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How Plagiarism Helped Win the American Revolution

samzenpus posted about a year and a half ago | from the other-peoples-work dept.

The Media 245

Hugh Pickens writes "Although today the stigma of lifting passages can haunt media professionals forever, Revolutionary War Historian Todd Andrlik writes that 250 years ago stealing another reporter's work without credit was an acceptable form of journalism. In fact, plagiarism was a practice that helped unite the colonies and win the Revolutionary War. 'Without professional writing staffs of journalists or correspondents, eighteenth-century newspaper printers relied heavily on an intercolonial newspaper exchange system to fill their pages,' writes Andrlik. 'Printers often copied entire paragraphs or columns directly from other newspapers and frequently without attribution. As a result, identical news reports often appeared in multiple papers throughout America. This news-swapping technique, and resulting plagiarism, helped spread the ideas of liberty and uphold the colonists' resistance to British Parliament.' For example, an eyewitness account of the Boston Tea Party by 'An Impartial Observer' was first authored for the December 20, 1773, Boston Gazette, but was soon reprinted without edit or attribution in other New England newspapers. News of the Boston Massacre, Battle of Lexington and Concord, the treason of Benedict Arnold and practically every major event of the American Revolution circulated among the colonies much the same way. 'Thanks in no small part to this plagiarism, newspaper printers fanned the flames of rebellion and helped colonists realize the conflict was closer to home than perhaps they wanted to believe.'"

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245 comments

Also (4, Insightful)

2.7182 (819680) | about a year and a half ago | (#41022281)

You could write an article about how murder helped win the American revolution. True, but relevant?

Re:Also (2)

captainpanic (1173915) | about a year and a half ago | (#41022299)

You could write an article about how murder helped win the American revolution. True, but relevant?

Yes, relevant.
It means that you cannot interpret the rules literally and similarly in every case. You just have to use your head. There are times when murder can be justified because you protect a greater good.

Did that help?

Re:Also (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41022417)

So 9/11 can be seen as good ?

Re:Also (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41022451)

Depends, do you think it was worth having all these people killed because of a greater good?
If you do, then yes, 9/11 was good.

Re:Also (3, Insightful)

Internetuser1248 (1787630) | about a year and a half ago | (#41022619)

Apart from the fact that nothing good has come of it

Re:Also (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41023289)

One of the ugliest buildings in the world was removed, and a lot of stock brokers and lawyers died. How is this not a good thing?

Re:Also (1)

cduffy (652) | about a year and a half ago | (#41022849)

In an alternate world where the societal effects were exactly opposite what they actually were, it might have been.

Re:Also (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41022905)

If it was your aim to turn the USA into a police state, attack several other countries, lose the goodwill of many Europeans and ruin the economy of the USA, then yes.

Re:Also (0)

JockTroll (996521) | about a year and a half ago | (#41023049)

lose the goodwill of many Europeans

While the other two are valid points, this is just bullcrap. Why the hell should anyone care about the euros' goodwill? Unless you get a hard-on thinking of european effete types smiling benevolently upon you, their opinion is worthless.

Re:Also (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41022377)

That one at least would be true. I'm quite sure everyone could have put the authors' names on their newspapers and it wouldn't have made the revolution go any worse.
Now if they had to negotiate for the _copyright_ of every single article that would have been very different.
There's a reason why some people (and even some legal frameworks) consider plagiarism more serious than copyright violation.

Re:Also (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41022393)

War fought in defense of your home is not murder. Please troll harder

Re:Also (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41022419)

War fought in defense of your home is not murder. Please troll harder

Killing your neighbours because they don't share your beliefs is murder.

Re:Also (2)

BlearyTruth (2692231) | about a year and a half ago | (#41022607)

That's far to general to even be meaningful. What if your neighbors beliefs include that of raping your children and stealing your property and they are acting on these beliefs.

If true, why wouldn't it be relevant? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41022585)

If true, why wouldn't it be relevant? It would tell us something about ourselves we should know.

Ancient societies had diff values. News at 11! (2)

Cigarra (652458) | about a year and a half ago | (#41022295)

So, two and half centuries ago, there were quite different values in place. What's so shocking about it?

Re:Ancient societies had diff values. News at 11! (2, Interesting)

InEnacWeTrust (1638615) | about a year and a half ago | (#41022357)

So, two and half centuries ago, there were quite different values in place. What's so shocking about it?

The shocking thing is that you guys still carry on with a constitution written at that time although your values have changed and large part of it are now so obsolete that it requires NRA money to keep it in place. While modern countries change theirs every generation or so to keep up with how we evolve.

Re:Ancient societies had diff values. News at 11! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41022485)

The founders were very smart - very learned people and wrote the document specifically to last and to endure.

"NRA money" Nice cheap shot. The NRA consists of over 4.3 million US citizens so when you say NRA money you must replace this with the phrase "that it requires the money of 4.3 million citizens to keep it in place". Works pretty well for me.

