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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Plagiarism

I was recently contacted by the editor of a major Frum newspaper, that someone copied my post on the school dilemma and forwarded it to be printed in his paper. This comes on the heels of seeing a letter in a different paper which was strikingly similar to my post.

Thankfully, this editor was vigilant enough to realize that it was an exact copy of my post, but who is to say that this won’t happen in the future.

Obviously, I am honored that my readers feel my posts are worthy of receiving even wider circulation than they enjoy on this site. However, to do so without my explicit permission is against Halacha and against the law.

I fail to understand how people can stoop so low, when all they have to do is contact me via email requesting that I submit my post for publication, something I have done relatively often in the past.

I conclude by firmly stating that such action has no justification, and I do not expect this to happen again.

Any requests to publish posts should be conveyed to me directly, and I will make the final decision.

Thank you.

P.S. I apologize for the delay, but I have now responded to all of your comments on my previous post.

41 Comments:

socialworker/frustrated mom said...

That is very low, so horrid, great the editor contacted you.

SephardiLady said...

I've had a blog post published in my name, but would be horrified if it was not done without my permission, especially as I might want to "adjust" parts of the post to fit a different audience.

chaverah said...

wow, how interesting! In a way it is an honor but how weird it that???? more people read our blogs then we realized! I am feeling weird now. anyhow there is no excuse for what this person did but you got to admit it feels good!

Joseph said...

You need to deflate your ego. Plagarism is wrong. So is crying wolf. You provide too few details to judge your latest allegation, but your last ''incident'' is much ado about nothing. The article in that frum paper while coming to the same conclusion as you, was not plagarism as you allege above. Having the same opinions is normal and to be expected (especially when rational.)

Independent Frum Thinker said...

SW/FM –
I agree.

SephardiLady –
That is also an important point. Sometimes adjustments need to be made for different audiences.

Chaverah –
It is kind of flattering, but completely wrong nonetheless.

Joseph –
Mean-spirited comments are unnecessary.
This is hardly an issue of crying wolf, or ego.
In one case my post was sent in its entirety, word for word – from the first word to the last word! In the other it was strikingly similar, and there are certain other reasons which lead me to believe that it was inspired by my post which I am not sharing mainly to protect even those that wronged me.
Either way, my main issue is with the one that was an exact copy from my blog, which is plagiarism in its truest form.

Joseph said...

Although my comments were not intended to come across as ''mean-spirited'', I do think it is mean-spirited to accuse a writer of plagarism, when there is little basis to the allegation.

As my previous post made clear, I was addressing your previous allegation of plagarism, not your most recent. The new incident is too vague on the details to judge, other than state the obvious that it is wrong if as alleged.

As far as accusing the ''frum paper'' of plagarism, you have no basis to make a serious accusation on the basis that you ''believe it was inspired by your post.'' You ought to be proud if it was inspired by your post. Failing to mention every source of the authors ''inspiration'' is NOT plagarism. And to make the allegation on the basis of ''certain other reasons'' ''which I am not sharing'' is plain outrageous.

Anonymous said...

To Joseph:
Please take a look in Websters (or in any dictionary for that matter) for the definition of plagiarisim.

plagiarize: to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one's own : use (another's production) without crediting the source

IFT is 100% right.
Copying IFT's post "WORD FOR WORD – from the first word to the last word!" (IFT at 1:53PM emphasis added) is plagerisim no matter how you slice it. Your attempt at nuance and hair splitting rings false.

Joseph said...

Anon: re-read what I wrote. And next time you comment, be sure you know what you are talking about. I'll repeat it for the 3rd time, to help you understand. My comments are directed at the allegation of plagarism by the ''frum paper.'' Not the school-kid.

They say great minds think alike. The author of the article in the frum paper did not use IFT's words. He did reach the same conclusion. The same idea can come across more than one persons mind. Especially a good idea that makes a lot of sense. There is nothing unusual about this concept. And that is nothing like plagarism. Not in Websters and not in journalism school.

Anonymous said...

What Joseph seems to be talking about is the IFT's old post about plagarism, where he accused an author in a frum paper of plagarizing his post on an issue. Joseph does not seem to be referring to the (primary) allegation in this post by IFT regarding the school dillema letter to the editor of the the other frum paper.

IFT, my question is what halacha in Shilchun Aruch does plagarsim violate (as you say)? There is no concept of intellectual property rights in the Torah (at least according to many poskim including Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach and Rav Eliyashiv.)

Anonymous said...

Joseph said:
"You need to deflate your ego. Plagiarism is wrong. So is crying wolf. You provide too few details to judge your latest allegation."

What is vague about IFT's response?

IFT states that he was copied: "WORD FOR WORD – from the first word to the last word."

I do not understand Joseph's concerns:

I can sum up my feelings on this matter the following way: Any person that copies anothers prose "WORD FOR WORD FROM THE FIRST WORD TO THE LAST" IS A PLAGIARIST.

