Have I Been Plagiarized?

by Joshua Foust on 4/20/2007 · 19 comments

Recall if you will my rambling exploration of Laurence’s article on NGO’s and Central Asia. It has mysteriously appeared, in full, on the subscription section of a newspaper website (The Times of Central Asia), under the dateline “TASHKENT, April 17 (Registan).”

Here is a link to the Google Cache, as the subscription firewall prevents me from viewing it. I must admit to being a bit fuzzy about how copyright works on blogs, but traditionally it is considered stealing (i.e., plagiarism) if another publication re-posts without attribution, especially for a subscription, and especially when it gets basic facts in the dateline wrong, like the date and city of publication. Note we have a quite noticeable copyright on the site’s footer.

So, is this stealing? The inclusion of “Registan” in the dateline doesn’t change things, as I write under my own copyright. Plus, I would have a hard time believing that this would be acceptable to the AP or Reuters, especially if it was without notice and for commercial use.

I’ve written the owner. We’ll see what his response is.

See Also: Plagiarism.org, on how services like TurnItIn are helping to eliminate plagiarism. I guess it’s funny that this isn’t the first time I’ve been plagiarized: TurnItIn was actually instrumental in one of my professors discovering that their student had ripped me off. What’s the deal?

More info on why this matters is here.

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This post was written by...

– author of 1848 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Joshua Foust is a Fellow at the American Security Project and the author of Afghanistan Journal: Selections from Registan.net. His research focuses primarily on Central and South Asia. Joshua is a correspondent for The Atlantic and a columnist for PBS Need to Know. Joshua appears regularly on the BBC World News, Aljazeera, and international public radio. Joshua's writing has appeared in the Columbia Journalism Review, Foreign Policy’s AfPak Channel, the New York Times, Reuters, and the Christian Science Monitor. Follow him on twitter: @joshuafoust

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Laurence April 20, 2007 at 7:31 am

I guess this is a matter for the WTO intellectual property legal eagles…or your lawyer…In any case, congratuations on having published something worth stealing!

Matt April 20, 2007 at 7:37 am

I can smypathise. I had something ripped off my own blog and reprinted in a Georgian newspaper. They apologised, but it does make you ask questions about a lot of the material you read on the internet. Good luck

Ataman Rakin April 20, 2007 at 7:57 am

The Times of Central Asia has an old habit of cut and paste. I remember that four or five years ago, they had a run-in with Eurasianet if I remember well.

Ben April 20, 2007 at 8:14 am

I can confirm that Ataman, our very own Peter saw his work published at the Times CA twice. Doesn’t it make you feel kind of cool to be the Times’s new Tashkent correspondent?

Joshua Foust April 20, 2007 at 8:14 am

Now all I need is to actually have ever been to Tashkent, ever!

I’m also assuming that, because their offices are in Bishkek, I can’t do anything about it.

cnparker April 20, 2007 at 8:29 am

More strange developments: I received the plagiarized piece in a “weekly” (my first ever) email from the Times of Central Asia editorial office. I have looked on their site before, but never paid for anything. Did I get something for nothing, or nothing for nothing?

Nathan April 20, 2007 at 8:42 am

Muslim Uzbekistan has also lifted stuff from here. But I have much larger problems with subscription services ripping us off.

Copyright is 100% clear, at least under US law, on these things. If no copyright notice is found, protection automatically defaults to all rights reserved. We do have a copyright notice in the footer, though.

Nick April 20, 2007 at 8:49 am

‘I’m also assuming that, because their offices are in Bishkek, I can’t do anything about it.’

Don’t forget Registan‘s Man in Bishkek, Teo! Maybe he could try and ‘collect’ payment on yr behalf in true post-Soviet fashion (ahem!) 😉

Nathan April 20, 2007 at 9:24 am

I’ve already asked him to look into it. Since he does work for them, I hope he’ll be able to sort things out.

Brian April 20, 2007 at 9:34 am

that sounds like blog speak for ‘break some thumbs’

Laurence April 20, 2007 at 10:58 am

Isn’t Kyrgystan a member of WTO?

None April 20, 2007 at 12:43 pm

Comment is off topic.

Bonnie Boyd April 20, 2007 at 5:45 pm

Dear Joshua,
I was so exercised over this I had to wait to write in, but I have some definite comments. Since Times Central Asia lifted the whole text without attribution, and also didn’t attribute the links, any attributions you made through linking, but that weren’t in the text were also scammed off. This means that you didn’t get attributed as author–that’s the primary thing–. Then, Laurence Jarvik and I did get mentioned, because we were in text, but other refs by link didn’t.

Besides the fact that you should be attributed properly, and Registan as well, I think that you should be paid. And furthermore, it really does make me steam that you can’t even read your own writing there without paying.
Keep after this.
BTW, as far as attribution goes, what would be the style? Joshua Foust at Registan, April 17:
or [article title]
by Joshua Foust of The Registan [news agency?]
city, state, April 17: [text]
I hesitate to mention it, but maybe you need a preference or a policy. However, I am not a lawyer and I think I would get a lawyer to even help me with what I decided on attribution policy.
All this is starting to sound very expensive, to fight someone who gets income from the work you do gratis.
Wonder how much has been ripped off from NewEurasia and global voices online. Maybe a consortium of people could force a change.

Keep the faith,

Nathan April 20, 2007 at 6:34 pm

Global Voices has been victim of sites that aggregate and copy all the posts. I think they’ve stopped as a result of cease and desist letters (but I’m not sure exactly what’s happened with that).

We don’t have a policy here for attribution or republication really because, as far as I’m concerned, we don’t need one. The law establishes one. We retain rights to all we have, so any republication should have our permission. I’m not going to be ridiculous about it or anything, but I do ask people who republish without permission to remove the content. I figure that if I had a policy, the only people who would pay attention to it would be those who are already inclined to send a polite email anyway.

By the way, I prefer to have the site referred to as Registan.net.

Joshua Foust April 20, 2007 at 11:01 pm

Exactly what Nathan said. Copyright doesn’t lock you into AP, MLA, or Chicago style sourcing. It just means it needs to be sourced, and that you can’t simply lift pieces for commercial use elsewhere. Simply because we present our writing here for free doesn’t mean or imply that we surrender any rights to it.

But, this paper is in Kyrgyzstan. I don’t know what, if any, action I could take against it, or if it could ever be worth the cost of doing so.

Nathan April 20, 2007 at 11:11 pm

It’s not worth doing much but calling them out on it, which I’m not above doing over and over and over again.

Bonnie Boyd April 20, 2007 at 11:40 pm

Okay, because I changed my blogroll from Registan.net to The Registan, but I will change it back and keep it in mind.
Have a great weekend,

Ataman Rakin April 21, 2007 at 6:22 am

“Copyright doesn’t lock you into AP, MLA, or Chicago style sourcing. It just means it needs to be sourced, and that you can’t simply lift pieces for commercial use elsewhere.”

Indeed. And apart form the juridical-financial aspects of it all, there is thin thing called basic respect/politeness towards authors and photographers.

For my book about Greater CA, for instance, I used a lot of photographs from 19th/early 20th century CA/Caucasus. I invested effort in contacting all collectors and site owners to get their permission even though I should not have bothered since intellectual property from the ex-USSR space issued prior to 1973 has no copyright.

Rip.off April 23, 2007 at 4:42 am

The practice at the Times is to published stolen work.
I would be surprised if they pay for any of the work that is published in the Times.

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