Plagiarism

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Urza

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You can view the properly formatted version here.


Of the most recent 22 threads created in the User-Submitted News section, all but 7 were complete and unaltered reposts of another's work.

As someone who for years covered consumer technology, writing articles very similar to the plagiarised work in question, the idea of reposting such work verbatim was absolutely reprehensible. Committing such an act as an employed blogger would likely end in immediate termination.

Why? Well for one, it's illegal. As per the Berne Convention, written word is copywritten work and protected under relevant laws. This is inherent and does not require any sort of registration with copyright authority.

That being said, the primary deterent was not one of legality (or maybe it is, however not the focus of this post), but rather morality. To take the work of another is considered sin. As with pirating movies or video games, to pirate written word similarly denies the creator their deserved requital. Yeah, it's great that you gave a little nod towards the one who actually wrote the words you are posting. What reason do I have to click-through if the entire article is already in front of me? You are effectively denying them the traffic while reaping the rewards of their work.

Although this is a rampant issue across the messageboards of the internet, I will use GBAtemp as the example.

GBAtemp is a community which inherently promotes IP theft. Conversation primarily consists of which flashcart or which software can be most effectively utilized to pirate games. This is not surprising, considering the site started as a file sharing platform for such works, and also not surprising that reappropration of content (such as news articles) would be rampant without staff moderation.

Therein lies the key differentiator. When a member throws out links to a ROM of the latest DS games, the post is eradicated (often along with the poster's account). An excerpt from the forum rules exemplifies this:

"Warez" is an internet term used to describe copyrighted software, game, film, music and data piracy.


We DO NOT HOST or PROVIDE ROMs/WADs/ISOs; or link to websites that do contain ROMs/WADs/ISOs.
Members may NOT ASK and MAY NOT PROVIDE INFORMATION or LINKS for and to places that provide ROM, WAD, and ISO files.
Members may also NOT mention torrent or warez-containing sites or channels by name or otherwise.
We do not condone piracy in any way.
Please go elsewhere if you only wish to download or share illegal files. The GBAtemp Forums are for discussion ONLY.

These rules also apply to other "warez" too, not just ROM, WAD and ISO files; this includes (but is NOT limited to) - licensed and copyrighted software, code, movies, music, video games, magazines, comics, e-books, television shows, illegal torrents, etc. These rules also account for "keygens" and "cracks" including how to obtain, apply or install them.
The rules are hyper-focused on deterring file sharing. The most tangible form of a digital object, and most likely to result in litigation against the site. Article sharing on the other hand appears to be a-okay seeing as the rules don't call it out, nor do the site volunteers tasked with keeping such things in check pay any mind to such content. Even former staff members are getting in on the fun.

At the end of the day, why does it matter? GBAtemp is a small site and posting content in this way probably won't have a quantifiable detriment on the actual authors. So why did I write this?

IP theft is bad. It's bad for industry and it's bad for our culture. It inhibits return on producing content, which in turn reduces motivation to actually produce more content. Now asking someone to stop pirating games or movies is probably futile. I'm not going to waste time trying to. Properly sourcing articles (without plagiarism) is very easy however.

Guild McCommunist's posts are a good example of proper sourcing. As you can see, he doesn't use any more than an errant sentence from the source material, opting instead to give his take on the important aspects in his own words. He doesn't take a long time writing either, just a quick gist then provided link if you want to see the actual article.

Even if that's too much for you: you're super-lazy or otherwise don't want to put any effort into your post, you know what you can do? It's entire body can just be a link! The Tempers get the full article, the authors get their page views, Costello gets active threads, and everyone is happy.

Summary
1) Plagiarism is bad.
2) Not plagiarising is easy.
3) Don't plagiarise.

PS: If you want to see what happens when rampant plagiarism goes unchecked, just peek at the wraggster-run ghost town of DCEmu. Once a thriving community and respected name in the homebrew scene, now whored out to hit as many ad impressions as he possibly can against other people's content. Absolutely disgusting.