If you do not believe me call Jayson Blair.

Anonymous said...

IFT said:
"In one case my post was sent in its ENTIRETY, word for word – from the first word to the last word!"

IFT's allegation is not vague.

Joseph said...

In the last case IFT gave enough information that made it obvious which article and which ''frum paper'' he was accusing. Then readers could judge for themselves whether they agreed with IFT's assesment that he was plagarized. And many disagreed. In this case there was nothing to look at. Yes, the accusation was that it was word for word. And if true that is the clearest form of plagarism. But one must take his word for it, regarding the circumstances of the case (unlike the last alleged case.) In this alleged case we can't ''independently'' judge the facts of the case, like ''independent'' frum thinker likes to do on many other situations. That is what was meant by vague. Perhaps the term vague would be better replaced by ''non-verifiable.''

Anonymous said...

IFT, just to add to my question above regarding the Torah and IP rights. While many (all?) poskim hold there is no concept of IP rights in the Torah, some of them will disallow say copying of a music CD on the basis that it is taking away parnassah from the author of the music CD. But that would not seem to apply in many cases of plagarism (i.e. IFT does not appear to lose revenue by being plagarized. If we can somehow ''drey'' an explanation how he is losing revenue, it would have to be a real stretch.)

BTW, regarding the conversationm above, some folks seem to be confusing Joseph's comments as referring to IFT's post here while in actuality he is talking about IFT's original plagarism post regarding an article actually published in a periodical.

(This is anon3:30)

Anonymous said...

anon3:30 here again. I recall a halachic requirement to credit a source. I can't quite place it. If you know this let me know.

One thing though about that. That requirement would seem to apply if you are aware of the source. If the source is anonymous (i.e. IFT), you cannot credit the source since you do not know who the source is. (I don't see how the anonymous source can demand that you credit a pseudiom (i.e. I.F.T.) he chose. If you feel I am incorrect on this bracketed point, please explain your source.)

Anonymous said...

Joseph:
I have one question for you: Assuming IFT's "non-verifiable" accusation that he was copied word for word is true, do you agree with IFT that it was Plagiarism.

If yes, why do you qualify your words with: "But one must take his word for it, regarding the circumstances of the case"

Why the double talk. IF TRUE THERE IS NO JUSTIFCATION. What do you mean by: "regarding the circumstance"

You seemed to have been schooled in subtle nuance that would even make John Kerry dizzy.

Joseph said...

Mr. Anon1:35, I answered your question at least once before (see my comment at 1:53.) I will not be repetitive any longer. Please read before asking.

Anonymous said...

Theres nothing nuanced about what Joseph said. You may disagree, but it is straightforward. Or you may not understand what he is saying, with plagarism being a complicated issue (not its propriety, but rather identifying it in many instances.)

Chaim said...

Okay, for all those commentators apprently missing the point Joseph is referring to IFT's post here:

http://independentfrumthinker.blogspot.com/2006/12/yateds-article-on-lakewood-recall.html

As I understand it, since IFT referenced that 'incident' here, the insinuation is that he belives Yated plagarized it or it was borderline plagarism. Joseph is defending Yated. He is not defending the school dilemma plagarism (he just said since it never actually was published we must accepts IFTs account of it happening, in which case it was indeed plagarism.)

Hope this stems the confusion above.

Independent Frum Thinker said...

Joseph –
There seems to be some confusion here.
This post is not referring to anything I wrote about two months ago. It is referring to a recent incident in which my post was copied word for word in its entirety and submitted without my knowledge to a Frum newspaper, which is plagiarism in its purest form.
I also mentioned in passing that this comes on the heels of reading an article in a different publication which sounded strikingly similar to my post. Although I have no proof that this was plagiarism, it does sound suspicious especially knowing how my post was well-publicized and that someone had sent it in to a different publication. Either way, I only mentioned it in passing to the real issue of someone copying my post word for word.
Both of these incidents happened in the last two weeks, and I am not discussing my post from two months ago.
I hope this clarifies things.

Anonymous Mar 15, 2:33 –
Correct.

Anonymous Mar 15, 3:30 –
Please see my response to Joseph. I am not referring to an old post.
As to your question on Intellectual Property rights; it is not a simple issue, and certainly not something an Ehrliche Yid should do.
Here is a link: IP rights

Anonymous Mar 15, 5:26 –
Thank you.

Anonymous Mar 15, 5:32 –
Correct.

Anonymous Mar 16, 12:00 –
I fail to see the problem in crediting an anonymous source. Let’s say you wouldn’t know who publishes the NY Times, you wouldn’t have to credit it? Obviously in that case you wouldn’t credit the name of the publisher but would still credit the NY Times. This is no different.

