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Newspaper Plagiarizes Blog, Taunts Real Author 301

Posted by timothy
from the shades-of-cooking-magazines-past dept.
iandennismiller writes "I've been keeping an eye on this viral marketing campaign called Petite Lap Giraffe — it's the DirecTV ads with the Russian guy and the tiny giraffe. I was pretty quick to debunk the existence of the giraffes, so a lot of people have been visiting my blog as a result. Today, I noticed a New-York area newspaper that was represented my research as their own, so I asked them to link to my blog (i.e. provide attribution). What ended up happening perfectly illustrates that newspapers just don't understand how the Internet works ..."
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Newspaper Plagiarizes Blog, Taunts Real Author

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    • Someone needs to let this blog writer know that writing an article based on knowledge learned in another article is not plagiarism.

      • by jdpars (1480913)
        Just like writing about Shakespeare and including metaphors interpreted by someone else isn't plagiarism, right?
        • by JustOK (667959)

          et tu, jdpars?

          • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

            by Anonymous Coward

            Alas, Poor Yorick, I misquoted him well.

        • Just like writing about Shakespeare and including metaphors interpreted by someone else isn't plagiarism, right?

          Wrong. That would be presenting another's ideas as your own. However presenting facts gleaned elsewhere is not plagiarism. So if the article has said words to the effect of "we know they are not real because look they use this stock footage photograph" that is not plagiarism because they are reporting knowledge gained from elsewhere, not someone else's thoughts or ideas. Even if they claim that they discovered the photo is is still not plagiarism - that would just be a lie.

          As far as facts are concerned

          • by jdpars (1480913) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @12:34AM (#35662966)
            You really need to read more academic (probably focus on literature) rules on plagiarism. They're pretty strict, and if you can't show your original thought, and what you wrote is the same as what someone else wrote, it's plagiarism. Journalism has a nice little habit of avoiding academic rules, though, because they actually get paid and can use that money for lawyers.
      • by MoonBuggy (611105) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @12:34AM (#35662968) Journal

        That's arguable either way - it's certainly not a copyright issue, but plagiarism is a much broader term - but it's gone way beyond that since the newspaper have chosen to act like rude, unprofessional asshats.

        They paraphrased this guy's findings, he contacted them and asked for attribution. Had they been reasonable people, they then had the option to say: "Of course, we've added a thank you and a link to the bottom of our article." or (in private, as a direct response to the blogger in question) "It is publicly available information; as such we don't feel that attribution is necessary or appropriate in this case, and therefore we will not be providing it.".

        I don't doubt he would've complained if they'd chosen the latter, and I may even have agreed with him, but it would've been an issue with two reasonable points of view in play. What the newspaper actually chose to do was publicly add the following to the article: "A quick domain name lookup...which is free and public information...will give you those details, which we acquired - you know, being a newspaper with research capabilities and all - of our own accord (although some are trying to claim this information as their own “discovery” as a way to promote their own personal website! But enough of that...)". All the evidence suggests that they are snide, rude, and childish - I'm far more concerned about that than about the technicalities of plagiarism.

      • Someone needs to let this blog writer know that writing an article based on knowledge learned in another article is not plagiarism.

        I think someone needs to let him know that anyone who thought, even for a moment, that there was really such a thing as a "petite lap giraffe" and was over the age of 12 is a complete idiot who has no business ever writing anything. No-one needed him to point out they were fake.

  • by dcollins (135727) on Tuesday March 29, 2011 @11:20PM (#35662368) Homepage

    So is this where Judith Griggs, formerly of "Cooks Source" magazine, landed?

  • Great. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mikkelm (1000451) on Tuesday March 29, 2011 @11:22PM (#35662378)

    Ah, Slashdot. Where pointless and petty feuds between nobodies is front page material.

    • Re:Great. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by black3d (1648913) on Tuesday March 29, 2011 @11:51PM (#35662614)

      Indeed, but one is a private individual and one is an accountable business. I found it hard to read as well, but was amazed when I got to the part where the newspaper actually does pretend that it wrote the content itself rather than stealing it, and MOCKED the original author for even trying to lay claim to his own work.

      A quick domain name lookupwhich is free and public informationwill give you those details, which we acquired–you know, being a newspaper with research capabilities and all–of our own accord (although some are trying to claim this information as their own “discovery” as a way to promote their own personal website! But enough of that)

      For a "professional organisation" that is absolutely incredible. First of all they steal his content. Then they edit it to try and make it look like it wasn't stolen. And then they edit it again to actually make fun of the guy they stole it from.