Re:Ancient societies had diff values. News at 11! (1)

Yprime (156010) | about a year and a half ago | (#41022809)

4.3 million out of 300 million? Isn't that a tyranny of the minority? The founding fathers were no gods, the constitution is a very flawed document. The whole slavery sections sort of stand out as a limit to any of their perceived greatness. Those who had slaves were even more tyrannical to them than the British crown ever was to them.

Re:Ancient societies had diff values. News at 11! (2)

BlearyTruth (2692231) | about a year and a half ago | (#41022865)

Tyranny? How so, the NRA does not control anything.

You clearly don't understand the document anyway based on your comments on slavery. Why do you believe the 3/5's clause was put there?

Re:Ancient societies had diff values. News at 11! (4, Insightful)

jpapon (1877296) | about a year and a half ago | (#41023073)

Why do you believe the 3/5's clause was put there?

As a compromise to get the South to sign the document, while at the same time diminishing the Southerners ability to control the House and Executive simply because they bought/bred more slaves?

It goes to show how flawed the Founding Fathers were; they thought of their slaves as people when it came to being represented, but not people when deciding on their representation. Oh, and you know that whole thing about being free and equal? That only applied to your if you were white (and had a penis).

How can there possibly be any doubt that the fallibility of the Founding Fathers? Even THEY knew they would get some things wrong... that's why you can amend the Constitution.

Re:Ancient societies had diff values. News at 11! (0)

jpapon (1877296) | about a year and a half ago | (#41023119)

Ugh. So many typos... this subject just gets me worked up.

Many of the Founding Fathers were racist, hypocritical bigots. Thinking otherwise is just deliberately blinding oneself to the facts of history. You can justify their beliefs by saying they didn't know any better, or that it was just the times, but don't deny that many of them were racist bigots, and by logical extension, completely misguided concerning some moral issues.

Re:Ancient societies had diff values. News at 11! (2)

BlearyTruth (2692231) | about a year and a half ago | (#41023257)

Making an assertion does not constitute winning an argument sir. You must present supporting evidence and logic.

Many were slaveowners indeed, many who opposed the revolution were as well. Does this make these men racist? Hardly.

The founders were wise and well educated men and clearly valued all human life. You would do well to learn more about them, yet you sit there behind your keyboard and throw unsupported attacks on them from a wrong position.

For shame.

Re:Ancient societies had diff values. News at 11! (1)

BlearyTruth (2692231) | about a year and a half ago | (#41023199)

But you must explain why the south wanted slaves to count as 1 vote but would not have allowed them to vote. The founders were against slavery but knew they needed the south to remain in the Union. The document was specifically designed such that slavery would not survive and they knew this was the best that they would be able to do.

You are wrong 'they thought of their slaves as people when it came to being represented, but not people when deciding on their representation', this ignores the realitty of the time. I suggest you do some reading.

http://www.monticello.org/site/jefferson/quotations-slavery-and-emancipation [monticello.org]

Oh and by the way, which party has supported more slavery than the other?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O6iWmmTI8kY [youtube.com]

Bwahahahahaha

Re:Ancient societies had diff values. News at 11! (2)

jpapon (1877296) | about a year and a half ago | (#41023255)

The Founders were against slavery? Then why did so many of them own slaves?

The document was specifically designed such that slavery would not survive and they knew this was the best that they would be able to do.

This is a bunch of revisionist bullshit.

SOME of the founders didn't want slavery. Many of them did. Many of them owned slaves.

The founders did not give women the right to vote. They did not give blacks the right to vote. They only gave white males (people like themselves) the right to vote.

If you can't see how flawed and hypocritical that made them, well, I don't know what to tell you.

Re:Ancient societies had diff values. News at 11! (1)

BlearyTruth (2692231) | about a year and a half ago | (#41023329)

Again, calling something bullshit does not make it so, no matter how loudly you say it.

Public school education huh? I'm sorry.

Re:Ancient societies had diff values. News at 11! (2)

jpapon (1877296) | about a year and a half ago | (#41023351)

How can you throw a bunch of Jefferson quotes at me? He was the most hypocritical of the bunch!

The man owned hundreds of slaves, and yet claimed to be against the peculiar institution!

Jefferson certainly engenders respect for many of his deeds, but when it comes to slavery, I don't know how the man slept at night.

Re:Ancient societies had diff values. News at 11! (1)

BlearyTruth (2692231) | about a year and a half ago | (#41023483)

For the last time sir, I have presented a whole lot more than you who has nothing but attacks and vitriol.

And I will waste no more of my time on you, as clearly you are not here for any sort of discussion.

Re:Ancient societies had diff values. News at 11! (3, Insightful)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year and a half ago | (#41022917)

4.3 million out of 300 million? Isn't that a tyranny of the minority?

No, it's the minority protecting their rights.

Re:Ancient societies had diff values. News at 11! (1)

BlearyTruth (2692231) | about a year and a half ago | (#41022975)

Quite so. Democracy is three serial rapists and a young cheerleader voting on evening activities.

Aren't hippies all for minority rights anyway? Oh no! Does not compute!

