Plagiarism and the law revisited

Plagiarism is increasingly being included in legal actions. Besides being invoked in a recent government suit against the Tobacco industry, EMediaWire reports: Brayton Purcell, a respected plaintiff law firm based in Novato, California, filed a lawsuit for copyright infringement when it discovered large portions of its popular web site, Elder Abuse Information (, posted on another law firm's web site.

Managed books

Recent admissions of inadvertent plagiarism by two prominent Harvard law professors, Charles Ogletree and Laurence Tribe, have drawn attention to a largely undiscussed aspect of plagiarism -- "the phenomenon of managed books . . . in which some academics rely on assistants to help produce books, in some cases allowing the assistants to write first drafts." See "Harvard in a Quandary" for further details.

"Yo, professor. Cantcha read?"

In a complaint directed at Peter Charles Hoffer, professor of history at the University of Georgia, B Timothy Noah identifies one way that plagiarism creeps into a scholar's research: "inaccuracy due to laziness."

"Plagiarism: a misplaced emphasis"

According to Brian Martin, plagiarism is conventionally seen as a serious breach of scholarly ethics, being a theft of credit for ideas in a competitive intellectual marketplace. This emphasis overlooks the vast amount of institutionalized plagiarism, including ghostwriting and attribution of authorship to bureaucratic elites. There is a case for reducing the stigma for competitive plagiarism while exposing and challenging the institutionalized varieties.

"Something Borrowed"

Malcolm Gladwell's "Something Borrowed" explores a plagiarism charge in some complexity, identifying ambiguities. So why didn't she credit me and Lewis? How could she have been so meticulous about accuracy but not about attribution? Lavery didn't have an answer. 'I thought it was O.K. to use it,' she said with an embarrassed shrug. 'It never occurred to me to ask you. I thought it was news.'

UC Berkeley re-considers plagiarism

"To turn back a rising trend of plagiarism incidents, UC Berkeley faculty may step up efforts to identify and punish cheating by creating a new grading category on transcripts or purchasing new campuswide anti-plagiarism software." See Daily Californian Online.

Student cheating revisited

Donald McCabe recently spoke at Central Michigan University, where he enumerated some old and new statistics. During the course of his various surveys, he's found that upwards to two-thirds of students have cheated; he's also found that "44 percent of faculty members have ignored cheating and 52 percent have never reported cheating to their superiors."

New plagiarism scandal @ Newcastle Uni

"Newcastle University has confirmed the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) is investigating a student's claim that English-language exams were sold to overseas students."

Plagiarism report labelled a whitewash

Matthew Thompson, who has been covering the Newcastle Uni plagiarism scandal, reports: "An independent expert who was paid $2000 a day to look into allegations of academic misbehaviour produced a report that was a 'whitewash' and a 'cover-up', the Independent Commission Against Corruption heard yesterday.

Swedish universities suspend students for plagiarism

Swedish universities are suspending "an increasing number of students" on account of plagiarism. Tina Israelsson at the national body of universities and colleges suggests that the increase in suspensions does not necessarily mean that cheating is on the rise, but rather that "universities are just getting better at spotting plagiarism.
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