Anonymous Mar 16, 1:35 –
Apparently Joseph simply doesn’t take my word for it. If that is how he feels, so be it. It doesn’t change the facts as I know them.

Anonymous Mar 16, 5:17 –
I have to disagree. It may be difficult for you to identify this as plagiarism, but I who received the email know it as a fact. Joseph seems to doubt my honesty.

Chaim –
As I explained above, I am not referring to that old post. Hence, if that is Joseph’s concern, this is not the place for it.

Anonymous said...

IFT, The link you provied regarding the Torah and IP indicates that poskim hold that there is no IP rights protections in the Torah, whle others disagree. But even (according to that article) the poskim who hold of IP rights generally do so on the basis of 1) loss of profit to the IP owner or 2) Dina D'Malchusa.

So even according to those poskim that support IP rights, it would seem if there is no loss to the owner (i.e. some blogs, or if you wouldn't purchase the product in the first place) it would be permitted even according to those poskim. (Also remember U.S. law allows most personal or 'fair use' copying.)

This is not to say you don't have to CREDIT the author (i.e. a blog.)

Joseph said...

Thanks for the clarification. Considering that makes 3 actual or alleged incidents (including Yated) of plagarizing (or suspicion of plagarizing) IFT, in my opinion it is only fair to provide more details so the readership can 'independently' judge for themselves if in fact it is plagarism (this point obviously does not apply to the 'word for word' incident. But it would still prove useful to have more details of that, including the name of the publication it was submitted too. This would be helpful in verifiably establishing the facts.) But the incident you described in passing deserves a fuller account.

Not to create mistrust, but with so many alleged incidents of plagarizing or suspicion of plagarizing IFT in such a relatively short period, I think we deserve a verifiable accounting of them. (I do not agree about ''protecting the wrongdoers.'')

Anonymous said...

By crediting the NYTimes, even if YOU didn't know who the publisher was, you are still effectively crediting the publisher as it is known by society who the publisher is. This is not the case by an anonymous source. And I don't know of any source that would require crediting a pseudiom the anonymous source concocted. If you know of a source please fill me in. Otherwise there is no way to credit the source, other than I suppose declaring ''written by an anonymous source.'' But again, where is it indicated that must be done?

steve said...

You need to put a warning on your home page that states that any unauthorized duplication is halachically forbidden. You see this on most sforim in the introductions regarding hasagat gvul.

Anonymous said...

Steve, but the question here is based upon which halacha is that? The authors rely on the opinion that says there is a concept of I.P. rights in the Torah (based on Dina D'Malchusa or loss of profits.) But the copier may rely on other poskim that don't agree their are I.P. rights in the Torah. Or in a situation where the author is not losing any money, there is an even greater legality to the copying.

Anonymous said...

That article of yours that was submitted word for word, did you inquire from the editor if the submitter attached his own personal name to it, as if he wrote it?

I am wondering if perhaps the submitter submitted the article anonymously, in whch case he never claimed credit for writing it (still wrong perhaps, but not plagarism.)

Shlomo said...

Am I the only one, but doesn't Joseph's obsession sound suspicious, almost as if he himself were the plagiarist?

Anonymous said...

That hadn't crossed my mind, but it would be pretty pathetic that the plagarist himself would open his mouth when the fire is still hot with attention.

But now I wonder if Shlomo is the plagarist, since we're casting aspersions... hmm... he is the only one to accuse someone... one must wonder. Ones sees himself in others. (A thief sees the next guy as a thief.)

Anonymous said...

I agree with Shlomo. Joseph does sound way too interested especially constantly harking back to the old post which was about the Yated.
Even here he writes:

"Thanks for the clarification. Considering that makes 3 actual or alleged incidents (including Yated)"....

IFT never mentioned Yated, but Joseph is crazy about it. I also suspect that Joseph is Yitzchok Singer trying to get back at IFT in a really low way.

Anonymous said...

can someone please clarify who singer is and what his gripe with ift is. allusions are not helpful. but i don't like shlomo. loosely throwing accusations brings suspicions upon oneself. i would be quite wary of him and his beef.

Anonymous said...

HAH. I really find all this hilarious. A bunch of anonymous guys accusing each other of various sins. Some with made up names, and some with an ''Anonymous'' monkier. Mr. Anonymous IFT vs. Mr. Anonymous Plagarist vs. Anonymous Joseph vs. Mr. Plain Anonymous vs Mr. Plain Anonymous 2 (or was it 3 or 4?) vs. Mr. Anonymous Shlomo.

I wonder if it is all one guy just entertaining himself, and having a ball at it!

Anonymous said...

Anon10:51 -
Singer is the Yated guy that IFT didn't accuse of plagarism. 10:41 sounds like IFT.

Anonymous said...

anon7:55, do you think IFT is posting comments here anonymously?

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Independent Frum Thinker said...