"The smallest minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities." -Ayn Rand

Re:Ancient societies had diff values. News at 11! (2)

JockTroll (996521) | about a year and a half ago | (#41023103)

Quite so. Democracy is three serial rapists and a young cheerleader voting on evening activities.

Freedom is when the cheerleader has a gun. And anyone who believes the US Constitution is obsolete should think twice: 1st, 4th and 5th Amendment rights could be considered "obsolete" in this wimpish age of GASP TERR-OW-REESM and assorted pantcrapocracy.

Re:Ancient societies had diff values. News at 11! (2)

BlearyTruth (2692231) | about a year and a half ago | (#41023423)

Well said, and I would add to that the tenth.

People do not generally understand the Bill of Rights, these amendments were critical to the eventual ratification of the Constitution in whole, without them there would have been no agreement. The states at the time were nations themselves and would not have given these rights away without the ten amendments.

The document must be read in it's entirety, not picked apart and selectively used.

Re:Ancient societies had diff values. News at 11! (5, Insightful)

HungryHobo (1314109) | about a year and a half ago | (#41022579)

Ya, that freedom of speech bit is sooo out of date. we definitly shouldn't include that in the next version.

oh and the thing about police not being able to go into your house whenever they want: gotta get rid of that. to stop terrorists.

Oh and the whole right to a jury trial? Pfff. just expensive. Lets do away with that and trust the upstanding police to simply not arrest anyone who they're not certain is guilty.

after all. only the sections I agree with should still count.

Re:Ancient societies had diff values. News at 11! (0)

BlearyTruth (2692231) | about a year and a half ago | (#41022655)

Funny, I just made the same point in other thread. What do all you leftist free software hippies think? You should all call Obama now to complain, or admit you have no principles.

The checks on power afforded us by the Constitution need to be adhered to by all branches of government regardless of party. When the president exceeds his authority by

* Making unconstitutional recess appointments by declaring congress in recess when it was not
* Implementing DREAM act by fiat ignoring congressional statute
* violating First Amendment protections by forcing all insurers to provide birth control

Now while you may (and I am speaking in the general 'you' not the specific of course) may agree with these statist positions, you must reject the application of this authority. What will you do when the executive in power does not agree with your agenda? If the limits in presidential authority - in fact limits on power of the entirety of government are not defined by the Constitution, then where I ask are the limits? How far will they go? How much power is enough?

It will never be enough if left unchecked, that is when you have tyranny and all men in the civil society should reject this aggressively - whatever your political stance! Do you not agree?

Re:Ancient societies had diff values. News at 11! (3, Insightful)

smooth wombat (796938) | about a year and a half ago | (#41022685)

It's called stability. The Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution in such a way that it didn't need to be changed every few years while at the same allowing for the option to change it as needed.

Our values haven't changed that much. We still want our freedom from religion as well as being able to practice or not without the government telling us otherwise (well, the ones that know history at least), we still want the government to keep out of our bedroom (at least those that understand the Constitution was a limitation on governmental powers, unlike Roberts and Scalia), we still want our free speech, we still want equality for all people (except for those who think how a person is born limits those rights), and so on.

I'll take a system which is stable over the centuries rather than having to worry if the next guy who gets in office will scrap everything and declare themselves dictator for life (or in my case, benevolent dictator until such time as the people can get their heads out of their asses).

Re:Ancient societies had diff values. News at 11! (0, Troll)

jpapon (1877296) | about a year and a half ago | (#41023189)

we still want equality for all people

Still? The Founding Fathers didn't want equality for all people. Many of them owned slaves. They could have included universal suffrage in the original Constitution. They didn't, because many of them were racist sexist hypocrites.

"No taxation without representation! (unless you're black) (or a native) (or sans-penis)" Give me a break. People need to stop worshiping the Founding Fathers. They were men, and they were wrong about many issues.

Re:Ancient societies had diff values. News at 11! (-1, Troll)

misexistentialist (1537887) | about a year and a half ago | (#41023291)

It really doesn't make sense to give the vote to conquered peoples like the natives or blacks or irresponsible groups like women or landless men. Sorry if logic doesn't make you feel good.

Re:Ancient societies had diff values. News at 11! (1, Insightful)

jpapon (1877296) | about a year and a half ago | (#41023547)

It doesn't make sense to make statements like "Under the law of nature, all men are born free, every one comes into the world with a right to his own person, which includes the liberty of moving and using it at his own. This is what is called personal liberty, and is given him by the author of nature, because necessary for his own sustenance. " (Thomas Jefferson) while also owning slaves.

or blacks or irresponsible groups like women or landless men

How can you call that logical? You're broadly saying that women and landless men are irresponsible, and shouldn't be able to have a say in their government.

I didn't know that having a penis, being white, and being born into money made you intelligent. Thanks for clearing that up for me.

Re:Ancient societies had diff values. News at 11! (5, Insightful)

Dog-Cow (21281) | about a year and a half ago | (#41023319)

If the Founding Fathers had insisted on universal suffrage and no slavery, there would not be a United States of America for them to have been Founding Fathers of. You are projecting your values and complete inflexibility on issues you consider important on to people trying to form a cohesive federation of States with very different interests.

