Argentinian Politician's Proposal For New Anti-Plagiarism Law Plagiarizes Wikipedia

from the where's-the-anti-irony-law dept

Britxardo alerts us to an amazingly ironic story coming out of Argentina. It seems that an elected politician there, Gerónimo Vargas Aignasse, has introduced some new legislation against plagiarism (Google translation of the original). It seems odd enough that he would be outlawing plagiarism (here in the US plagiarism is socially shunned, and could cost you your job, but isn’t against the law unless it also reaches the point of copyright infringement, which is different), and it’s made even worse by the fact that it looks like he’s confusing plagiarism with copyright infringement — noting in the explanation of the bill that “plagiarism” is harming the recording industry.

But that’s not the ironic part.

As unbelievable as it may seem, it appears that the text Vargas Aignasse used to explain the bill was plagiarized straight from Wikipedia (Google translation of the original). Seriously. And not just a little bit. The first three paragraphs of the Spanish Wikipedia page on plagiarism are identical to three paragraphs in the explanation of the bill.

Just to make sure someone didn’t do the opposite and take the text of the introduction and make it the Wikipedia page, I looked, and as I’m typing this, the Wikipedia page hasn’t been updated since April — and it looks like the bulk of that page has actually been in place for quite some time. The bill was introduced on May 6th.

It’s difficult to think of anything more ironic than introducing a bill that calls for “imprisonment from three to eight years” for plagiarism… that plagiarizes the explanation for that bill. It’s out and out plagiarism too. The three paragraphs look to be copied completely, and no effort is made to identify the source. It’s also a bit weird that the text from Wikipedia — which is basically just a definition of plagiarism — is being used as the explanation of the bill. Nowhere does it describe why it’s a problem or why it requires stringent jailtime. But, perhaps that’s something Vargas Aignasse can ponder while serving three to eight years in prison for violating the law he just introduced… with the law he just introduced.

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Comments on “Argentinian Politician's Proposal For New Anti-Plagiarism Law Plagiarizes Wikipedia”

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46 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Yeah, plagiarists get rewarded for their behaviour:

http://gawker.com/5538623/harvards-most-infamous-plagiarist-is-more-successful-than-you

“Stuck in an awful dead-end job? Try becoming embroiled in a plagiarism scandal! It worked for famous Harvard plagiarist Kaavya Viswanathan. She just got a sweet summer job at one of the most prominent law firms in the country.”

Beta says:

now, now

Yes, it’s ironic, yes, he’s a hypocrite, but no, you can’t put him jail. You can’t punish someone for having violated a law before the law was enacted (unless the Argentinian constitution is really, really messed up), so if the crime involves doing something in the creation of a document, the bill which is to become the law is the one document in the world which the law definitely cannot possibly pertain to.

Osno (profile) says:

It’s really funny that the first line ends with ” dándolas como propias”[.] ” because there’s a reference in wikipedia (obviously omitted in the text of the law). Also, this is a reform of the code to make the sentences longer, so he is probably violating a previous law (although which one is something that is better left to the reader).

BTW, the justification has nothing to do with the amendment to the article. The amendment reads: There will be 3 to 8 years prison to whoever commits fraud by using an assumed name, misrepresents quality, uses fake documents [translation note: specifically college degrees and such], misrepresented influence, abuse of confidence [I really can’t understand what test is valid for this] or feigning to have property, credit, commission, enterprise or negotiation or who uses another sort of trick or misrepresentation.

So this is basically a law penalizing lying (and the college degree is kind of hot here right now because of opposing parties that are found not to have the title they say they have) and not a law about plagiarism.

It’s also funny that this guy actually has a precedent of being suspect of smuggling counterfeit products himself (http://www.derf.com.ar/despachos.asp?cod_des=72815&ID_Seccion=34).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“So this is basically a law penalizing lying …”

If lying was against the law almost every politician should be in jail. I suppose the law doesn’t apply to politicians.

“and not a law about plagiarism. “

The section that was plagiarized from wikipedia was about plagiarism and so at least that part of the law had to do with plagiarism, or else why plagiarize a wiki article about plagiarism.

Anonymous Coward says:

plagiarism IS illegal in several US states

not per se, but in many academic contexts.

I plagiarized this list:

# California Education Code §§ 66400 – 66405
# Colorado § 23-4-101 – 106
# Connecticut § 53-392a – e
# Florida § 877.17
# Illinois ch. 110, § 5/0.01 – 5/1
# Maine 17-A § 705
# Massachusetts ch. 271, § 50
# Nevada 207.320
# New Jersey 18A:2-3
# New York Education Law § 213-b
# North Carolina § 14-118.2
# Pennsylvania title 18, § 7324
# Virginia § 18.2-505
# Washington 28B.10.580 – 584

(probably not a copyright violation: uncreative list of facts, arranged alphabetically)

DocMenach (profile) says:

He didn't write the article

I’m not sure why people keep trying to say thing like “it’s not plagiarism if he wrote it himself”. You can easily check the history of the article to see when and who added those paragraphs. They were written by a user who goes by HPRMedina. His user page states that he is a Computer engineer.

So can we please stop with the “he might have written it” line of comments.

Anonymous Coward says:

I seem to see a pattern...

That is actually very similar to what the French government did recently; they created a new website about the need to respect of copyright on the Internet, and their infringed someone’s copyright by featuring a Creative Commons-licensed photo on their front page without crediting the author.

See http://walkyr.fr/monsieur-cope-viole-lui-aussi-le-droit-dauteur/ for the full story (in French, but with screenshots).

St. George says:

It’s no surprise that a person in here (yeah… I’m argentinian) from the political side, does that.
Imagine that whenever these guys have to discuss an idea or a law that is gonna represent the whole country, they are sleeping (the worst part is that you can see that on TV… creepy).
I guess we are always be more known for the corrupt politicians than for the nice things we have in here…

Eli says:

You are all just arguing too logically! He is a politician – no law that he or others pass applies to him. As ironic and downright stupid as this bill is it typifies what politicians turn into if you give them enough rope. If you break a law in Argentina, you just slip a generous amount of money into the hands of someone and – voila! What law? Who broke it? Whether it’s speeding, getting a passport or getting accepted into a school, someone ALWAYS knows someone that can make it happen. Argentina, Greece and soon – The United States.

By the way, how do I know this? Well . . . I moved here from Buenos Aires. Why? Because of all the rampant corruption! Funny I smell the same kind of corruption coming to this once great nation. 🙁

Yuriy says:

Antiplagiarism (Check on plagiarism) – A free and simple check on plagiarism. The documentation for this program is found online at http://antiplagiarismc.sourceforge.net/

The presence of textual materials in electronic format has made plagiarism easier than ever. Copying and pasting paragraphs or even entire text can now be accomplished with a few mouse clicks.
Plagiarism may be a violation of copyright law and patent law and as such may lead to legal liability. The most commonly plagiarism is expressed in the publication under the name of another product or another’s ideas, as well as fragments of foreign borrowing works without specifying the source of borrowing. Sign of plagiarism is the assignment of authorship, as improper use, publication, copying a work protected by copyright, by itself, is not plagiarism, and other kind of violation of copyright law called “piracy.” “Piracy” is plagiarized misuse of the results of intellectual work and assigning authorship publishing entity.
When a man stands in front of creative task can never be absolutely certain that he will not copy-paste in some place other people’s information, passing it off as his own. Copy-paste is much easier than creative work, so the temptation to cheat is great. This becomes a key issue for business and education.
AntiPlagiarism – software designed to effectively detect and thereby prevent plagiarism. It is a versatile tool to deal with World Wide Web copy-pasting information from the assignment of authorship.

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