Plagiarist, Plagiarist, Wherefore Art Thou, Plagiarist?

I couldn’t resist. I just couldn’t. Especially when I looked at a certain MySpace page, but now I’m getting ahead of myself.

For the record, Henry VI is still glaring at me.

Yesterday in class, Professor F-Dawg (so named because he drops the F-bomb so tenderly) gave the advanced comp class a presentation on plagiarism.

I wish I could say I didn’t learn anything, but it wouldn’t be true.

But Doc F-Dawg showed us this website in class: Smart Bitches Who Love Trashy Books. Now, given that Mike and I spent some of our paper-writing time devising a means to teach a collegiate class on slutty romance novels, this struck my fancy. I thought about Mike right away.

Now, the premise behind the site is that smart chicks like smart romance novels, and so the authors of the sites weed the good from the bad.

Now, that’s not the reason F-Dawg showed us this in class. It was because Cassie Edwards, romance novelist extraordinaire, was accused of plagiarism.

Sort of. The lovely ladies from SBTB didn’t actually accuse anyone of anything. They merely pointed out their discoveries in this entry: Cassie Edwards, First Entry. If you click on the “More, more, more” link at the bottom you’ll see examples of Edwards’ writing paired against original sources. Look at the links to the side of the main page, and you’ll see novel after novel after novel of extremely similar passages.

Plagiarism people. It’s an ugly, ugly thing.

Her official statement is here, saying that she didn’t realize she was doing anything wrong. Now, I understand that the lady is a bit older, and I’d give her the benefit of the doubt based on the fact that there probably weren’t hard-core anti-plagiarism campaigns when she was in school, but something struck me as suspicious, as it did the ladies at SBTB.

The documents she used, apparently, are older than 50 years old. Having lost their copyrights, they now fall under “Fair Use policy.”

Supposedly. Digging through the comments, someone pointed out that “Fair Use” doesn’t include fiction writing.

Now. I find it horrible that the woman did it. I do. But what is absolutely unforgiveable as far as I’m concerned is this statement from Signet, Edwards’ publisher:

Signet takes plagiarism seriously, and would act swiftly were there justification for such allegations against one of its authors. But in this case Ms. Edwards has done nothing wrong.

The “official release” from Signet to SBTB is here.

Signet, who incidentally, is the publisher of my Henry VI book (maybe he’s glaring for other reasons), apparently doesn’t understand the difference between “doing nothing wrong” and “doing nothing illegal.”

The legality of her actions is still being question, I’d imagine. The fact that one of the authors she plagiarised is allegedly still alive might cause a problem.

But, assuming everything falls under “Fair Use” and she did not in fact do anything illegal, it does NOT mean that she did not do anything wrong.

Perhaps at Ms. Edwards’ advanced age, the notion of lifting words (and phrases and paragraphs and pages) from another source and claiming it as your own doesn’t strike her as stealing, but Signet, an experienced publisher should know the difference between right and wrong.

And this pisses, pisses, pisses me off.

And, should I attain professorhood at some advanced date, I will boycott all of Signet’s products.


And I suggest that other teachers do the same.

Because it goes against what teachers are TRYING to instill in students, and it makes the lecture at the beginning of every semester about academic honesty absolutely POINTLESS.

By a professor ordering Signet’s products for his or her class, he is showing that he supports Signet’s position that when those kids who have been lectured on academic honesty grow up, they can steal from a bunch of dead guys, be rewarded for it, and never be called into question for it.

Because they’re showing that profit is more important than ethics. And being legal is all that matters.

Is THIS really the message that we want to convey? Because it’s certainly what Signet wants us to think.

I never thought I’d be on such a soap box, but this strikes something in me that makes me very angry.

To me, it’s not so much about the stealing, which is very, very wrong, but rather that a big-name company publicly condones it and says that STEALING IS PERFECTLY OKAY.

And that’s what bothers me.


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