Monday, July 20, 2009

Plagiarim: a National Pastime?

Photo by Esther_GBad writing is one thing, straight off plagiarism is another. I'm really tired of seeing this happen over and over, especially in India. And just because you give the person credit as a name doesn't mean you have the permission of that person to post it. You need EXPLICIT PERMISSION or some sort of an agreed license like the ones from Creative Commons.

Here's a bad case of copy-pasting that I came across recently:

On July 17th, a twitter by the name of @ruplal sent me a message a brand new site to take a look. The site was: I think I had been tweeting about my concerns of riots in Kolkata and how work would be interrupted that day. A lot to my friends are in Kolkata, a portion of that friend circle is in tech. I checked the site, which happened to be a blog that doesn't seem to be proof read. Indian English is fine, and typical, but then I saw a familiar name: Angsuman Chakraborty -- an acquaintance who runs a company in Kolkata. We've met a couple of times at BarCamp and other tech network/unconferences. I thought, well, it's about time someone starts writing about the Kolkata tech scene since it badly needs to start moving and growing.

I thought Angsuman was starting a new blog, but it was very unlike him since his core audience is not really Kolkata. He wouldn't limit himself for just Kolkata. (It's not economically viable.) I checked the other posts and it seems the blogger(s) has been "borrowing" content from other folks. I thought, maybe it's a syndicated blog of some kind. I sent @ruplal a message, checked profiles on LinkedIn of the co-founders of the site. And checked back with @augsuman on Twitter. I asked him whether it was a new site he was putting up or just random copy-pasting. I really didn't think it was. Angsuman replied this morning that it actually was a copy-pasting job using his name on a post about Google Chrome.

I wasn't surprised but I was a bit disconcerted -- 'pissed off' might be the term. Copy-pasting happens ALL THE TIME in India. I've seen a very unethical boss do it, colleagues do it, I see it on blogs again and again. There are instances where I've refused candidates to join my team after evidence of plagiarism in their sample writing. It's a sin that has no redemption. It gives India a bad name. It gives writers in India an even worse name. Plagiarism might not get you in court in India, but you're still breaking international law. If morals and ethics don't appeal to you, as a blogger you should know that Google will penalize the blog for duplicate content -- it will hurt you in the end. If you don't have the time, resources, or talent don't bother running a site.

Have you seen cases of copy-pasting and plagiarism? Do you confront it or just ignore it because it's so common?

Photo by: Esther_G

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