India Uncut

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Friday, November 18, 2005

Imitation is not the best form of flattery

Not when it's plagiarism.

My friend and colleague, Dileep Premachandran, wrote a nice piece on Yuvraj Singh after India's first ODI against South Africa on November 16. It came on Cricinfo that evening. Somebody in DNA read it. And copied it. Click here for details.

I am not going to judge DNA on what has happened, though, but on what they do about it. They have been informed. They can't scrutinise every single piece that goes up, and there's always a chance that a lazy and unscrupulous employee will do something of this sort. But they can punish him for it, and they can make sure that punishment stands as a deterrent for future would-be plagiarisers. Let us see what they do.

Cricinfo has often faced this kind of plagiarism. For some reason, people using the net for research often assume that everything on the internet can be used by anybody. Well, that's rubbish. Everything you read on the internet is copyrighted by default, though the author of the content can give it away if he so desires by specifically stating as much. But MSM outlets in India don't seem to care about matters such as intellectual theft.

The news programs of some TV channels often just read out from our reports, verbatim, and even some of our analysis. A popular book released in India last year cannibalised the content of the popular series on Cricinfo, All Today's Yesterdays. A few months ago a cricket magazine based in Delhi copy-pasted its entire editorial from a piece Dileep had written on Cricinfo. A quickie book written by a Delhi journalist, then in the Pioneer and now in the Times of India, after India's tour of Pakistan had large chunks lifted from articles Cricinfo writers had written in Pakistan. (Hell, why just us, Indian newspapers have even copied from Roger Ebert!) In many of these cases, the publishers and editors were informed of this theft. The response: apathy.

And that is why it is time to up the ante.

Update: I just remembered that DNA has been down this road before. Hmmm.

Update 2: Here's a match report on Cricinfo by Jenny Thompson. And here's the same report, filched, on the Bangladesh Observer (scroll down after clicking the link). Those people seem to think that putting "internet" in brackets in the dateline justifies the theft. I am told they do this regularly.

(BO link via colleague Sreeram Veera.)
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