Wrap Up: Engadget, Dan Brown & More

It’s been a busy week in plagiarism news, both in the blogging world and the meainstream media. It seems that, right now, the subject of content theft is on nearly everyone’s lips.

However, there hasn’t been enough time to cover everything so, without any further ado, here’s a look at what’s been going on in the world of plagiarism.

Engadget Accused of Miscrediting

In what is already being called the "misattribution of the year scandal", Engadget , a blog covering gadget and technology news, was accused yesterday of misappriopriating an article from fellow tech blog DAPreview.

According to DAPreview , they were the first to post an article about the Ubiquitous Multimedia Informator, a product on display at the 2006 CeBIT convention. Engadget reposted much that article, including a large image and, at first, attributed the article appropriately. However, sometime later, the article changed both to remove the link to DAPreview, giving credit to another site for the article, and to crop the photo, omitting DAPreview’s watermark.

This story quickly caught fire on Digg and created a near-instant anti-Engadget backlash.  This prompted Ryan Block, the managing editor at Engadget, to step in and both apologize for the error and correct it. In his comments, Block went on to say that it was he, not Paul Miller, the author of the post, who changed the attribution and that he did so because he mistakenly believed that a later post on the subject at MobileMag was the true source (Note: That story sites DAPreview).

In his apology Block also said, "I must apologize for any wrongdoing, and hope they and you understand my intentions were not ill natured but were just being rushed and distracted," and that he could "completely understand why DAPreview’s editors feel like we were trying to bite their content."

In the end, this incident does appear to be not one of malice, but a genuine mistake by an editor unfamiliar with a particular story. It doesn’t fit any traditional patterns of malicious plagiarism and, regardless of intention, the matter has been cleared up. 

Nonetheless, this story has sparked a second debate about Engadget’s alleged use of a blacklist to prevent certain sites from being linked. While no hard proof exists of such a blacklist, several sites have reported being passed over by Engadget, often in favor of another site which covers the story much later and even cites the original.

If these accusations do turn out to be true, they could put the recent scandal in a new light. But until they can be proved or otherwise confirmed, the matter does seem to be resolved.

Dan Brown’s Trial Ends

Dan Brown, the author of the best-selling book "The Davinci Code" (The DVC) took the stand this week and closing arguments completed in the final phase of his British copyright infringement trial. There, Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh, two of the three authors of the non-fiction book "The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail." (HBHG) say Brown "appriopriated the architecture" of their work for his fictional hit. 

Brown, for his part, denies plagiarizing HBHG but does admit to using it in his research for and references it the DVC, including one character in the book that was named after the authors of HBHG. On the stand, Brown was reportedly grilled by the plaintiff’s attorneys and had trouble recalling many details about the creation of the DVC. 

In a 69-page witness statment filed by Brown, he talks about the research help he received from his wife. Blythe Brown. Blythe’s absense at the London trial, which Brown said was due to her desire to remain out of the spotlight, was a major point of contention for both the plaintiffs who said that her evidence was crucial to their case. 

As for the ruling on the case, the judge will not return a verdict for several weeks and hopes to have one before Easter.

Also, as many of you will recall, this is not the first time Dan Brown has been accused of plagiarism. In a U.S. lawsuit Lewis Perdue, the author of "Daughter of God" and "The Da Vinci Legacy" alleged Brown plagiarized his works. Last August, a judge ruled out any copyright infringement saying that there were no "substantial similarities" between his works and Brown’s book. 

Notorious B.I.G. Album Sales Halted

Finally, in music news, sales of rapper Notorioug B.I.G.’s first album, "Ready To Die" have been stopped by a Nashville judge after a jury determined that the title track on the album illegally sampled from the Ohio Players’ 1992 hit "Singing in the Morning".

"Ready to Die", which was released in 1994, has sold over four million copies to date and was the rapper’s breakout album. The jury also ruled that Sean "Diddy" Combs, Notorioug B.I.G’s record producer, and Bad Boy Entertainment must pay $4.2 million in damages to plaintiffs Bridgeport Music and Westbound Records, the plaintiffs in the case. The judge also blocked all sales of the song, including via download, and has banned radio play of it. 

All the defendants in the case have said that they plan to appeal. 

Notorious B.I.G. died in a driveby shooting in 1997 and an investigation into his death is still ongoing.

[tags]Plagiarism, Content theft, Copyright, Engadget, Davinci Code, Dan Brown, Lewis Perdue, Notorious B.I.G.[/tags]

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  1. [...] Originally, I was going to skip this week’s wrap up column as little plagiarism news seemed to come up before the Tuesday deadline. It seemed that, possibly the Web was a bit tired of discussing the issue after the Domenech and Engadget scandals.  [...]