PPS: Prior to writing this, I submitted to moderator review about 40 posts from the USN for plagiarism. As a responce to this, mthrnite has created a sticky denouncing such posts. Good to know that *someone* on the staff is aware that this is an issue.

PSPS: Here's Wololo's recent post on the subject.
 
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Snailface

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I think going so far as to accuse of members of plagiarism is going a little far if someone gives proper credit. In other words, it isn't plagiarism if proper credit is given (according to several definitions I've looked up).

However, I agree with the spirit of what you are trying to say -- that not making any personal contribution in a news thread is low community standard. So in that regard I do think the policy of requiring at least some paraphrasing in future news OPs is a step in the right direction. In addition, requiring putting direct quotes in spoilers will help alleviate the problem of news sites not getting the search hits they rightfully earned.

However...

About copyright anality, jeez that is kind of a slippery slope isn't it? Do we have to start getting permission from commercial news sites to quote their articles, or permission from Nintendo to post box art? Romhacks with borrowed sprites? Screenshots? (yes they're copyrighted too in a lot of circumstances) Let's not get too crazy about copyright preaching. Draw a reasonable line.
 
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Rydian

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I've gotta' agree with snailface on the most part (that contributions are important and the copy-pastes suck), but there was a rash of companies going around suing sites that had copied news articles even with source links (though they were way overzealous and eventually got shut down).
 
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Urza

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I should note that the use of "plagiarism" here was an intentional error. To be technically correct you can swap it out for "copyright infringement" on each instance, however the word plagiarism has more of a moral connotation whereas copyright infringement has more a legal one. Clearly I failed in that sense since your post frames it as a legal argument. There's probably a better and technically correct term, it didn't however come to me as I was writing it.

As far as I'm concerned, it's better to make zero contribution (a post that consists of only a link) rather than a negative contribution (republishing the entire content of the article and denying hits for the author).
 

alphamule

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Well, there's a reason that 'warez doodz' have something called 'nuking' in the 'scene'. Rereleasing a file with the exact same content and taking credit for another's work just days afterwords? Releasing an article that someone else wrote. Yeah, that's not cool, copyright violation or not. It'd be one thing if they acknowledged whose work they copied, but that wasn't happening now, was it?

From a cultural point-of-view, not allowing any copying at all is bad because it leads to works being lost. Books that last on an average of less than 100 years if left in good conditions, but having copyrights upto 50 years more than that? Historians are breaking laws left and right at the moment or otherwise historians from 500 years from now will wonder where all the books went. Then again, maybe someone will get lucky and find preserved copies due to lack of oxygen in landfills. :P Just today, I was reading the November 1957 issue of Fortune magazine, and it looks like it'll not last more than another 20 years. The web is way more volatile than that! If an article is really interesting, I'll keep a link (to give others) AND I'll save it to disk alongside related information.
 

sero

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I should note that the use of "plagiarism" here was an intentional error. To be technically correct you can swap it out for "copyright infringement" on each instance, however the word plagiarism has more of a moral connotation whereas copyright infringement has more a legal one. Clearly I failed in that sense since your post frames it as a legal argument. There's probably a better and technically correct term, it didn't however come to me as I was writing it.

As far as I'm concerned, it's better to make zero contribution (a post that consists of only a link) rather than a negative contribution (republishing the entire content of the article and denying hits for the author).
It definitely meets the definition in many cases. You can not copy a movie and distribute it free just because you put "Source: MGM Studio" on it. In the same way, reposting an article here robs the original poster of the benefits of reputation or recognition on his home website, or even minimizes the need for the opposing website while reducing its amount of ad revenue.
 

KingVamp

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It definitely meets the definition in many cases. You can not copy a movie and distribute it free just because you put "Source: MGM Studio" on it. In the same way, reposting an article here robs the original poster of the benefits of reputation or recognition on his home website, or even minimizes the need for the opposing website while reducing its amount of ad revenue.
Except the fact that you aren't normally made to buy the article. Other worlds, I didn't believe you can compare distributing news to distributing free movies.
Plus in most cases, it may even be difficult to find the original source and the best you can do is source where you got it from.
Even if you where to put a significantly change into your own words and remain not to put it as bias as possible, doesn't necessary
mean people would look at the source. Sourcing and redistributing could possible give the site more traffic.
 

