong. Not circular at all.
Ah, I didn't realize it was a conversation about lawfulness. I thought it was a conversation about whether it was a or could be "good" book or not. The suggestion seemed to be that because the way in which the book was compiled it was rendered automatically a bad thing. I thought it was some kind of moral argument. Presumably you think there are never any circumstances under which breaking the law is right, or at least not wrong, (from protesting monks in Burma to DRM strippers - think about it).

Now that her publisher has acknowledged her sources - there are rules about how much of a work another author can cite - is she no longer breaking the law? If she is no longer breaking the law what she did is not - on your account - wrong. Am I understanding you correctly?
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Old 02-20-2010, 05:29 PM   #14
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What does the term "Plagerism" (as in the title of this thread) mean to you?
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Old 02-20-2010, 05:41 PM   #15
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Her publisher made agreements in the aftermath with the various sources she had used. The new edition of "her" book will have six (six!!!!) pages with source bibliography. What she did was wrong, yes. But her publisher (especially the editors) did a horrible job in not checking the used sources.
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Ah, I didn't realize it was a conversation about lawfulness. I thought it was a conversation about whether it was a or could be "good" book or not. ...

Now that her publisher has acknowledged her sources - there are rules about how much of a work another author can cite - is she no longer breaking the law? If she is no longer breaking the law what she did is not - on your account - wrong. Am I understanding you correctly?
What she DID was wrong -- which was that she put her name on someone else's work and claimed it as her own. But if in fact, as netseeker suggests, she now has agreements to use what she used, it doesn't even matter what the law states about much you can use without permission, because she now has permission.

A major difference between this and your urinal example is that I very much doubt anyone mistook the craftsmanship of the urinal as a sculpter's work. They understood that what the artist was claiming was the re-purposing of something mundane as art. If he had claimed to have made it himself, or led people to believe he had, that would have been wrong too, wrong in that it would have been a lie. What he claimed was how to use it -- and if this author had cited her sources originally too, we'd probably be having a conversation about 'mixing' and literary value instead of a conversation about theft and lies.

Finally, I can't imagine how any of the comments here, or the topic "Plagiarism, Okay?" makes you think this is a topic about whether the book is good or not rather than whether plagiarism is ... wait for it, "okay". If you'd like to add your 2 cents about its potential literary value, feel free, but it almost sounded as if you were suggesting everyone but you was off-topic.
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