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tabasco Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-11 04:29 PM
Original message
Any plagiarism experts out there?
Edited on Thu Jul-28-11 04:54 PM by tabasco


Original article:

An outcrop of Marcellus shale occurs in the eastern part of the county, running generally northeast to southwest. The shale layer quickly dives underneath the surface to the west and north. At Marlinton, the Marcellus shale is more than a mile under the surface. According to a graph on the DEP website, the layer of Marcellus shale under Pocahontas County is about 60 to 80 feet thick.

Re-reported article:

An outcrop of Marcellus shale occurs in the eastern part of Pocahontas County, running northeast to southwest. The shale layer quickly dives underneath the surface to the west and north. At Marlinton the Marcellus shale is more than a mile below the surface. According to data from the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, the layer of Marcellus shale under Pocahontas County is 60 to 80 feet thick.



Both of these paragraphs appeared in the same newspaper under different bylines.

Even though this is near-verbatim, copy-and-pasting, the editor says it is an example of "common knowledge" and "non-creative" so no credit to the original writer is necessary.

Any opinions?
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MorningGlow Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-29-11 11:21 AM
Response to Original message
1. What the--?
Edited on Fri Jul-29-11 11:22 AM by MorningGlow
Waitaminnit--lemme get this straight. A newspaper ran a story with the first graf under John Doe's byline, and then later ran a story with the second graf under Jane Roe's byline? Why would they do that? Why would they run the same story twice, by the way? Or...wait...was the rest of the article the same or different? Are both Doe and Roe on the newspaper payroll, or is this an AP story run twice, either intentionally or accidentally?

I must admit that I'm totally confused. Can you tell? :P

In any case, this is obviously the same graf, lightly edited. If both of these appeared in the same paper, I'd assume the reporters knew one another and the editor knew both of them, so it wouldn't be a successful theft. However, the editor is wrong--this is not "common knowledge"--the facts, yes, but the phrasing is too similar, and that's what makes it plagiarism. LOL did the two reporters boost this "common knowledge" from a single, other source? THAT I would call plagiarism.
:rofl:

Can you share more info?
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tabasco Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-29-11 04:16 PM
Response to Reply #1
4. Yes, that's what happened.
The writer of the original article from 2008 noticed the paragraph he had written in a second article just a couple weeks ago.

Both writers work for the same newspaper.

The writer is being told "it's company property, so it's OK."

Thanks for your input.
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sybylla Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-29-11 01:12 PM
Response to Original message
2. Have you done a search for the language verbatim
It may be that this "informational" paragraph was taken from a government report, which is in the public domain and therefore not a copyright violation but still plagiarism - for not citing the report.

My guess is you might find it at the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection.

If you can find it, you can smear/shame them with it. Other than that, you'll probably not get much satisfaction out of the dodgy journalism ethics.
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tabasco Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-29-11 04:12 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. No, the first paragraph was not plagiarized.
The second paragraph was a copy-and-paste job with a few words changed.
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sybylla Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-29-11 05:46 PM
Response to Reply #3
5. Still, having worked for a local Gannett rag
I can tell you they like three sources per story and it's even better if they are government sources.

It's easy for them to get lazy about citing a government source since the material isn't copyrighted and they can claim "its publicly available information." But taking it word for word from a government report is still plagiarism.
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tabasco Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-29-11 06:40 PM
Response to Reply #5
6. The original writer used a geology map to detemine the information.
I suppose he could have cited "map sheet whatever," but the first paragraph was not plagiarized.
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Tansy_Gold Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-29-11 07:18 PM
Response to Original message
7. Not an expert, but do have some knowledge
First of all, are you the author of the original (first) piece?


Second, are you alleging "plagiarism" or "copyright infringement"?


Without knowing the answers to those very important questions, any responses are pretty much useless.



TG
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tabasco Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jul-30-11 08:17 AM
Response to Reply #7
8. I'm asking opinions of what people think.
I think it's lazy and unethical to copy and paste another person's writing and put your name on it.

There's no copyright infringement. The newspaper owns the rights to both articles and both writers work for the same newspaper.


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Tansy_Gold Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jul-30-11 11:01 AM
Response to Reply #8
9. You asked for "plagiarism experts"
Do you want the opinion of an expert or just what non-expert people think? Sounds like you've already made up your own mind. If so, there's no reason for you to read further.

