Did writer steal or not? You choose!

Discussion in 'Current Events' started by princealfie, Apr 26, 2006.

  1. princealfie macrumors 68030

    princealfie

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    #1
  2. Doctor Q Administrator

    Doctor Q

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    My presumption is that the passages were in Viswanathan's memory, but perhaps not consciously, from having read McCafferty's books a couple of years prior, so when she thought she was writing her original work she found McCafferty's words in the back of her mind.

    I've written a post in the forums now and then, telling a story of some kind, and discovered later that I had posted the same story previously, in eerily similar wording. It surprises me that I could think I was inventing a narrative that I was instead recreating. So I can make sense of her claim that it was an "honest mistake".

    Even if it's an honest mistake, she's still correct to change her book, add the acknowledgment, and apologize.
     
  3. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    What's really wild about this story is the amount of money (a half-million dollars) this young woman was advanced for writing a book, having never written one before. Then it turns out parts were plagiarized? Imagine my shock and surprise.
     
  4. princealfie thread starter macrumors 68030

    princealfie

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  5. treblah macrumors 65816

    treblah

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    'All Things Considered' did a segment about this story yesterday.

    I chalk it up to the sub-conscious. There is just no way she would do this intentionally and think she could get away with it. Not to mention the publishers thinking the same. Honest mistake. She apologized and they said they are going to change the passages.
     
  6. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    I heard about this incident via the ATC story yesterday. To be honest, I couldn't make it all the way to the end of the segment. Well, I'd just pulled my car into the garage, but that's not the entire reason I switched off the radio before the entire story was done. It simply disgusted me no end that a publisher would throw this kind of money at a complete novice, and a teenager besides. What did they expect? I can only hope that the individual at the publishing company who made this decision has been sent packing.
     
  7. Diatribe macrumors 601

    Diatribe

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    #7
    Yeah, never have any faith in talented people. Don't ever trust anyone. And the world will be a better place. :rolleyes:
     
  8. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    ??

    Plenty of talented, not to mention experienced, people write books without huge advances, in fact without any advance at all. I guess that means they have faith in their own talent. Whether this young woman is a talented writer is certainly debatable, if only because parts of her book were plagiarized.
     
  9. dornoforpyros macrumors 68040

    dornoforpyros

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    #9
    "bad artist copy good artist steal" -Pablo Picasso
     
  10. Diatribe macrumors 601

    Diatribe

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    I am just saying that there probably was a reason for an advance like that. Besides, who would copy something like that and think to get away with it? I'm still siding with innocent until proven guilty and reading something a couple of times will make you so comfortable with it that you cite without even thinking about it being from someone else. It happens. Whether it happened here is debatable but judging by her response I think it was an honest mistake.
    If it wasn't I'll agree with you not only on the part of being untalented but also on being stupid as hell.
     
  11. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    Best case scenario, she plagiarized unintentionally. Best case, this was the result of inexperience. Best case, she didn't deserve a $500,000 advance from a publisher, which should now be questioning the amount of faith they placed in a novice writer.

    Even more importantly, plagiarism is plagiarism, intentional or otherwise. Some very reputable writers have been caught making similar errors of judgement or care. They didn't get to claim "innocence until proven guilty," as though this will all be found out in a trial. They goofed, the proof was on paper, and it damaged their reputations permanently, even though they had decades of good and credible work behind them.

    This young woman deserves no better, and I'm not sure why anyone thinks otherwise. The only difference in this instance is I think the publisher shares some of the blame.
     
  12. Diatribe macrumors 601

    Diatribe

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    #12
    Let's judge every person by one mistake. Never give them a second chance because you already saw that they screw up. Because only stupid people make mistakes... :rolleyes:
     
  13. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #13
    Good grief, what a crass oversimplification of what I've said.

    And for the record, I never called anyone stupid.
     
  14. Diatribe macrumors 601

    Diatribe

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    I know I did but basically you said she did it intentionally and she was talentless and didn't deserve no better nor the faith placed in her.
    I think that's pretty close to what I summed up. Everyone makes mistakes, intentionally or unintentionally. That doesn't make them deserve anything but the experience to learn from it. Who are we to judge that, we don't even have all the details.
     
