Quoth the author: nevermore? Another plagiarism scandal.

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leahzero

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So I just came across this today:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/enter...-child-bride/2011/12/06/gIQATb7iZO_story.html

The publisher of a novel about Edgar Allan Poe’s child bride defended the book against allegations that its author, Lenore Hart, lifted material from another work about Poe’s young wife.

St. Martin’s Press released a brief statement Tuesday saying it had compared Hart’s “The Raven’s Bride” to Cothburn O’Neal’s “The Very Young Mrs. Poe” and found any similarities limited to the inevitable overlap of two novels covering the same subject: Virginia Clemm, who married Poe when she was 13 years old.
Except internet sleuths have pretty much proven the blatant, word-for-word plagiarism Ms. Hart committed:

http://jeremyduns.blogspot.com/2011/11/ravens-bride.html

From The Very Young Mrs. Poe by Cothburn O'Neal, 1956:
'Beyond Hopewell and the confluence of the Appomattox, the James grew narrower and wound in great loops around Bermuda Hundred. Further on, the current was swifter, foaming against gray boulders and lush green islands which twisted the channel torturously.'
From The Raven's Bride by Lenore Hart, 2011:
'Beyond the confluence of the Appomattox, the James grew narrower and wound in great loops about Bermuda Hundred. The current ran more swiftly there, shoving its relentless force against gray rocks and lush low peninsulas which twisted the channel into a shallow treacherous serpent whose narrow back we must ride.'​
There are dozens more examples on Jeremy Duns's blog. Duns, if you'll recall, was one of the authors duped by recently-exposed plagiarist QR Markham (Quentin Rowan) for his cut-and-paste novel Assassin of Secrets.

What's stunning is that St. Martin's has apparently taken the author's word that she didn't plagiarize, not even bothering to Google some of the cited examples of plagiarism.
 

aliceshortcake

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WTF? I know editors can't possibly recognise every single attempt at plagiarism before a book is published, but for a big house like St Martin's to wilfully remain in denial is unbelievable.

It makes me wonder how much plagiarized/defamatory material lurks in the pages of self-published and vanity published books languishing in obscurity on Amazon. It's probably a good thing that the vast majority of these volumes will never be read.
 
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Phaeal

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From the blog entry and comments, I speculate that Hart found this obscure 1956 novel and decided it would be safe to structure her whole "original" novel on it. As damning to me as copied or little-altered language is the appearance of the same imagined (that is, not historical) scenes in both.

Or....

It could be a case of spectral writing. See, the ghost of the original author possessed Hart (without her even knowing it!) and rewrote his novel through her. Yeah. I think that's an even BETTER theory.

Oooh, oooh, bunny!
 
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IceCreamEmpress

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This was pointed out in March by a Poe scholar and caused quite a kerfuffle in the US community of historical novelists.

I am glad that Duns is bringing it to wider attention! And I applaud him for being so clear about giving credit for the original discovery.
 

Scribe4264

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And yet another plagiarism author, Kay Manning, apologizes:

Dear Author

Wow, that was pretty bad. At least try to make the graphs smaller or larger or change up the dialogue a little more. But just changing the names of the characters? That's just downright lazy.
 

Terie

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Wow, that was pretty bad. At least try to make the graphs smaller or larger or change up the dialogue a little more. But just changing the names of the characters? That's just downright lazy.

I'm sorry, but no. You don't even 'try to make the graphs smaller or larger or change up the dialogue a little more'. Plagiarism is wrong, no matter how much you try to change things around. Also? Making changes like that is not only still plagiarism, it's also still lazy.

I'm pretty sure you were being sarcastic, Scribe4264, but it's not clear from your post. New writers who don't know the ropes yet could take what you just said as actual advice.
 

aruna

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For the first time ever, I'm following a scandal on Twitter. This is certainly making waves.

I just don't understand the stupidty -- quite apart from the moral issue of doing it int the firts place -- do these people reallythink they can get away with it? After the many, many outings in the past? And do they really believe that an apology after being outed will make it all good again? Do they take us for fools?
Scratches head.
 

Shakesbear

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I'm sorry, but no. You don't even 'try to make the graphs smaller or larger or change up the dialogue a little more'. Plagiarism is wrong, no matter how much you try to change things around. Also? Making changes like that is not only still plagiarism, it's also still lazy.

I'm pretty sure you were being sarcastic, Scribe4264, but it's not clear from your post. New writers who don't know the ropes yet could take what you just said as actual advice.

Agree with Terie.

Stupidity or arrogance? The "I'll never be caught/found out" syndrome.
 

areteus

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As has been discussed before here, it is very easy to escape detection unless someone specifically looks for it... publishers don't use software to scan every book for plagiarism before they sign them up (though the number of times this happens maybe they should consider it) so the only way this can be found out is post publication when someone spots it.

Most contracts do seem to protect the publisher with a 'you acknowledge that this work is your own' clause which places responsibility firmly in the lap of the author for any bad behaviour.

In the Poe example above, there is a misconception (possibly propagated by schools for various reasons*...) that it is only plagiarism if you copy word for word. Therefore, it is possible that some people will think that the above is not plagiarism because it is not a direct word for word copy (just very close...). If it had been a non fiction and the source had been referenced there is less of an issue because you are merely using information that someone else has researched for your own research. However, this is fiction and there is no reference therefore there is a plagarism issue.

Though I do wonder if a 1956 publication is still in copyright and whether this influences the legal situation in anyway?




