girlyswot: (no good reason)
In the Washington Post article about the Cassie Edwards affair, they make mention of an incident a few years ago when one romance novelist, Janet Dailey, admitted she had plagiarised a fellow romance writer, Nora Roberts.

In 1997, romance novelist Janet Dailey acknowledged taking material from Roberts, saying that "my essentially random and non-pervasive acts of copying are attributable to a psychological problem that I never even suspected I had."

Which psychological problem is that, Ms. Dailey? Kleptomania?

You would think that once a problem of obsessive, unconscious plagiarism had been diagnosed, the sufferer would be best advised to pursue a career other than writing. Not Ms. Dailey. Let's hope her editors know how to check her work for originality before it's published in future.
girlyswot: (Default)
both have articles about the Cassie Edwards issue today. The NYT article is more up to date and informative. It's good to see that this is being taken seriously.

A response

Jan. 11th, 2008 04:42 pm
girlyswot: (Ros writes)
Not to my letter, but you can see the latest from Signet here. They do at least seem to have realised that the matter demands a proper review rather than a summary dismissal.
girlyswot: (Ros writes)
I seem to have become something of a campaigner in the last 24 hours. It's a while since I've sent a complaint letter (though I'm sure Tony Blair has a file with my name on it somewhere). Anyway, I've just mailed this to David Shanks (CEO, Penguin Putnam), Susan Peterson Kennedy (President, Penguin Putnam) and Claire Zion (Editor in Chief, Signet Publishing).

Dear Mr Shanks,

I am writing concerning the recent allegations surrounding several of the books published by Penguin, under its Signet wing, by Cassie Edwards. I am certain that by now you will be not only aware of this case but will also have taken the time to acquaint yourself with the details of the plagiarised passages.

More )
girlyswot: (Default)
This is what Signet, Cassie Edwards' other publishing company, had to say about the matter:

Signet takes plagiarism seriously, and would act swiftly were there justification for such allegations against one of its authors. But in this case Ms. Edwards has done nothing wrong.

The copyright fair-use doctrine permits reasonable borrowing and paraphrasing of another author’s words, especially for the purpose of creating something new and original. Also, anyone may use facts, ideas and theories developed by another author, as well as any material in the public domain. Ms. Edwards’s researched historical novels are precisely the kinds of original, creative works that this copyright policy promotes.

Although it may be common in academic circles to meticulously footnote every source and provide citations or bibliographies, even though not required by copyright law, such a practice is virtually unheard of for a popular novel aimed at the consumer market.

[emphasis mine]

I'd say that the people at Signet need to take a long, hard look at themselves.  Ms. Edwards has rarely needed to 'paraphrase another author's words', so common has been her tendency to 'borrow' them (though I don't think she plans to give them back, so in my book, that's stealing.)

It may be the case that Ms. Edwards has done nothing illegal.  Would anyone like to explain the difference between 'wrong' and 'illegal'?  Not that hard, is it?

No one is suggesting that Ms. Edwards footnote her sources, nor even give a full bibliography.  But at the very least, there ought to be an acknowledgment of the sources she's copying.  And an attempt to use the information in her own style, not copy the text verbatim.

You might also enjoy this little excerpt 'inspired by Cassie Edwards' which shows just how effective 'research' can be in overcoming writers block.

Penguin have so far not addressed the issue at all.
girlyswot: (Default)
In the last couple of days, a story has emerged concerning a series of books published by Penguin, authored by Cassie Edwards. Ms. Edwards is a successful romance novelist with sales of over 10,000,000 books featuring Native American romance.It has come to light that many passages in Ms. Edwards’ books have been copied verbatim from a number of old reference books. The evidence is overwhelming and can be found here:

Cassie Edwards Extravaganza
Cassie Edwards Extravaganza 2
We Report, You Decide
Another report
But wait, there's more

The evidence so far gathered suggests that Ms. Edwards has restricted herself to plagiarising books that are in the public domain and so it seems unlikely that any legal action can be taken.

Nonetheless there are some serious ethical and literary concerns regarding her actions, and the negligence on the part of her editors. You will see from the examples above that the prose quality of the quoted sections is easily distinguished from Ms. Edwards’ own style, yet apparently no editor ever questioned this, nor thought to run the simple Google check that uncovered the plagiarism. Nor should the publishers be content to defraud the public in this manner, passing off books as the work of one author, when in fact large sections of text were written by someone else. This is a serious matter, and that it concerns one of the most well-known and well-regarded publishing houses in the industry makes it even more alarming. How widespread is this practice, and how much are editors expected to condone this intellectual theft?

I have never read one of Ms. Edwards' books, nor do the cited extracts give me any wish to do so. But this story makes me cross for a number of reasons:

  1. Because there is no likelihood of legal action, it seems the ethical issues have been ignored. Just because there is no copyright theft does not mean there has been no plagiarism.

  2. Because Ms. Edwards is writing in a particular genre, it seems that rights of her readers to expect original (and good quality) prose are ignored.

  3. Even if Ms. Edwards had been unaware that her plagiarism is a problem, her editors should not have been. A 5 minute Google was all it took to uncover the problem. They are without excuse.


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