It’s A Copy And Paste World — We Just Live In It

September 6th, 2005 · 4 Comments
by Booksquare

Before we begin, may we suggest that schools need to spend more time teaching today’s youth “attribution”? It is clearly no longer the province of journalists and scholars. While there are many forms of attribution, at the the very least, the original source of material should be noted when material is quoted. We understand that this requires a bit of work and some understanding of technology (for example, here, when we quote from other sources, we set off the quoted material and provide a link back to the original piece). A recent article of ours (on another site) was slashdotted and, as we watched in fascination, quoted and requoted to the point where some sites were posting something that directly contradicted our original statement.

Then there was another instance. We were doing research for another site, typed a phrase into Google, received our results, and then scratched our head. Surely that phrase was ours? But the site wasn’t, and further research showed that someone had kindly picked up our entire article (actually several articles) and reprinted them. Another site went further, replicating everything we had written, which made for funny reading as they’d taken circumstances unique to one situation and applied them to another.

In neither case were we flattered.

Now LexisNexis is introducing software that will aid in identifying plagiarism. Currently, the software is by subscription only, meaning well-funded organizations will have access while the rest of us will wait for equally useful tools. In the meantime, there’s always the Wayback Machine.

File Under: Square Pegs

4 responses so far ↓

  • Bernita // Sep 6, 2005 at 3:29 pm

    You mean I have to learn,on top of everything else, how to copy and paste too?
    Luddites unite.

  • Karen // Sep 6, 2005 at 4:58 pm

    Whole articles? Jeez. Complete with your byline? Though I’m not sure which is worse — no attribution, or a misapplied quote, documented, sort of.

  • Booksquare // Sep 6, 2005 at 5:28 pm

    Yes, you have to learn copy and paste. It’s a requirement to get out of high school these days, so those of us who might be a little older might need to enroll in a remedial course. It will be worth your while, I assure you.

    It was, truth be told, closer to an entire website of original content than one or two articles. Needless to say, tracking down the culprits would have required passports, visas, and, possibly, a trip via a very tiny airplane. And maybe a boat or two. It is an amazing Internet out there…

  • Joan Kelly // Sep 7, 2005 at 1:43 am

    Damn. I was going to offer to kick their asses for you, but the tiny plane and/or boat stuff is a deal breaker for me.

    Feel free to let me know if anyone within walking distance of my house ever does you wrong. I’m all over it!