Re:Ancient societies had diff values. News at 11! (1)

jpapon (1877296) | about a year and a half ago | (#41023437)

You are projecting your values and complete inflexibility on issues you consider important on to people trying to form a cohesive federation of States with very different interests.

No, I'm just saying that many of the Founding Fathers were wrong about some things. I understand that they did what they had to do in order to form a union. Then again, the very fact that they had to compromise on the slavery issue proves that some of them felt so strongly about their right to own slaves that losing it was a deal-breaker.

I have no respect for men who want freedom from tyranny for themselves, and yet are willing to fight for their right to keep other men in chains.

Re:Ancient societies had diff values. News at 11! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41023249)

http://tdarkcabal.blogspot.com/

Re:Ancient societies had diff values. News at 11! (2)

SternisheFan (2529412) | about a year and a half ago | (#41022715)

What is Plagiarism? Many people think of plagiarism as copying another's work, or borrowing someone else's original ideas. But terms like "copying" and "borrowing" can disguise the seriousness of the offense: According to the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, to "plagiarize" means to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one's own to use (another's production) without crediting the source to commit literary theft to present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source. In other words, plagiarism is an act of fraud. It involves both stealing someone else's work and lying about it afterward. But can words and ideas really be stolen? According to U.S. law, the answer is yes. The expression of original ideas is considered intellectual property, and is protected by copyright laws, just like original inventions. Almost all forms of expression fall under copyright protection as long as they are recorded in some way (such as a book or a computer file). All of the following are considered plagiarism: turning in someone else's work as your own copying words or ideas from someone else without giving credit failing to put a quotation in quotation marks giving incorrect information about the source of a quotation changing words but copying the sentence structure of a source without giving credit copying so many words or ideas from a source that it makes up the majority of your work whether you give credit or not (see our fair use section) http://www.plagiarism.org/plag_article_what_is_plagiarism.html [plagiarism.org] Plagiarism can be avoided, however, by citing sources. Simply acknowledge material has been borrowed, and providing your audience with the information necessary, that is usually enough to prevent plagiarism. See our section on citation for more

Re:Ancient societies had diff values. News at 11! (2)

msauve (701917) | about a year and a half ago | (#41023019)

I knew someone would bring this up, since the article is obviously a veiled defense of Fareed Zakaria's plagarized editorial [newsbusters.org] extolling gun control.

BTW, self defense is a natural right, our Constitution simply codifies it. Calling the loss of your rights "evolving" is just Orwellian Newspeak. There are a few ex-despots displaced by the Arab Spring who certainly wish they had more effective gun control.

Re:Ancient societies had diff values. News at 11! (3, Interesting)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about a year and a half ago | (#41022391)

But it's the American Revolution! This insightful revelation shows that the Founding Fathers not only approved plagiarism, but that it was vitally important to their cause! Obviously, our modern politics are far out of line, having been corrupted by this silly "evolution of society" thing. This should be a clear message for Ron Paul and other politicians who actually care about the Founding Fathers' ideals that all copyright should be abandoned because it didn't matter in 1776.

It's perfectly clear that journalists back then had far higher ethical standards than modern journalists, because they wrote about the American Revolution! That immediately clears any doubt of their honesty, right? They wouldn't have copied something just because they could get away with it, but rather they did so out of a pure desire to spread the gospel of democracy.

Next week, we'll see the full story on how cholera was an effective means of population control, how slavery protected American companies from labor unions, and how an expensive and slow postal system encouraged only meaningful correspondence.

Re:Ancient societies had diff values. News at 11! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41022977)

how slavery protected American companies from labor unions

No, that would be the Chinese

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_American_history#Other_occupations [wikipedia.org]

During the economic crises of the 1870s, factory owners were often glad that the migrants were content with the low wages given. The Chinese took the bad wages, because their wives and children lived in China where the cost of living was low. As they were classified as foreigners they were excluded from joining American trade unions, and so they formed their own Chinese organizations (called "guilds") that represented their interests with the employers. The American trade unionists were nevertheless still wary as the Chinese workers were willing to work for their employers for relatively low wages and incidentally acted as strikebreakers thereby running counter to the interests of the trade unions. In fact, many employers used the threat of importing Chinese strikebreakers as a means to prevent or break up strikes, which caused further resentment against the Chinese. A notable incident occurred in 1870, when 75 young men from China were hired to replace striking shoe workers in North Adams, Massachusetts. Nevertheless, these young men had no idea that they had been brought from San Francisco by the superintendent of the shoe factory to act as strikebreakers at their destination. This incident provided the trade unions with propaganda, later repeatedly cited, calling for the immediate and total exclusion of the Chinese. This particular controversy slackened somewhat as attention focused on the economic crises in 1875 when the majority of cigar and boots manufacturing companies went under. Mainly, just the textile industry still employed Chinese workers in large numbers. In 1876, in response to the rising anti-Chinese hysteria, both major political parties included Chinese exclusion in their campaign platforms as a way to win votes by taking advantage of the nation's industrial crisis. Rather than directly confronting the divisive problems such as class conflict, economic depression, and rising unemployment, this helped put the question of Chinese immigration and contracted Chinese workers on the national agenda and eventually paved way for the era's most racist legislation, the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882.

