Have you ever been plagiarized? There are all sorts of forms of this rampant Web art: sourcing without proper blockquoting; blatant cut-and-pasting by a mysterious SEO operation; Bollywood borrowing of entertainment copy.
In the case of New York Observer/Betabeat editor-at-large Ryan Holiday, chunks of his 2012 book Trust Me, I’m Lying were co-opted for a 2014 article in Arbitrage magazine. As Holiday relates, he had to jump through some outdated masthead hoops to finally get to Arbitrage publisher David Alexander. However, admirably, Holiday from the get-go indicated to the Toronto-based outlet that he was not looking to get the writer in question fired. Ultimately, that entreaty was ignored at the Canada end, leaving Holiday with very mixed feelings:
The writer is an adult. He has to deal with the consequences of his choices. I get that. I get that I have to as well – I decided to make a complaint, I knew where it might end. But Arbitrage is not some tiny publication. It has numerous writers and a chain of command. They all failed here. Worse yet, they failed when they had an opportunity to respond somberly, fairly and ethically.
The result is that a young writer lost his job. I feel bad about that. I feel worse still that he’s not able to learn from what happened (and dude, if you want to email me, I’m not mad. I’m happy to walk you through the problems with your writing).
A quick check by Arbitrage using something like Copyscape might have quickly alerted them to the staff writer’s duplication. Also, it seems from Holiday’s account that Alexander mucked things up further with a poor choice of email correspondence vocab (“rumors). Read Holiday’s full account here.
[Jacket cover courtesy: Portfolio]