In San Antonio, Texas a woman by the name of Sandra Monica Rincon submitted to and won a weekly amateur poetry contest earning both publication in the Sunday edition of the San Antonio Express News and the $20 prize.
The only problem was that it wasn’t her poem.
According an article in the paper, the poem, entitled “Love in America”, was origianally published by Pulitzer Prize-winning American poet Marianne Moore in 1966. The infringement was discovered by two different college students who emailed their concerns to the paper.
Sadly, this type of infringement is quite common. However, I love the quote from the paper’s editor:
“The sad fact is that plagiarism has spread like a virus with universal access to so much published material on the Internet, and that is forcing newspapers to adopt new measures to protect the integrity of their content.”
It’s nice to see the newspaper adopting new policies to keep this type of incident from taking place again while remaining transparent about their handling of the matter. Many would have simply done away with the contest or buried the error in the “corrections” section of the paper. They’re admitting their responsibility and taking action, that’s a rare but beautiful thing.
On the flip side, the plagiarist has taken no responsibility as of yet. When called for a comment, she simply hung up. However, in my personal experience, that reaction is very typical. Most plagiarists would rather duck and hide from the shame than apologize, even if they know in their hearts that they were wrong.
A coward’s way out for a cowardly crime. Seems fitting enough.