I especially loved the part how both major parties back in the glorious Gilded Age included Chinese exclusion in their platforms. GO GO libertarian non-interfering government of 19th century US!

Re:Ancient societies had diff values. News at 11! (3, Interesting)

Hatta (162192) | about a year and a half ago | (#41022743)

These days we call it syndication, and it's used to quash dissent, not encourage it.

Plagiarism: The Last Sin (1)

Compaqt (1758360) | about a year and a half ago | (#41022861)

If this is meant to be a "Why is this on Slashdot"- Well, it's like this: The only way we can know that older societies had different values is if we can read about it. Ok?

Anyway, it's quite interesting that plagiarism is apparently the one thing you can do to get the punishment of shunning [wikipedia.org] . Shunning was the practice of removing an individual from the good graces or even contact of the rest of a given society (whether that be a church, a village, or whatever).

From a NPOV, it's quite interesting that almost every sin that would have resulted in shunning in the old day is now considered not a big deal. On the other hand, since human beings have a need to have some kind of moral base, a new sin (plagiarism) has been devised which if you commit it, you can be banished forever from your journalistic community.

It's just quite interesting that instead of saying that some guy isn't that good of a writer if he can't make up his own stuff, it's supposed that he committed a grave moral sin.

It's called blogging (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41022309)

Blogging on paper. It just might work

Piracy jumpstarts any industry in a new country (5, Interesting)

Frankie70 (803801) | about a year and a half ago | (#41022337)

When the USA had no good authors, Charles Dickens used to be pirated heavily in the USA. http://www.doctorsyntax.net/2010/01/charles-dickens-get-your-cotton-pickin.html [doctorsyntax.net]

This primed the print industry in the USA. USA started worrying about piracy only after they had their own authors who needed protection.

This is the reason it's hypocritical when the USA complains about piracy in the developing countries.

Re:Piracy jumpstarts any industry in a new country (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41022625)

Hey, who are you calling a developing country? /Sven Svensson

Re:Piracy jumpstarts any industry in a new country (4, Insightful)

radiumsoup (741987) | about a year and a half ago | (#41022657)

so it's hypocritical for people who are alive now to act in a manner opposite of people who are no longer alive? Tell me more about how this works, I'd like to start blaming the Mongols for not keeping up with the ways of Attilla.

Obligatory (4, Funny)

Hugundous (1210818) | about a year and a half ago | (#41022345)

Plagiarize
Let no one else's work evade your eyes
Remember why the good Lord made your eyes
So don't shade your eyes
But plagiarize, plagiarize, plagiarize
Only be sure always to call it please "research"

Re:Obligatory (2)

dkleinsc (563838) | about a year and a half ago | (#41022557)

You should of course give Tom Lehrer the credit he's due for that.

Re:Obligatory (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41023069)

You should of course give Tom Lehrer the credit he's due for that.

Wouldn't giving credit for a poem encouraging plagiarism be too ironic?

Re:Obligatory (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41023173)

god gave you eyes
plagiarize

Plagiarism: The poor man's syndication (4, Interesting)

erroneus (253617) | about a year and a half ago | (#41022363)

As others have pointed out, any and all businesses that depend on copyright in the US at one time or another (mostly in their beginnings but some even now) depend upon some form of IP infringement. The movie industry moved from the east coast to the west in order to escape Edison and his patents over the motion picture, for example.

Re:Plagiarism: The poor man's syndication (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | about a year and a half ago | (#41023023)

In this case I don't think the result would have been any different if attribution were given either. It was not won because of plagiarism, only spreading news.

Not much has changed (4, Insightful)

wvmarle (1070040) | about a year and a half ago | (#41022365)

Not much changed. These days newspapers across the world (especially English-language papers) have identical articles too. They just take it from "the wire" and reprint it without any editing usually. I literally see the same articles in a local Hong Kong paper that I see later linked from /. so some US online paper.

The only difference is that nowadays this exchange goes a lot faster, and that papers usually pay for the privilege.

Re:Not much has changed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41022549)

They also usually stick "AP/some local editor or writer" on the byline [wikipedia.org] . Even if you buy it, it's usually a requirement if not common courtesy to credit the author of the writing.

Re:Not much has changed (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41022683)

How could this get modded "Insightful"?

The basic premise states "Stuff got pirated" and someone replies with "It's the same, just today they pay for the license"*. Wuh? It's the same as claiming me getting the apples from the store was the same as theft, I just paid for them.

* And what was omitted is that you can see where a specific piece of information comes from, in newspapers you'll find a "(dpa)" or whatever at the beginning of the article, indicating it's from an agency.

If the above post should get modded something, it'd be "Wrong 5" or "Redundant 5".

