Update: See comments for important information about this article.
Most plagiarism stories are very sad tales involving copyright holders losing control of their precious content and plagiarists, both the meek and the proud, being brought down in flames. It’s very rare for such stories to have even a glimmer of humor in them but, this one certainly does.
A recent article in the New York Press discusses Brad Vice’s recent short story “Tuscaloosa Knights”, part of his short story collection entitled “The Bear Bryant Funeral Train”. The story borrowed many passages from a 1934 book called “Stars Fell on Alabama”, published by Carl Carmer.
Even though Vice could lose his job as an English professor at Mississippi State University, his literary award has been revoked and his book has been recalled, a great deal of humor has been found in the almost universal panning of his “improvements” to the original work.
When one compares the two pieces side by side, it becomes clear that Vice’s changes were not for the better. His “contributions” are almost entirely stilted, awkward, flat or simply outright wrong. He took a very strong piece of literature and made it mediocre at best.
An example of this can be found in the following lines:
Original: “It’s the Ku Klux,” said Knox, “They’re havin’ a parade tonight. Goin’ to burn a cross out at the riverside.”
Plagiarized: “It’s the Ku Kluxers,” said Pinion…. “They’re having a parade tonight. Going to burn a cross out at River Road.
But even funnier is his claim that his plagiarism was due to his “ignorance concerning the principles of fair use.” I would sincerely hope that a person holding a PhD in English and a MFA in Creative Writing would understand at least the fundamentals of copyright law.
In the end, the whole story is just a strangely amusing side note to the plagiarism struggle and a nice break from the serious and depressing nature of this battle.
[tags]Plagiarism, Writing, Publishing, Humor, Content Theft, Copyright Infringement[/tags]