      • by nomadic (141991)
        That's not content. It really isn't. It's a simple fact that can be ascertained from the source.
        • by hedwards (940851)

          The issue isn't that they independently came up with the same fact. The issue is that they stole the fact along with the text that surrounds it then tried to pass it off as their own work by editing the article. Since they edited the article I can't read it as it originally appeared, but if that's what really happened, then yes, they ripped the blog writer off for hist content.

        • Except they didn't do the leg-work. He did. They lifted the facts and some surrounding text from his blog and republished it without even the courtesy of a link by way of attribution. So what if they're facts? They wouldn't have had any idea what the facts were had he not done the work for them. All he wanted was a little courtesy, and they responded by trying to cover up what they'd done. Then they edited again to mock him.

          So, even though you think they did nothing wrong by cribbing from him, they obviou
        • by jrumney (197329)
          It could be ascertained from the source, and if it hadn't been for the other simple fact allegedly from the same source which was quietly removed from the article at the same time they added the comment about getting it from nslookup, I might give them the benefit of the doubt.
    • by definate (876684)

      Do you know anything more nerdy, than two nobodies arguing over pointless details?

      I sure as fuck don't.

      This is TRUE news for nerds.

  • Get even! (Score:5, Informative)

    by ISurfTooMuch (1010305) on Tuesday March 29, 2011 @11:23PM (#35662392)

    You aren't going to be able to make them admit to their plagiarism or post your comment on their site, so forget about that. However, you can make damn sure that, should anyone search for petite giraffes or longislandpress.com, they'll have a good chance of reading about this incident. So go out there and work to get this into Google's search results for one or both of those searches.

  • If a blog takes a newspaper story and rewrites it as their own, it's fair use, but if a newspaper does it....

    • Re:Mmm, ironing. (Score:4, Informative)

      by MishgoDog (909105) on Tuesday March 29, 2011 @11:46PM (#35662566)
      Actually, I'm fairly sure that to claim the 'fair use' argument, the original article has to be fully attributed. Which is this blogger's gripe in the first place...
      • Actually, I'm fairly sure that to claim the 'fair use' argument, the original article has to be fully attributed.

        No, attribution is not required for fair use.

      • I'm pretty sure you can't copyright knowledge so the point is moot. The actual gripe is the blogger wanting recognition. What the blogger has managed to do is paste the issue on a website where people like to talk about copyright. So you can cue the NRTFA comments that have nothing to do with the article. And they paraphrased so the only place, I have seen, that would really care about it is academic journals.
      • Actually, I'm fairly sure that to claim the 'fair use' argument, the original article has to be fully attributed.

        Nope, citation actually has next to nothing to do with it, at least under U.S. law. [wikipedia.org] This is a critical difference between copyright infringement (a legal matter) and plagiarism (an ethical convention held among academics and journalists), and is commonly misunderstood.

    • by Cigarra (652458)

      If a blog takes a newspaper story and rewrites it as their own, it's fair use, but if a newspaper does it....

      No it's not, it's still plagiarizing and mediocrity. Only that "professional" is expected to display much more professionalism than amateur bloggers. And if that's not the case, the deserve to be exposed as what they are: mediocres.

  • Why yes, obviously the only place the newspaper could have discovered this is your blog. Nobody involved in as non-technical field as the *press* could ever have heard of whois, or the many web interfaces to that command. You are right in assuming that you are the only person who was curious about this ad campaign to do even the most rudimentary amount of research.

    Unless you have logs showing hits from IPs that resolve as being at the paper, I think Occam's Razor applies.

    • by c_sd_m (995261) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @06:34AM (#35664594)

      Unless you have logs showing hits from IPs that resolve as being at the paper, I think Occam's Razor applies.

