28 April 2006 by Published in: General musings 1 comment

This is a quick follow-up to Wednesday’s post about plagiarism by the Harvard undergrad. It bears noting that her publisher, Little Brown, has done the right thing, and has pulled the book off the shelves until a revised edition can be brought out. Although Little Brown will take a bath on this, it did the honorable and correct thing, and I tip my hat to the people there who made this difficult decision. Megan McCafferty, the author whose work was plagiarized, has apparently decided that that is a sufficient remedy, and has elected not pursue further action against the plagiarist.

While I can certainly understand and appreciate that, I do wish that she had decided to pursue further action against the plagiarist, if for no other reason than to send a clear and unambiguous message that plagiarism is not acceptable, and that there is a severe penalty to be paid for plagiarism. Perhaps then, we might see some headway being made toward making this problem a bit less commonplace and a bit less acceptable.

Kevin Levin noted in his blog today that even he, as a high school teacher, sees this problem with his students. As Kevin properly points out, ultimately, freely stealing someone else’s intellectual property is, in fact, a reflection on the character of the plagiarist.

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Comments

  1. Valerie Protopapas
    Sat 29th Apr 2006 at 8:46 pm

    Awwww….. a ‘reflection on the character of the plagiarist’ (spelled it right this time!). Problem is, they (the plagiarists) just don’t care – nor, apparently, does anywone else INCLUDING the individual plagiarized.

    On the other hand, if Ms. McCafferty had actually become ‘hard nosed’ about it, I am willing to wager that she would have gotten worse publicity than the plagiarist! She would have been called ‘unforgiving’ and ‘intolerant’ and even ‘greedy’ for defending her property (remember, ‘owning’ anything is a sin, unless, of course, it is in the ‘politically correct’ sense such as ‘owning one’s body’). No, Ms. McCafferty was one smart cookie when she decided to play it down. She at least remains the victim in the matter. Had she determined to make an example of the ‘author’ in question, the victim status would have reverted to the sinner rather than the person sinned against.

    As far as persons who – for whatever reason – use and misuse the work of others, again I am of the opinion that these people know that the ONLY ‘wrong’ nowadays is getting caught. In fact, a smart plagiarist or any other type of crook (and that’s what these people are – crooks!) receives a sort of ‘wink, wink, nod’ from a public that should be aghast at the acts involved and condemnatory towards those who commit them. But being dishonest is now something that falls into a sort of ‘boys will be boys’ category (whatever the sex of the offender) which denotes actions that while they are in fact ‘naughty’, are not all THAT bad and are to be expected in this life anyway. Those who speak out against them strongly are often told by the institutions of the culture to ‘get over it’ and ‘move on’. I am reminded of Herman Melville’s point as spoken by Captain Ahab when he asks Starbuck about where one goes for justice ‘…when the Judge Himself is called before the bar…”

    It’s sad, really.

    V. P.

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