While cutting and pasting, even with minor alterations, may seem lazy and unethical to you, you might what to consider the following:

The transmission of factual knowledge from non-copyrighted sources is neither illegal nor unethical. While it might be polite to acknowledge the source of the facts, if there is no copyright involved it's not necessary to cite.

Newspaper writers (who may not be "journalists" or "reporters") may be under deadlines to produce copy. Whatever helps them meet those deadlines and still be legal is probably not an entirely bad thing.

The paper may have wanted the facts repeated to maintain a continuity of reporting. In other words, when someone reads the second article and wants to go back and reference the first -- regardless who it is or their reason for doing so -- it's easier if the information is presented in a similar form to avoid confusion or misinterpretation.



On the other hand, there is this:

http://smartbitchestrashybooks.files.wordpress.com/2008...



TG, TT
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tabasco Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jul-30-11 12:00 PM
Response to Reply #9
10. A plagiarism expert has the ability to say 'yes, it is' or 'no it isn't' ...
n'est pas?

Perhaps you can suggest a better title for my post. Thanks!

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Tansy_Gold Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jul-30-11 01:40 PM
Response to Reply #10
11. Anyone can express an opinion, even non-experts who know. . .
. . .virtually nothing about the subject; and that's regardless what the subject is: plagiarism, copyright infringement, global climate change, what happened to Judge Crater, is Pluto a planet or a cartoon dog, etc.

Since this is the "Writing" forum, I'm assuming the quality of writing is applicable here, even as to the quality of writing in a post that leaves issues unclear. As someone who has *some* knowledge of what does and does not constitute plagiarism and/or copyright infringement, I felt your OP was unclear, and I attempted to elicit additional information to determine exactly what it was you wanted.

1. Do you want responses from experts only, or just general opinions on whether the quoted passages in the OP constitute plagiarism?

2. If you only want general opinions, you needn't specify "plagiarism experts" in the subject line. You could have written simply, "Hey, you guys, do you think this is plagiarism???"

3. If you want ONLY expert opinions, you might have to provide additional information -- whether the articles were written by freelancers, as work-for-hire pieces by employees of the newspaper, etc. -- before the "expert" can render an opinion. I'm not an expert by any means, but even I know there is a lot more I'd need to know before I would render an opinion as to whether it's plagiarism, copyright infringement, both, neither, and so on.

4. Even experts may disagree. N'est-ce pas?



Tansy Gold


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SheilaT Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-31-11 04:27 PM
Response to Original message
12. Just one paragraph, even if only lightly changed,
does not much plagiarism make.

It can be extremely difficult to come up with truly original language when writing yet another piece about something that's been written about many times before.

Are there any other paragraphs in the two different articles that are remarkably similar? If so, a case for plagiarism might be made. But, and here is a huge but, if the newspaper itself owns the copywrite to both pieces, it's not plagiarism. It's the copywrite owner writing up the same information, so that owner can change as little or as much as he wants.
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Tansy_Gold Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-31-11 09:35 PM
Response to Reply #12
13. Not exactly
First of all, C-O-P-Y-R-I-G-H-T infringement and plagiarism are not the same thing.

It is possible to plagiarize without infringing on a copyright.

It is possible to infringe on a copyright without plagiarizing.

It is possible to do both at the same time, because they are different things.

Second of all, "a single paragraph" is not a valid measurement because we don't know how long either of the articles is. If they are brief, say four or five paragraphs, a single paragraph could be 20-25% of the entire piece. That percentage could easily be grounds for an allegation of copyright infringement.

Third of all, just because the newspaper owns the copyright -- COPYRIGHT -- doesn't mean there can't be plagiarism. Plagiarism in and of itself is not illegal. Often immoral and unethical, but sometimes not even that.

Seriously, writers who don't have a working understanding of what copyright, copyright infringement, and plagiarism are -- AND ARE NOT -- are risking serious consequences.


You should know what can and can't be copyrighted.
You should know how to copyright your work.
You should know what constitutes plagiarism.
You should know what constitutes copyright infringement.

I watched the careers of two very very successful novelists nose dive because of copyright infringement. I've also watched while a friend was maliciously accused of copyright infringement and had to defend herself against it, successfully I might add but the psychological damage was so great that she quit writing.




Tansy Gold
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SheilaT Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-01-11 01:55 AM
Response to Reply #13
14. Thank you for the clarification.
I probably should have made it clear that just the one paragraph comparison really isn't enough to know if plagiarism has occurred.

Your other information is extremely useful.
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