      But they do:
      Update: Since someone asked about my server logs, the answer is: yes, I checked them out. On March 28 (the date their article was published) I did log one request for favicon.ico that originated at mail.longislandpress.com. Here it is:
      XXX.XXX.XXX.XX – - [28/Mar/2011:20:56:31 +0000] “GET /favicon.ico HTTP/1.0 304 – “-” “Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 5.1; rv:2.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/4.0
      It was served with an HTTP 304 code (meaning “unmodified”) which suggests the favicon was already in someone’s cache. That means the page had previously been loaded. The timestamp is 20:56:31 UTC, meaning it was 4:56PM in New York. The timestamp on the original Long Island Press article is 5:02PM.
      To put it in a simpler way: someone from longislandpress.com visited my site less than 10 minutes before they published the article in question. I have to admit I didn’t expect the timestamps to be so close to each other, but there they are!
      Update: I kept going through the logs, and what do you know I noticed this entry, which originated from the same IP address as the previous entry:
      XXX.XXX.XXX.XX - - [29/Mar/2011:19:40:30 +0000] "GET /blog/2011/03/total-bummer-longislandpress-com-plagiarism-and-coverup/ HTTP/1.0" 200 13398 "http://www.longislandpress.com/[redacted wordpress admin.php]" "Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 5.1; rv:2.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/4.0"

  • by Dahamma (304068) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @12:06AM (#35662748)

    I'm sorry, I just can't take this "feud" seriously, it's a fight between two imbeciles to see who is more clueless or gullible. And Ian is winning that fight hands down.

    Can I get credit for debunking this myth 5 seconds after I saw the website, given that it's COMPLETELY OBVIOUS to 90% of the population that it's exactly the same theme as the DirecTV commercials that have been inundating network TV ever since the Superbowl?

  • "What ended up happening perfectly illustrates that newspapers just don't understand how the Internet works "

    The minor detail that you missed is that it's not the newspaper that doesn't get "how the internet works." You're suggesting instead that they learn about plagarism, yet that is - in fact - how the internet works.

  • Conspiracy Theory? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by DavidD_CA (750156) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @01:11AM (#35663220) Homepage

    What if ALL this.... the original video... the blog posting... the plagerized article in some obscure newspaper... and the backlash that followed..... were ALL part of the marketing campaign?

  • by laughingman4929 (1249696) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @03:18AM (#35663752)
    I simply googled a few lines from some of her other posts, and saw that has happened before. For Example googling "Michelle and their two-year-old daughter are dragged into the fray, the No" from her article http://www.longislandpress.com/2011/03/13/no-impact-man-screening-panel-discussion-march-13/ [longislandpress.com] Pulls up a summary from this site, which was published months earlier. http://bkfreestore.tumblr.com/post/1336085827/no-impact-man-an-outdoor-film-screening-with-colin [tumblr.com]
    • by unitron (5733) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @10:31AM (#35666508) Homepage Journal

      Unless Missy Yates actually wrote that copy for the Brooklyn Free Store, that's flat out plagarism, unless the BFS lifted it from somewhere else where she had written it, but I suspect that those words come from a press packet distributed by whoever's behind this guy's movie.

      And sure enough...

      http://www.noimpactdoc.com/about.php

      The following copypasta is taken directly from the above mentioned site.

      Colin Beavan decides to completely eliminate his personal impact on the environment for the next year.

      It means eating vegetarian, buying only local food, and turning off the refrigerator. It also means no elevators, no television, no cars, busses, or airplanes, no toxic cleaning products, no electricity, no material consumption, and no garbage.

      No problem – at least for Colin – but he and his family live in Manhattan. So when his espresso-guzzling, retail-worshipping wife Michelle and their two-year-old daughter are dragged into the fray, the No Impact Project has an unforeseen impact of its own.

      Laura Gabbert and Justin Schein's film provides an intriguing inside look into the experiment that became a national fascination and media sensation, while examining the familial strains and strengthened bonds that result from Colin and Michelle’s struggle with their radical lifestyle change.

      So either Yates wrote the above copy and recycled it at LIP, or she's a you-know-what-ist.

  • Let the people who matter know - their fans and readers. http://www.facebook.com/board.php?uid=63558643546 [facebook.com]

    Public backlash only happens when the part of the public who matters know about it.
  • by Monoman (8745) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @06:42AM (#35664624) Homepage

    Plagiarism? Arguable
    Copyright violation? Not at all
    Crappy journalism? You bet.

    The paper making snide comments reminds me of when Jon Stewart was on Crossfire and they tried accuse Jon's show of being part of the problem. Of course he pointed out the name of the channel his show is on and that his lead in was a show where puppets make prank phone calls. So now we have a supposedly legitimate newspaper publisher commenting about the guy's personal blog. They should have simply provided a link to his site as one of their sources which his web logs prove they went to his site before publishing the article. Big deal it isn't like he was going to get famous from being source linked in that paper's article. Now if he could someone get some real exposure by getting his blog linked to on a big tech site like Slashdot ..... errr, nevermind.

    Either that or it is yet another stealth marketing campaign for a yet to be determined product/service.

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