*because when I was at school we were told if you were using information from a text book you had to change the wording otherwise it is plagiarism. The same is told to students today when using wikipedia. This is fine for submitting an essay to a school, especially if you are properly referencing the source, but for professional publication where you intend to make money from it...
 

Terie

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Though I do wonder if a 1956 publication is still in copyright and whether this influences the legal situation in anyway?

I'm pretty sure (tho not 100%) that something published in 1956 falls under the current copyright timespan, which is the author's life plus 70 years. If that's the case, even if the author died in 1956, the work is still within the 70-year period.
 

Shakesbear

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Though I do wonder if a 1956 publication is still in copyright and whether this influences the legal situation in anyway?

*because when I was at school we were told if you were using information from a text book you had to change the wording otherwise it is plagiarism. The same is told to students today when using wikipedia. This is fine for submitting an essay to a school, especially if you are properly referencing the source, but for professional publication where you intend to make money from it...

It is not just a legal situation but a moral one. I've just co-written a play - if someone in ninety years time chooses to take my work and present it as their own it is plagiarism.Copyright is something else.

As for kids using wiki to source essays and just change the words - not surprising education is being dumbed down! They are not thinking for themselves or using their intellects!
 

Katrina S. Forest

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Wow. How on earth did Kaavya Viswanathan lose all future publishing deals with Opal Mehta and Lenore Hart just gets a, "Nope, wasn't plagiarism. We checked."

Life doesn't seem fair.
 

Alessandra Kelley

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Works made in 1956 are still under copyright.

She wouldn't be the first author to mine an obscure old novel in the hopes no one would notice. "The Manchurian Candidate" lifted entire passages word-for-word from "I, Claudius," which at the time was an obscure old novel, something which was only uncovered recently. Thank goodness for sharp-eyed fans and, now, Google searches.
 

Alessandra Kelley

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... And actually it doesn't matter if the work plagiarised is under copyright or not. Plagiarism and copyright violation are two entirely separate crimes.

Plagiarism of a work under copyright is also a violation of copyright.

But plagiarism of an older, out-of-copyright work is still theft of another's work which is presented as one's own. It's just as intellectually lazy, and just as wrong.
 

Terie

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... And actually it doesn't matter if the work plagiarised is under copyright or not. Plagiarism and copyright violation are two entirely separate crimes.

Plagiarism is not a crime. It's morally bad and ethically wrong, and doing it can -- justifiably -- get someone thrown out of university. But it's not actually a criminal offence.

Copyright infringement, on the other hand, is a criminal offence.

For example, if I were to make a plagiarised copy of, say, Pride and Prejudice and sell it with my own name as the author, it would be reprehensible but no one could charge me with a crime.

If I were, however, to make a plagiarised copy of, say, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and sell it with my own name as the author, it would still be reprehensible, but also I would and should get totally nailed by JK Rowling's lawyers.

We're writers here, and we need to be careful about the language we use. Calling something a crime when it isn't actually a crime isn't helpful.
 

Alessandra Kelley

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Plagiarism is not a crime. It's morally bad and ethically wrong, and doing it can -- justifiably -- get someone thrown out of university. But it's not actually a criminal offence.

Copyright infringement, on the other hand, is a criminal offence.

For example, if I were to make a plagiarised copy of, say, Pride and Prejudice and sell it with my own name as the author, it would be reprehensible but no one could charge me with a crime.

If I were, however, to make a plagiarised copy of, say, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and sell it with my own name as the author, it would still be reprehensible, but also I would and should get totally nailed by JK Rowling's lawyers.

We're writers here, and we need to be careful about the language we use. Calling something a crime when it isn't actually a crime isn't helpful.

Quite so, and I apologize for my inaccurate language. I was actually struggling a bit what to call them -- sins? naughties? wrongs? I settled on "crimes" as in literary crimes, but the word has too important a legal meaning in this context.
 

Jamesaritchie

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Though I do wonder if a 1956 publication is still in copyright and whether this influences the legal situation in anyway?




...

You must be young. I was already able to read in 1956, and could even write fairly well. It wasn't that long ago.

Anything written after 1923 is still under copyright protection.
 

MJNL

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I think it's worth noting that while plagiarism isn't illegal, it is unethical, and unlike things that are simply immoral (like cheating on your spouse), ethics violations are fireable offenses-- and with this specific violation, especially in industries that deal in intellectual property.

So no, you might not face jail time or a fine if you plagiarize an out of copyright work, but you can expect to be (effectively) fired, and perhaps never to work in your chosen industry again (depending on how public you unethical behavior becomes).
 

Jamesaritchie

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It sure sound like plagiarism, but it isn't always as cut and dried as many think. The number of passage does make a difference, and more important, it's never wise to make a decision until after you know where the plagiarized source came up with the words.

Sometimes the writer wrote them, and sometimes they're pulled from a much older, out of copyright work. Extractions from journals/diaries, map maker's logs, assayer's notes, and other sources have led to charges of legalism.

And there's a fine line between how much you have to rewrite textual information and plagiarism. You often don't have to rewrite it at all.

This does sound like plagiarism, but there's still a wait and see aspect.
 

artemis31386

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I'll never understand why people plagiarize. Don't they understand that they will be caught!? If not in today, in the future, but eventually they will be caught and it will be very embarrassing. Let's face it, everyone loves a scandal and things like this get talked about for a very long time.

Plus, doesn't she feel guilty? Obviously not based on her weak defense.
 
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