Anonymous Mar 18, 2:48 –
You may be right, though there is more to discuss. Whatever the case, no fine, upright & Ehrliche person would do something like that.

Joseph –
Perhaps you fail to comprehend my post and comments.
There is only one incident of plagiarism. I mentioned another incident in passing only, not as a clear incident of plagiarism, but since it was strikingly similar to my post, and someone forwarded my post to a different publication, it appeared like my post strongly influenced that article. However, as I clarified earlier, this post was mainly addressing the clear-cut case of plagiarism where someone copied my post word for word.
As for your insistence on bringing up an old post of mine; I completely fail to comprehend why you continue to discuss an incident of two months back which was clarified in my comments to that post.
Please refrain from continuing this discussion, as it is not progressing the way it was intended to.

Anonymous Mar 18, 3:17 –
Once again, there is no difference between the NY Times or this. It makes no difference if the publication has millions of readers or only thousands. Either way one should credit his sources.

Steve –
Good to see a familiar name!
I may take you up on your advice. Thank you.

Anonymous Mar 18, 5:35 –
There may be future monetary gain or circumstances that one may not be aware of. One should not Pasken for himself without discussing each particular case with a competent Rav.

Anonymous Mar 18, 6:35 –
Yes, I did inquire, and was not answered.

Shlomo –
Joseph may have an obsession with this issue, or is simply trying to create a disturbance.
To accuse him of being the plagiarist, while definitely possible, is nevertheless unconfirmed.

Anonymous Mar 18, 9:55 –
It’s possible, and if true is quite pathetic.
As for accusing Shlomo; that would make you guilty of the exact charge you level at Shlomo.

Anonymous Mar 18, 10:41 –
It is strange that he continues to refer to an old post that was not up for discussion here. But like I wrote to Shlomo earlier, he may have other motives and/or interests. To each his own.

Anonymous Mar 18, 10:51 –
Yitzchok Singer is the author of an article which I assumed – two months back – was heavily influenced by my post then. It was subsequently clarified in my comments to that post. However that incident is not being discussed here at all.

Anonymous Mar 18, 10:58 –
You may find it amusing but my site meter tracks IP addresses, Internet providers, & location, so I know the truth.
Actually, there is one person here who is deliberately commenting under different names, and I request that he stop. I would not want to resort to anything that might hurt someone. The one who should get this message will read this and realize that so as not to embarrass him I am playing along. However, enough is enough. Please stop, and let the conversations flow naturally.

Anonymous Mar 19, 7:55 / Anonymous Mar 19, 10:31 –
Please keep the comments intelligent and on target. Thank you.

nuch a chosid said...

interesting, it was just brought to my attention that a publication some where in Canada had printed this article about caring of my blog
honestly, it didnt bother me, i rather felt good about it,

p.s. thanks for your link to my blog in your comment on shpitzels,

Anonymous said...

IFT - I didn't differentiate between a blog and the NYTimes based on subscriptions or readership hits. I said they identify themselves (publisher and author), while many blogs do not.

So my question still remains, what requires one to credit an anonymous source who goes by some concocted pseudiom? You can't credit the author as he made himself unknown.

Anonymous said...

To follow up on your response to Anon6:35, IF the submitter had submitted it with your name--IFT, or anonymously--no name, would you still consider the incident plagarism (as commonly defined) or not plagarism, but still wrong?

Independent Frum Thinker said...

Nuch a Chosid –
Good for you. It still may not have been right for them to do so without receiving permission first.

Anonymous Mar 19, 6:33 –
There is no difference whatsoever between a publication and/or online site/blog that is published anonymously, or one that is not. One must credit his sources regardless. Just because to you it may appear as a “concocted pseudonym” doesn’t absolve one from his responsibility of stating that it was taken from that “concocted pseudonym”.

Anonymous Mar 20, 1:20 –
I’m not sure if that is legally defined as plagiarism, but it would still be wrong.

Anonymous said...

How do we know you didn't take it from them?

Anonymous said...

Anon4:58 - because it appeared here first (pretty simple.)

IFT - reg. your response to 6:33, on what basis and sources do you hold that position? (Assuming the person does not take credit for it himself.) A ''concocted pseudonym'' is by definition an anonymous original source. At best, crediting it to ''an anonymous writer'' would seem more than sufficient. If you feel otherwise, please provide sourcing for your basis.

reg. your response to 1:20, that (seemingly) was your situation here. So it appears that what was done to you was wrong, but not plagiarism (based on your own definition.) At least you do not know it to be plagarism, as you stated the editor did not tell you if the submitter sent it in anonymously, without any name attached.

Anonymous said...

I have seen sometimes that things are written without giving credit to the originator. On that topic, I would like to invite anyone with an original torah story to forwad it to torahstories@yahoo.com with contact information, for use in an upcoming book.If the story is used and you so desire you can be given full credit for submitting it.