Canadian Report On IP Not Just Deceptive… But Plagiarized

from the oops dept

Once again, we’re seeing a report or person pushing for stronger IP laws that seems to feel that it’s fine if they cut some corners. Michael Geist has the story of a report from The Conference Board of Canada, which describes itself as “the foremost, independent, not-for-profit applied research organization in Canada. Objective and non-partisan. We do not lobby for specific interests.” Except… when the money’s good. It’s latest report, backed by a bunch of copyright lobbyists and the gov’t of Ontatio (taxpayer money!) isn’t just deceptive but appears to plagiarize widely from other already debunked reports, without a hint of skepticism or independent thought. Instead, it appears to have simply cut & pasted certain sections. While plagiarism and copyright are two separate issues, they are related in some ways — and it’s rather stunning that a report complaining about mass piracy in Canada would plagiarize large sections. But, even worse, of course, is the claim that this is from an independent group with no lobbying interests, when the plagiarized sections were written by lobbyists. Whatever credibility The Conference Board of Canada had (and apparently it’s a well-respected organization), it just lost a bunch of it. Meanwhile, The Conference Board insists that it’s standing by the report and only made a minor mistake in how it cited the info used in its report. Of course, that’s not quite true. It didn’t clearly quote the sections it copied, nor did it do any work to confirm whether that information was correct or simply repeated what the lobbyists who hired the company had already written elsewhere.

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Comments on “Canadian Report On IP Not Just Deceptive… But Plagiarized”

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16 Comments
YouAreWrong says:

in legal writing

most of what is lifted is not exactly plagiarism. in legal writing, it is commonplace (and well accepted) to paraphrase something, not use quotation marks, and then use a citation right after. in this form, you’re supposed to use one citation per sentence, and then short cites for the remainder of what you paraphrase. you only use quotation marks if you’re quoting exactly what someone else said.

this paper’s uses are in the grey area, as some statements are paraphrased more than others. had the author who lifted these statements used a full cite followed by a short cite for the second sentence (instead of just one cite), this is not technically plagiarism. i suspect this group got some intern to write the report and s/he just hasn’t learned proper legal citation techniques.

also note that academic plagiarism has a much higher standard than practitioner’s plagiarism, so citing some canadian university’s standard is irrelevant. however, and to Geist’s defense, citation techniques/standards may differ in Canada than in the US. also, I don’t know how much of this paper was made up from these improperly cited statements — I can’t register for their e-library account.

but I do agree that it is pretty nasty when the group claims it’s bias free, only to follow with all the IIPA talking points and its own made up numbers.

Rob R. says:

Re: in legal writing

Although I agree with what you say, I do find it to be completely fascinating that you are offering an expert opinion on legal writing, and you have 4 paragraphs almost devoid of capitalization. You almost have correct usage for proper names, but Canadian is indeed a proper name. Even though “I” not only begins a sentence, it also is referring to yourself and stands in for a proper name. You use it correctly at times, but not another time. Fascinating.

Please do not offer literary critique when you yourself fail the writing test. It is considered bad form.

DWDI says:

Re: Re: in legal writing

Missing the forest for the trees. or full of yourself you pick.
Arinocdcg to rencet rseaerch, the hmuan brian is plrectfey albe to raed colmpex pasasges of txet caiinontng wdors in whcih the lrettes hvae been jmblued, pvioedrd the frsit and lsat leetrts rmeian in teihr crcerot piiotsons.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: in legal writing

Missing the forest for the trees. or full of yourself you pick.

When some pretending to offer an expert opinion on writing demonstrates very poor writing skills themselves, it seems relevant to me. And your vulgar name calling really doesn’t doesn’t do your position any good.

YouAreWrong says:

Re: Re: in legal writing (Rob R.)

modern word processors automatically capitalize sentences for you, but generally not proper nouns. i was just working on something else in a “modern” word processor that does exactly this, and I’m not losing sleep over proofreading or perfecting a blog comment.

ask yourself, is capitalization really that important in a blog comment?

Rob R. says:

Re: Re: Re: in legal writing (Rob R.)

A blog comment that is stressing writing abilities? Yes. I also use “modern” word processors, but I’m not so lazy that I can’t hit a “shift” key. When I make a comment, I don’t do something that shows how little I care about the subject.

Oh well, not that it matters a great deal. I just pointed it out. Hadn’t planned on making a major issue of it, so you all have fun.

Mike (profile) says:

Re: in legal writing

most of what is lifted is not exactly plagiarism. in legal writing, it is commonplace (and well accepted) to paraphrase something, not use quotation marks, and then use a citation right after. in this form, you’re supposed to use one citation per sentence, and then short cites for the remainder of what you paraphrase. you only use quotation marks if you’re quoting exactly what someone else said.

Those aren’t quite paraphrased. Those are taken whole cloth with just a couple words changed. Paraphrasing is putting it into your own words. That wasn’t done. This was a cut and past job that someone went back and edited. That highlights the sloppy level of the research, in that it wasn’t “research” at all, but cut and paste.

YouAreWrong says:

Re: geist's comparison

I read through Geist’s take on it. I was talking about the actual report itself, so I don’t know if they used short cites at all (or even one of the many legal citation formats).

But I still agree with AC10 — the big problem is not so much the bad citations, but the fact that they label themselves as uninterested, but then they make up stats (in a ridiculously non-scientific manner nonetheless) to back the talking point of a trade group. By their logic, because I ate 2 slices of pizza two weeks ago, and 4 slices last week, then I will apparently eat 8 slices this week.

Brad Eleven (profile) says:

Commonplace & Well Accepted

Well, then. I find it commonplace and well accepted among my peers to engage in fair use.

Sure, legal presentations of all kinds–e.g., opinions and reports–rely on precedent, which does indeed account for what is considered as plagiarism elsewhere. This does not address the idea that these “cited” works have been debunked.

After reviewing the report, I find that it depends heavily on statistics. While I agree that these numbers are important to the report, I place more emphasis on the accuracy of the statistics.

Perhaps lawyers really don’t know any better than to simply cite others’ work, as opposed to researching and compiling their own statistics–let alone verifying these statistics.

It would appear that lawyers are not the solution to the problem.

Anonymous Coward says:

Many here a missing the main point. This allegedly ‘independent’ body is supposed to weigh in on issues regarding copyright with a balanced approach to determining the benefits and detriments to current situation. From what I can tell they didn’t do any independent research, validation of method or even offer dissenting opinion. I think the tax payer deserves better then simply parroting a clearly biased industry position paper.

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