Sunday, August 10, 2014

What do Reagan, True Detective, and Ashton Kutcher have in common? Plagiarism controversies.


The eternal debate over prose authorship and proper attribution is all over the news:
  • Author Rick Perlstein has been sued for alleged plagiarization in his new Reagan bio.
(He heavily-referenced my Ventra article in The Nation last December to the point where I'm not sure he could/would have written that particular post without my prior compilation of most of the examples he used)
  • Montana Senator John Walsh has dropped out of his election race for plagiarizing his Army War College masters degree final paper.
  • Students using the Roget's Thesaurus app to change synonyms in plagiarized papers yield amusing results like "sinister buttocks" in place of "left behind".
  • True Detective creator Nic Pizzolatto has denied allegations that he stole lines of the show's iconic dialogue from author Thomas Ligotti.
  • Buzzfeed defended (then fired) political editor Benny Johnson after 41 documented instances of plagiarism.
  • Ashton Kutcher's viral content website, A+, in turn, has been caught plagiarizing content from Buzzfeed and Huffington Post, among others.
(fittingly, Huffington Post once lifted part of one of my articles)
Look, content creation is at a salary race-to-the-bottom and sparking uncomfortable questions of what it ought to be worth.

Which is why any and every allegation of stealing from other writers is worth a listen.

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