Midna

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I suppose my research essay is plagiarism if I quote and credit a book?
We use source links. This is in no way plagiarism.
 

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For the essay example: would you quote an entire paper, call it good, source it, and say there shouldn't be a problem because you shoved in the source, so your professor has to be happy with it?

Same principle here. Quoting the entire article shows no work, while GBAtemp solely reaps the rewards of all of the traffic. It doesn't matter if you tossed in the source link if absolutely nobody cares to visit it because you already showed everything that somebody else created. The USN has always been a place where individuals are encouraged to post articles in a manner that they could be seamlessly moved to the front page if a mod deemed it worthy. Instead, magazine staff always has to do their own write-ups, and just links to the news topic as the discussion.

I'd personally love to see some front page quality articles in the USN, if not all of them being front page quality.
 

Rydian

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Yeah when I was mag staff I'd be denying articles submitted to the front page daily for being just a copy.

EDIT: Until that feature was changed anyways, and I was told to not bother and just browse USN myself and hand-pick the articles because the selection of copy-pasted was too big. But damn that number of articles staring at me always irked me. Watching me. Waiting for their time to strike.
 

Midna

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For the essay example: would you quote an entire paper, call it good, source it, and say there shouldn't be a problem because you shoved in the source, so your professor has to be happy with it?

Same principle here. Quoting the entire article shows no work, while GBAtemp solely reaps the rewards of all of the traffic. It doesn't matter if you tossed in the source link if absolutely nobody cares to visit it because you already showed everything that somebody else created. The USN has always been a place where individuals are encouraged to post articles in a manner that they could be seamlessly moved to the front page if a mod deemed it worthy. Instead, magazine staff always has to do their own write-ups, and just links to the news topic as the discussion.

I'd personally love to see some front page quality articles in the USN, if not all of them being front page quality.
My analogy was not perfect. This is a news section, not academia. The whole point of the section is to repost news. It would still only be plagiarism if we claimed the article was our own without giving credit
 

alphamule

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The traditional respectful method is to post just a few teaser paragraphs and then have a link to the original article. This benefits everyone, I think. It gets the publisher exposure that leads to click-ins and subscriptions/ad views, and it lets other people get 'fair use' of the article. Those people that had their lawsuits shut down were not even the copyright owners, by the way!
 
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Zarcon

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My analogy was not perfect. This is a news section, not academia. The whole point of the section is to repost news. It would still only be plagiarism if we claimed the article was our own without giving credit
Wololo's blog post makes an excellent point in that regard.
Would it be fine to post a link to an ISO, then link a source to a store that sells the game?
In his specific example, a PSN game and then a link to the PSN store page.
Why check out the original source if you can read the entire article here first?
Why buy the game if you can play the game pirated first?

Even with your essay example you'd only quote the relevant parts and source it, not copy an entire essay verbatim with no input of your own.
If nothing else, people should just quote a few points from the original article and let those interested click the source to read the rest.

Ultimately it comes down to morality as not enough people care unfortunately.
 
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alphamule

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Or post some game CG and summary? Or the demo? Because on this site, you'll get banned quicker than you can say "DMCA" if post the full game.
 

sero

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I suppose my research essay is plagiarism if I quote and credit a book?
We use source links. This is in no way plagiarism.
The Library of Congress would say otherwise. You can reference an article or use excerpts, but fair use ends when you supply enough of the original material to make it pointless for an individual to actually go to the original location and view the same material.

For example, I could review or give the plot of a Harry Potter book. But if I copied and pasted it almost entirely, it would be infringement whether the author sold or offered the books for free.
 

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I am shocked and appalled to find users of a site founded for pirating copyrighted material are not properly attributing sources. Shame on the lot of you.
Shh, we don't like to remind people that the 'GBAtemp' in 'GBAtemp' stands for temporary hosting of Gameboy Advance ROMs . This site does not endorse and never, ever supports the piracy scene. Ever.
 
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