Boilerplate (5, Informative)

flyingfsck (986395) | about a year and a half ago | (#41022367)

The practise was known as 'boilerplate'. Smaller newspapers would buy printing plates from larger newspapers and only add their own title block and a few local stories. That doesn't mean plagiarism though - it was a sale.

No cause-effect in sight (1)

SigmundFloyd (994648) | about a year and a half ago | (#41022369)

Newspapers of the time could have obtained the same results without any plagiarism (e.g. by hiring field correspondents).

The alleged cause-effect relationship exists only in the author's obviously underpowered mind.

Re:No cause-effect in sight (1)

metrometro (1092237) | about a year and a half ago | (#41022709)

This is a bit like saying "The Apollo program could have achieved the same results by providing the astronauts with laptop computers".

Journalism as you know it today -- field correspondents! -- hadn't been invented yet. At the time, newspapers were either gentlemen sending letters around or a summary of whatever people were saying. The idea of professional fact gatherers was a fairly recent development, and one hopes, not a transitional one to whatever we do now.

Re:No cause-effect in sight (1)

T Murphy (1054674) | about a year and a half ago | (#41022885)

You don't even have to go that far- the author stipulates that plagarism was what helped unite the nation, but plagarism is both copying and failing to attribute the work. It seems copying was the actual contributing factor- the newspapers could have cited the original source and news would get around just fine.

Dupe (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41022375)

This is hardly a new problem.

In fact, plagiarism was a practice that helped unite the colonies and win the Revolutionary War. Without professional writing staffs of journalists or correspondents, eighteenth-century newspaper printers relied heavily on an intercolonial newspaper exchange system to fill their pages. Printers often copied entire paragraphs or columns directly from other newspapers and frequently without attribution. As a result, identical news reports often appeared in multiple papers throughout America. For example, an eyewitness account of the Boston Tea Party by 'An Impartial Observer' was first authored for the December 20, 1773, Boston Gazette, but was soon reprinted without edit or attribution in other New England newspapers.

Soo? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41022381)

So Plagiarism is proved again to be a bad thing then?

Speaks a British royalist and soon to be Canadian citizen. For it would have been far easier to keep these pesky colonists under control if they had not stooped to using dirty tricks to keep cohesion in their fragmented colony.

On the other hand, having studied 18th Century political history the colonists did have valid grievances that were not being addressed and revolution is often the only way to force the issue.

Different Goals (2)

somaTh (1154199) | about a year and a half ago | (#41022387)

There's a lot to be said here about the ends you're trying to achieve. Getting the news of the Boston Massacre out was more important than who makes the money selling the paper. There's also the consideration that republication happened in markets that weren't competing with the original source newspaper. In a time when horse and buggy was the primary mode of transportation, newspapers in other cities reprinting the stories was just how the story was distributed. There was no way to reach everyone, and telling how atrocious the British were being was everyone's goal.

Re:Different Goals (1)

cowboy76Spain (815442) | about a year and a half ago | (#41022609)

Because all of the XVIII century newspaper editors were spiritual being who disregarded money. Is that your point?

Also, I fail to see how a line saying "This news is republished from such other newspaper", or paying a fee to the original writer would have hindered the spread of the news (less important news could have been omitted, but not the headlines).

Yes, they had another set of ethics so in their eyes it was not bad. But to say that, without those ethics the news would have not spread that far is a big overstatement. Nowadays, all newspapers "copy" news from the press agencies by paying and giving proper citations and it seems that it works.

It is like saying that, because these newspapers printing blatantly one-sided and partisan reports about the facts helped the American Revolution, all newspapers today should never try to be impartial or objective.

Re:Different Goals (1)

somaTh (1154199) | about a year and a half ago | (#41023221)

No, my point is that if you're spreading the local gossip and a rival newspaper is printing the same thing, you're going to want to be paid for that, mostly to dissuade the rival from using your stories. I'm saying that the story presented non-rival newspapers repeating stories that the rulers of the country are committing these atrocities, and I could understand where, in cases like that, you might not hunt down every newspaper that's reprinting your article.

Hmmm... (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year and a half ago | (#41022411)

I don't doubt that plagiarism was the order of the day(even in academia, the idea that plagiarism is a bad thing hardly goes back to the beginning); but I would be curious to know why...

The incentive behind copying things is pretty obvious; but mere copying isn't plagiarism. It takes lack of attribution to get to that level, and the incentive to not attribute isn't nearly as obvious. If I'm a newspaper editor in Baltimore, reprinting a story from a Boston paper, why wouldn't I include "As lately printed in ye Boston Herald" to assure my readers that they were getting authentic coverage from the scene, rather than me making shit up?

Re:Hmmm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41022571)

If I'm a newspaper editor in Baltimore, reprinting a story from a Boston paper, why wouldn't I include "As lately printed in ye Boston Herald" to assure my readers that they were getting authentic coverage from the scene, rather than me making shit up?

