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Old 11-25-2009, 03:55 PM   #1
luqmaninbmore
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Reporting Plagiarism

Greetings,


Is there any standard of method of reporting suspected plagiarism? I was reading a recently published ebook today and I noticed a passage that seemed oddly familar (and bit out of keeping with the style of the novel). I then checked wikipedia and, low and behold, the passage seems to have been copied, with little alteration, from the wikipedia article dedicated to one of the novel's (historical) antagonists. I was going to publish this on my blog but, not wanting to be sued for libel, I decided to ask here if anyone knows what I
should do. This is a very high-profile novel from a respected publishing company, not a self-published indy book. The hardcover is selling quite well and getting good reviews.

Luqman
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Old 11-25-2009, 03:59 PM   #2
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I don't have an answer but wonder how you can tell which came first, the book or the wikipedia version and whether or not they were contributed by the same person?
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Old 11-25-2009, 04:08 PM   #3
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Hmm...

WikiPedia content is under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike license. Is the book in question also CC? If so I think it is ok.

If it is not CC the Wikipedia article needs to be given as the cite for the info.

And, as Daffy said, which came first, the book or the Wikipedia info?

BOb
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Old 11-25-2009, 04:11 PM   #4
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There's no standard method as far as I know - there's certainly no central authority.

You could report your suspicions to Wikipedia - they might be interested.
You could tell the publisher about it.
You could ask the author about the passage

You could mention on your blog that you found a passage in the book that reminded you of part of a wikipedia entry, and include both extracts. So long as you stick to provable facts you should be OK. e.g. don't entitle the entry "<Famous author> steals from wikipedia!")

You should also check the wikipedia page's history, to make sure that the wikipedia entry hasn't been copied from the book!


Quote:
Originally Posted by luqmaninbmore View Post
Is there any standard of method of reporting suspected plagiarism?
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Old 11-25-2009, 04:18 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by daffy4u View Post
I don't have an answer but wonder how you can tell which came first, the book or the wikipedia version and whether or not they were contributed by the same person?
The wikipedia article came first. I checked the revision from June and the plagiarized passage was there. The book was published in October.
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Old 11-25-2009, 04:20 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by luqmaninbmore View Post
The wikipedia article came first. I checked the revision from June and the plagiarized passage was there. The book was published in October.
Published in October, but no way of telling when the author wrote it.
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Old 11-25-2009, 04:30 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bilbo1967 View Post
Published in October, but no way of telling when the author wrote it.
But the wikipedia article can't have been copied out of the book before the book was published. So if the passages really are the same, either the author copied from wikipedia, or the author added that section to wikipedia.
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Old 11-25-2009, 04:33 PM   #8
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Quote:
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But the wikipedia article can't have been copied out of the book before the book was published. So if the passages really are the same, either the author copied from wikipedia, or the author added that section to wikipedia.
True, unless that part of the book had been published elsewhere.

Unlikely, I know, but the point is that it's very difficult for you (or anybody) to prove who's plagiarising who. I think you're right to be cautious.
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Old 11-25-2009, 05:26 PM   #9
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There is also "fair use" that might fall into place. If it is only a small passage - say a paragraph to two, compared to the full text then .....

Or maybe the author thought of it as fair use....
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Old 11-25-2009, 05:50 PM   #10
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There can't be anything actionable in pointing out the similarity. And you could do this anywhere that you liked. Just add something like, "Isn't this very strange?"
People can draw their own conclusions.

There is no central authority for reporting plagiarism. It is certainly on the increase in universities, and I've had to institute disciplinary action in several cases over the last few years. I usually discover them by Googling whenever the style gets a-typical. Also we have anti-plagiarism software.
Quite frankly, if I were ever tempted to plagiarise, then I'd be careful not to pick on a source that can be Googled.
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Old 11-25-2009, 06:38 PM   #11
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Thought about contacting the author first and pointing the similarity out? Maybe it's an honest mistake. Any further action would depend for me on his / her reaction.
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Old 11-26-2009, 02:56 AM   #12
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Contacting the author privately to discuss the matter would be the best course of action, I think, rather than making public accusations which may turn out to be embarrasing to all concerned.
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Old 11-26-2009, 06:01 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HarryT View Post
Contacting the author privately to discuss the matter would be the best course of action, I think, rather than making public accusations which may turn out to be embarrasing to all concerned.
Glad we are on the same wavelength. Good to meet like minded. Although you are smarter than me
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Old 11-26-2009, 01:21 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by luqmaninbmore View Post
Greetings,


Is there any standard of method of reporting suspected plagiarism? I was reading a recently published ebook today and I noticed a passage that seemed oddly familar (and bit out of keeping with the style of the novel). I then checked wikipedia and, low and behold, the passage seems to have been copied, with little alteration, from the wikipedia article dedicated to one of the novel's (historical) antagonists. I was going to publish this on my blog but, not wanting to be sued for libel, I decided to ask here if anyone knows what I
should do. This is a very high-profile novel from a respected publishing company, not a self-published indy book. The hardcover is selling quite well and getting good reviews.

Luqman
I'm also for asking the author first, but I want to point out that you can't be sued for libel merely for pointing out the similarities in the material. Not in the US, anyway.

For it to be libel, it has to be both false and malicious.

Publishing your finding without further investigation could *possibly* be considered malicious, but if what you publish is true, you aren't guilty of libel.

But consult the author just to cover all the bases.
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Old 11-26-2009, 02:42 PM   #15
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Can't add much to what's already been said, except to point out that plagiarism is not a crime, and therefore the concept of "reporting" it doesn't really make sense.

Plagiarism is not the same as copyright infringement. When you violate someone's copyright, you are stealing their creative work, and they are entitled to seek damages. With plagiarism, you are stealing ideas, opinions and research. There's no law against that, although the victim might well feel aggrieved at the loss.

Actually, this particular case sounds more like copyright infringement than plagiarism, as the passage in question was copied verbatim from another work, with no acknowledgement or citation.
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