One of the challenges of running this site is that I often get plagiarism stories that, while interesting or important, don’t really lend themselves to a great deal of analysis or commentary.
So, every once in a while, I like to bundle up a few such stories and put them together with limited commentary. For those familiar with the 3 Count column that I do for copyright stories, this is something similar but for plagiarism tales.
With that in mind, here are three plagiarism-related stories that are definitely worth taking a moment to catch up on.
In what has to be one of the crazier stories of plagiarism I’ve covered, former Green Beret Jordan Goudreau had admitted to leading a failed incursion into Venezuela for the purpose of capturing socialist leader Nicolás Maduro.
The raid was doomed for a variety of reasons and Venezuela is now seeking the extradition of Goudreau from the United States.
However, amid all of the political and military wrangling came another story, that Goudreau’s company, Silvercorp USA, appears to have plagiarized significant parts of its website from various sources including The Department of Homeland Security and a crisis management firm.
Other pages on the site were identical to works published by motivational speaker Tony Robbins and more established competitors in the private security field. The site even appears to have copied some of its fine print from the educational website MasterClass.
The copying was first noticed by an anonymous Twitter user named Zedster with a note that the plagiarisms should have been a red flag for anyone seeking to work with Goudreau. The site remains online at this time.
Brief Thoughts: Honestly, the plagiarism is the least crazy and least interesting part of this story. Still, I see this kind of business plagiarism regularly and help clients combat it over at CopyByte. While it should have been a red flag for anyone seeking to work with Goudreau, I also think the competitors may want to look at monitoring their content. No matter what field you are in, you don’t want competitors using your content like this, especially if they’re going to cause harm to your industry.
Author and Instagram influencer Rachel Hollis landed in some controversy after posting the quote “Still, I RISE” on her Instagram and Twitter accounts. The quote, which was posted without attribution, is from the famous poet Maya Angelou and is the title of one of her most famous works.
Hollis has been accused of plagiarizing quotes on social media in the past but this story gained extra attention because Hollis, who is white, plagiarized from a well-known and much-loved black author. The post was eventually deleted and Hollis posted an apology putting the blame on her “social team”.
However, that apology did not do much to blunt the backlash and many of those calling Hollis out are hoping that others learn the importance of acknowledging the work of black creators.
Brief Thoughts: Obviously this story warrants much deeper analysis but I do not feel I am the person to provide it. I’m neither a person of color nor any kind of expert in racial issues such as these. I’m simply not qualified to say much here on the issues of greatest importance. Still, it is a powerful reminder about the importance of attribution and how it impacts far more than just the author who was denied credit.
In what may sound like a copyright story but is very much a plagiarism one (or at least a copycat one), the Chinese government is clamping down on “copycat” buildings in the country.
China has become somewhat famous for its copycat versions of other nations’ architecture. This has included fake versions of the Eiffel Tower, London’s Tower Bridge, The Sydney Opera House and even The White House. It’s also included whole towns and cities built to mimic the stylings of other nations.
However, the Chinese government has handed down a new decree that says “plagiarizing, imitating and copycatting” designs is prohibited. Though buildings have been protected under copyright in China since 2001, that protection is limited and is often difficult to enforce.
Still, this new decree has less to do with supporting the rights of architects and more about trying to encouraging local architectural styles while limiting foreign ones. As the government said, the decree aims to “Strengthen cultural confidence, show the city’s features, exhibit the contemporary spirit and display the Chinese characteristics.”
Brief Thoughts: China is always a heated topic when it comes to intellectual property, any intellectual property. The country passed a similar decree in 2016 against “oversized, xenocentric and weird” architecture that had almost no impact so it may be the new restrictions change little. But, even if the reasons may be questionable, I’m certain at least some architects will feel better know they’re less likely to be confronted by imitations of their work.
All in all, these are all important stories about plagiarism but not ones that really fit the usual format I use on this site.
Still, if you’re someone that is interested in plagiarism, these are all worth a read and some thought. They are all going to impact the plagiarism landscape in some way or say something about that landscape that needs to be said.
In the end, I’m not the barometer of what is or is not important with plagiarism. Just because I don’t have a great deal to say or can say about a story doesn’t make it any less crucial.
With that mind, these are all stories you definitely need to at least be aware of.