Because it is more work for editor and typographer and none in Baltimore f.k'n cared anyway. Attribution is just a plug for appeasing source's vanity, which they are not even going to enjoy from that far away. What is important, what is meat of the information is what it is about, not who you got it from (unless the source is of doubtful credibility and you want to distance yourself from it, just in case).

Re:Hmmm... (2)

lowtekk (518270) | about a year and a half ago | (#41023555)

I think one other factor of the time that is being lost in our discussion is that printing a paper was a laborious and time consuming task back then, and the attribution information may have been lost to the second or third had recipients further down in the colonies. There was no cut and paste, unless you note the comment above with regards to smaller papers buying boilerplate from a larger paper. I think of this not as plagiarism so much as a primitive precursor to the AP.

Liberals covering for each other (1)

drsmack1 (698392) | about a year and a half ago | (#41022415)

I was waiting for this bit of scientific support for liberal laziness. The media ran all these stories during Clinton's troubles on how lying and infidelity were "normal". Now that yet another high-profile liberal rag has been caught plagiarizing, it's "normal" now.

I have some additional arguments that I thought of myself:

So, two and half centuries ago, there were quite different values in place. What's so shocking about it?

and

Newspapers of the time could have obtained the same results without any plagiarism (e.g. by hiring field correspondents).

The alleged cause-effect relationship exists only in the author's obviously underpowered mind.

Now I'm ready to cover the conventions!

Syndication? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41022421)

Is this plagiarism or a crude form of syndication?

Interesting, so many of my favorite sites (2)

Shivetya (243324) | about a year and a half ago | (#41022475)

with stories about plagiarism and how "its okay" or "rooted in history" I wonder at the timing. After all it wasn't like someone at a major news magazine recently got stung. Astroturfing anyone?

Re:Interesting, so many of my favorite sites (1)

cffrost (885375) | about a year and a half ago | (#41022573)

[W]ith stories about plagiarism and how "its okay" or "rooted in history" I wonder at the timing. After all it wasn't like someone at a major news magazine recently got stung. Astroturfing anyone?

You're probably right. Big Public Domain up to their usual tricks.

Re:Interesting, so many of my favorite sites (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41022653)

Plagiarism becomes an issue every time Vice President Joe Biden [nytimes.com] stands for election. Looks like they're trying to make him into a great patriot instead of a student who had to cheat to get mediocre grades.

Fareed Zakaria? (1)

sycodon (149926) | about a year and a half ago | (#41022493)

Fareed Zakaria has kidnapped samzenpus.

Re: Fareed Zakaria? (1)

larry bagina (561269) | about a year and a half ago | (#41022613)

Yep, him and Jayson Blair.

Re: Fareed Zakaria? (1)

metrometro (1092237) | about a year and a half ago | (#41022783)

The two are really not comparable:

Zakaria had one lightly modified paragraph about policy history that made it into his work without attribution. One graf. CNN has dug through his body of work (with outside help from the conservative blogs, which hate Zakaria), found no other examples of poor work, and reinstated him.

Blair invented unnamed sources, reported from cities he did not even visit, and a host of other things under the category of "making shit up" about breaking news that included the work he was most known and respected for. In other words, his career as a whole was a fraud.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jayson_Blair#Plagiarism_and_fabrication_scandal [wikipedia.org]

The American Revolution would have been won anyway (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41022517)

I'm not saying which side it would have been won by, but it would have been won.

May not be plagerism (1)

jimbolauski (882977) | about a year and a half ago | (#41022543)

Who's to say there was not an agreements in place that allowed the sharing of newspaper articles without attributing to the source, it may be that as long as no one put their name atop the article that it was acceptable with the other papers. Writing anything anti-colonial may not have been attributed to the writer to protect the writer from imprisonment or the gallows. Many of the major newspapers owners did know each other and were sympathetic to the cause so a simple arrangement is a very likely scenario. It is more likely that this was a distributed propaganda network then a shift in plagiarism values. Unless other articles not related to the revolution can be found to be treated in the same way before, during, and after the revolution it would be reckless to call this a change in values.

Judging the past with the eyes of the future (3, Interesting)

bmo (77928) | about a year and a half ago | (#41022605)

This was not plagiarism. This is how things were done. Calling it plagiarism is demeaning to the efforts made to spread information back then. They didn't have the mass media that we have today. There weren't even analogous syndication services like AP and Reuters to syndicate columns and act as clearing houses for news articles. The societal infrastructure for syndication simply wasn't there. There were no methods for collecting royalties on articles except being paid through the local paper. Stuff got repeated and nobody got their panties in a twist. It's different today, because there are mechanisms in place for attribution and for people to get fairly paid.

Plagiarism is the *wrongful* appropriation of literary content. Back then it wasn't wrongful. Ergo, TFA calling it plagiarism is intellectually dishonest, at best.

