Recurring Themes: Two Topics I Don’t Cover Now

When I started Plagiarism Today about a year and a half ago, I had, and still do have, a voracious appetite for all things plagiarism, content theft and copyright.

I tried to cover everything, every scandal, every rumor and even every article written on the subject. It was draining and it made the first few months of the site rather scattered, talking more about the Davinci Code and less about issues that affect Webmasters.

As time went on and this site matured, I began to focus more on quality, than quantity. I let some stories go by that didn’t really affect Webmasters and worked on some original things. The result has been, in my opinion, a much stronger site and a more useful blog.

Still, there are two topics that, while somewhat relative, have become such recurring themes that it is almost impossible for me to report on them effectively. For the most part, I’ve just abandoned them lest the site as a whole be bogged down by them.

Plagiarism In India

India is the world’s most populous democracy and a rising Internet power. However, it seems to have an unusually strong problem with plagiarism. This problem is echoed by colleagues of mine that teach high school and college in India as well as mainstream media reports .

Desipundit does a great job covering many of the plagiarism problems in India and has wound up in my watchlists and Technorati feeds many times for it. I myself covered at least one case of an Indian blogger being accused of plagiarizing.

Now, it seems as if not a month goes by without another report of plagiarism originating from India. Be it from bloggers, journalists, scientists or students.

For whatever reason, India seems to be struggling with these issues unusually hard. Most Indian writers are good and honest, but the rate of plagiarism incidents has been so overwhelming that it threatens to put a taint on the entire country.

Whether this is a cultural issue, one related to India’s changing place in the world or something else altogether is beyond me. It is a disturbing trend though and one that I am glad to see many Indian intellectuals are fighting against.

I hope that they make progress for the sake of everyone on the Internet.

Fan Fiction Plagiarism

Fan fiction communities are so tight knit around their topics of interest that plagiarizing content would seem to be suicide. Yet, that doesn’t seem to stop it from happening.

Though fan fiction plagiarism scandals have been less common in recent months, they are still very regular occurrences and wind up in my various watchlists with great regularity.

Fan History keeps a brief history of fan fiction plagiarism scandals, not updated since July 2006, that shows the problem pretty clearly. Nearly every month at least one plagiarism scandal breaks out in the fan fiction community.

Plagiarism of fan fiction is interesting on many levels since most fan fiction is, in and of itself, a copyright violation. Since copyright law gives copyright holders the sole right to create derivative works, most fan fiction violates the law just by existing. Fortunately for fan fic communities, their practice is well tolerated by most key players, so long as it isn’t commercialized, but it still raises questions on how to deal with such incidents.

Fortunately, most fan fiction communities seem to be well-equipped to handle such matters from with, alienating plagiarists and ensuring that the original author receives their due credit. These matters rarely make it to any kind of cease and desist letter or DMCA notice as the group, forum or community deals with the matter swiftly without any official prompting.

Still, it’s an issue that has come up far too many times for me to count and doesn’t seem likely to fade in the future. Unless something major changes, it doesn’t seem likely I’ll be covering fan fiction plagiarism again, at least not directly.

Conclusions

As my time and energy have become more scarce, I have tried to focus them both on stories that directly affect Webmasters, bloggers and artists. I hope to continue doing that.

The sad side effect is that some stories, even important or interesting ones, are not always going to be covered. In the near future, I may start simply linking to interesting but somewhat off-topic plagiarism stories, if there is enough interest in it.

In the meantime, there is at least two areas where the news has become so overcrowding that it is impossible for me to cover it effectively. Though there are many good writers in both, the scandals have become all-too-frequent and would detract from this site’s stated goals.

Then again, I never say never because I don’t know what tomorrow may bring.

Tags: Content Theft, Copyright, Copyright Infringement, Copyright Law, DMCA, Plagiarism, India, Fan Fiction, Journalism

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