  15. nbs2 macrumors 68030

    nbs2

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    I don't think he said that at all. The point is that writers who have made the mistake of plagiarizing unintentionally have seen careers destroyed for what they have done. These are people who have long shown that they are capable for developing their own ideas and stories, and have mistakenly reproduced something that was not their own as their own. Even though they fess up to it, they are villified - and the proof of innocence is buried on page 15.

    There was also no assertion that she is talentless (although, I think she is). But, there is an assertion that faith should not have been placed in her. Even if the publisher had faith, $500,000 worth of faith is a lot. This isn't the MLB, professional soccer, or the NBA where you sign a kid out of HS based on potential (but it is silly that they do it). If the writer is a rookie - you pay them based on what they sell. If they have proven themselves as writers or a name that people will buy (see: WJC and his $20m advance), then you deliver an advance. And I think the thought that the advance played a part her doing what she did is a reasonable one. Are you saying that you wouldn't be tempted to do whatever you needed to keep the $500k? I mean, if the original author was that inspirational, she should know those books better than any other. I know exactly when I begin to sound like Roald Dahl in my writing...

    And the amount of money that she is making off of this (advance plus whatever else she earns) should be used to repay the author she stole from. To admit she made a mistake and keep the benefits? I guarantee that when I was a kid not too long ago, if I stole something, my parents would have knocked me silly if I didn't give the item back. There is not a single person on this planet (or any other) who should keep the benefit after stealing.
     
  16. Diatribe macrumors 601

    Diatribe

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    #16
    And apart from that how is it fair that someone gets their career destroyed for one mistake?
    And you're basically saying that signing LeBron James was a silly thing to do? I think there are quite a few people that would disagree with you ;)
     
  17. aquajet macrumors 68020

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    #17
    It's not a matter of fairness, but rather credibility. Unfortunate at times, but true.
     
  18. Diatribe macrumors 601

    Diatribe

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    #18
    I just think it's pure hypocrisy to judge people by one mistake... we're all perfect all right. :rolleyes:
     
  19. nbs2 macrumors 68030

    nbs2

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    It's unfortunate, and it isn't fair to have your career destroyed by one mistake. I don't think anybody believes that she deserves to have her career destroyed. But, the fact is that she plagiarized. It's wrong, it's stupid, and if she really loves that author, she should have known what she was doing.

    If LeBron had taken steroids by accident, I would be just as upset. And yes signing him was a brilliant move, but he he had demonstrated his talent and it was reasonable to expect him to perform at the NBA level. But, for every LeBron (or even anything close to it), how many Kwames are there? That's why the NBA is trying to impose age restrictions.
     
  20. kiwi-in-uk macrumors 6502a

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    #20
    Tell that to the next surgeon who is about to open you up ...

    I agree with the other posters - if she plagiarises then she should pay the penalty. Sure, it might take her some time to rebuild her reputation, but that is part of the cost of being sloppy (I'm being generous in assuming the plagiarism was unintentional ... if she is so telented then she would know when she is plagiarising).
     
  21. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    No, I said none of these things. I never said she did it intentionally, and I never said she was talentless. The only close to accurate characterization of my opinion that you have repeated here is that she didn't merit a $500,000 advance. To me, that's self-evident.
     
  22. CorvusCamenarum macrumors 65816

    CorvusCamenarum

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    #22
    Point the first: How similar and in what context(s) are these passages? The article neglects to mention. Are we talking about style or substance?

    Point the second: Paraphrasing a former writing teacher of mine, "Every good idea has already been had." That being said, I'd be more willing to extend the benefit of the doubt if this girl had never read the plagarizee's books.
     
  23. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #23
    Answer the first: The passages I heard on the radio yesterday were virtually word-for-word identical.

    Answer the second: I don't believe she claimed never to have read the other book.
     
  24. thedude110 macrumors 68020

    thedude110

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    #24
    Link to several passages.

    Writers steal. Writers should steal. And with a 17 year old (no offense 17 year olds, but your general track record re: "knowing what plagiarism is" and "knowing what it is and having an appropriate professional response toward it" isn't so hot), yeah. She stole it. Consciously.

    17 year olds who only vaguely know better and who really want to write the novels they read in English class.


    Yep, I doubt that was a Lacanian tumble!
     
  25. Doctor Q Administrator

    Doctor Q

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    #25
    After seeing the passages, it's harder to give her the benefit of the doubt. If she didn't have one book open while writing the other, she has an unusually great memory.
     

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