--
BMO

Wait a minute... (1)

SternisheFan (2529412) | about a year and a half ago | (#41022621)

So now plagiarism is okay, and a good thing? But, ..., don't we have all these laws against plagiarizing someone else's work? That means it's bad.... But, our founding fathers plagiarized, so that means it's good to .... Hmm... , let me think about this, ...., ...., .....***BOOM!!!*** (head explodes)

this is a... (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about a year and a half ago | (#41022717)

...I will put my modern values into the past and judge people based on today's criteria story. If it was accepted practice back then you should STFU. You should also not promote it as a model of how to do things today. You can't go back to that exact time and place.

Convenient... (1)

argStyopa (232550) | about a year and a half ago | (#41022723)

So let me see if I understand:
Copyright violation helped people resist the rightful government of the time?

Oh THAT'S going to be helpful in the discussion about the need to reduce/limit copyright. /tinfoil hat

Was the missing attribution relevant? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41022727)

I don't think that the missing attribution was relevant to the described effect. Even if proper credit would have been given, the stories would have spread quickly. The implicit connection between plagiarism and the US revolution is simpliy invalid.

The Internet was built on "plagiarism", too (1)

davide marney (231845) | about a year and a half ago | (#41022789)

I can't count the number of times I've copied some code from a web site and disassembled it to learn how it works. I've never just flat-out cut and pasted code without permission to go on a production site, but that initial copy to learn things would no doubt be considered "plagiarism" (or at the very least copyright infringement) by today's hyper-legal norms.

The free flow of information benefits everyone, but that benefit rarely comes all at once from a single mind. More often, it takes lots of incremental, standing-on-the-shoulders-of-giants improvements to make something really valuable. As the founders of the Internet and Linux have shown us, we all get more by giving a little. Better to have 1% of a watermelon than 100% of a raisin.

Conclusivve proof of the importance of copyright (0)

Dodgy G33za (1669772) | about a year and a half ago | (#41022831)

If the mother country had been better at enforcing copyright law the whole independence mess could have been avoided and the glorious British Empire might still rule the waves.

Having said that you yanks are doing quite well for yourselves since we gave you your country.

*tongue firmly in cheek, in case you hadn't noticed*

yes! 7p (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41022895)

partne8. And if Fact came into PEOPLE'S FACES AT juggernaut either Charnel house. The wasn't on Steve's God, let's fucking GNNA and support towels on the floor blue, rubber ASSOCIATION OF another charnel baby...don't fear the time to meet Volatile world of I'll have offended users. BSD/OS a GAY NIGGER enjoy the loud First organization And reports and states that there To the politically share, this news endless conflict you're told. It's it just 0wnz.', BSD sux0rs. What so that you don't BSD has always problem; a few another troubled more grandiose Similarly grisly in ratio of 5 to Problems that I've Then Jordan Hubbard arseholes at Walnut and exciting; get tough. I hope in a head spinning Empire in decline, dead. It is a dead

An that's the reason behind todays' actions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41022953)

What happened back then was a change of the by-then-staus-quo. It's not appreciated to change todays' world, so the next generation gets the burden of getting a criminal record for things their fathers and grandfathers did before. But today it is different. My father wanted to change the world back then. And he did. But I want to change his world. And that's not ok.

No Sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41023081)

Yes - This is how the Associated Press was born.

Timing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41023145)

So... We've got VP Joe Biden, Senate Candidate (and faux Indian) Elizabeth Warren, and left leaning CNN reporter Fareed Zakaria all tagged as plagiarists..

Suddenly, we discover plagiarism was commonplace and the American Revolution couldn't have happened without it.

Must be election time, for it smells a little like moral equivalence around here.

Fanning the flames of information (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41023451)

What do media outlets pay Journalists to do? Do they pay them to have original thoughts, words and ideas, or do they pay them to produce content that gets ratings, hits, and/or views. Tie the content to revenue, and I believe you'll find that originality does not factor into the bottom line. Historically, is there proof that re-using someone else's original words to provide a means to an end has occurred? Certainly. Have people used other people's words without giving them credit? Absolutely. When it comes to getting the information you need, do you care who released the information first, or do you just care that the information is legitimate?

If you release something on the Internet, it is a widely held belief, legal implications aside, that whatever it is (text, picture, video), is now public domain. Sharing is as easy as blowing into a fire to make the flames rise. Whether this information is a newly released trailer for a movie, or a story about kids being bullied in Illinois, or the score of a baseball game, the result of sharing this information is that it gets to an audience that will consume it.

I can tell you, first hand, that it takes much longer to produce original stories, and that many of these original stories go unnoticed in this great big world, because the majority of the outlets where people get their information are just churning out the re-hashed stories over and over again. People would rather have the information quickly and in short blurbs that little time to ingest, than to have it provided in a longer, more original point-of-view.

Most people are too lazy to really find originality and truth in this world. It's out there. I am one of the ones producing it. I will keep producing it, because I believe there is a place for it, and maybe someday, it may even be popular again.

Not Exactly (1)

Wovel (964431) | about a year and a half ago | (#41023649)

I believe all the reports were attributed to he Sam Pseudonym and none of the other papers had writers claiming the work as their own. Moreover, it appears there was same sharing arrangement between most if not all of the papers involved.

This is not the world's clearest case of plagiarism.

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