s skippy the bush kangaroo

skippy the bush kangaroo

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

it's not plagiarism if the source wants you to take it

the latest non-scandal to sweep blogtopia (and yes! we coined that phrase! and we'll sue anyone who uses it without giving us proper attribution!) involves sherrod brown, who is running against mike dewine in ohio. the
cleveland plain dealer accuses brown of plagiarizing one of our fav bloggers, nathan newman:

rep. sherrod brown wrote to sen. mike dewine last friday, voicing concern about supreme court nominee samuel alito's labor record.

brown's language was crisp -- and was plagiarized.

roughly 90 percent of what brown, an avon democrat, wrote in his letter was lifted from an internet posting by a blogger, as brown's office acknowledged monday when the plain dealer presented the similarities.

brown had not credited the blogger, nathan newman of nathannewman.org, or any other source.

let's set aside the question of whether a private letter needs to present attribution of source material (after all, it's not something intended for publication as if it were original thought, it's just a communication between two people). let's instead concentrate on how the journalist approached this non-story.

unfortunately, the reporter, stephen koff, failed to get nathan newman's response to the charge that someone used nathan's research to make a valid point. and nathan's response was basically, "who the hell cares?"...

who the hell cares if a brown staffer copied a factual listing of legal cases into a letter? this was hardly a literary blog post using deathless prose for the ages. it was the facts that made this post interesting, not it's literary value.

but in typical manner, the response of the media is to ignore the substance and focus on some stupid "he said, she said" story.

guess what, sherrod brown's staffer was lazy and didn't do a rewrite of my blog post or put in an attribution line. but the report on this story was even lazier, doing an easy "call the campaigns for quotes" story instead of the harder work of dealing with the substance of alito's anti-worker legal record.

so write the author of this story, stephen koff, at skoff@plaind.com or call him at 216-999-4212, and demand that he spend at least as much time in a story on the substance of my blog post as he did on this silly story.

nathan goes on to point out that the post in question was also posted on daily kos, which has, at the bottom of every single page, this permission clause:

site content may be used for any purpose without explicit permission unless otherwise specified.

we took nathan's advice, and wrote mr. koff the following:

mr. koff,

i hope you will print a correction about your factually inaccurate assertion that sherrod brown "plagiarized" a blog post from nathan newman, in light of the fact that the information was posted on the daily kos, which says at the bottom of the page:

"site content may be used for any purpose without explicit permission unless otherwise specified."

so, with implicit permission given to use the content, there is no plagiarism.

by the way, why don't you actually address the content of brown's letter, rather than the source of the information contained therein?

we suggest you all do write a similar letter.
posted by skippy at 5:17 PM |


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