Thursday, June 17, 2010

What to do?

What do I do when I find an extensive, insufficiently credited passage of my Overview of Late Antiquity, available freely on the web since 1996, has been incorporated verbatim into someone else's printed book?

15 comments:

  1. There are remedies under the law.
    You DID state at the beginning that you retained copyright.

    Is the perpetrator a friend of yours? That would complicate matters.

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  2. Publish the name of the Book.

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  3. Start with a polite but stern e-mail to the publishers, I guess? Though what you ask for—an amended printing, a cut of the royalties?—I don't really know...

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  4. Oh wow. I don't know what I'd do. I'm interested in hearing what others say.

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  5. Publish the name of the book and author, and ask for an explanation, here, on the Medieval list, and any other list you are on. Also write to the publishers and the author, say what action you have taken, and ask what they plan to do about it. Make clear to your students what has happened and why it is wrong.

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  6. Consult a copyright attorney. Anyone with enough standing in the field to get a book published knows exactly what they've done. They deserve more than a smack on the nose with a rolled-up newspaper.

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  7. I agree with Jonathan, above. Start with the publisher, work outward.

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  8. Take legal action. I for one would like to know the name of the publisher and of the book. The former so I can know who to include in my ritual curses, and the latter so I know to steer my students away from same. I'll send them to the authoritative source instead!

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  9. You are going to need a lawyer if you want to force the publisher or the author to do anything. Lawyers are expensive. You have to decide how much you want to spend on lawyers to obtain satisfaction from these turkeys. Lawsuits leave long lasting bad feelings. Your future relationship[s] with the parties will become very sticky after you sue them.

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  10. You must start with the publisher and make sure you have a copyright attorney write that letter. It is possible to obtain part of the royalties but they will certainly have to pull remaining copies from retailers.

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  11. I think what others have said works -- contact the publisher, then if there is no remedy, an attorney. And let it be known.

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  12. I agree with the "name and shame" policy. This is how self-policing should work.

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  13. Is the person on faculty at an academic institution? Contact their department chair with a plagiarism notification. That would be "in addition" to the publisher contact. Someone who plagiarizes in a book publication has probably been doing this kind of thing even more extensively in other writing, and must be stopped, because they are demonstrably not self-curing. Think of the damage they will continue to do, to themselves and to others who might cite the work in the future.

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  14. Wow. That's remarkable considering it's a revered and well-known online source (to which I've steered my students, many a time!). I agree that starting with the name and shame from which we can proceed to Amazon reviews and contacting the publisher.

    I would also suspect that if a section of your book's been plagiarized, that's only one part of the story of what went into the probable Frankentext!

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  15. Faye Getz10:19 am

    Steve, a voice from your past! Start with contacting the writer directly with your evidence and ask them for an explanation. If you're not satisfied (and you won't be), then point out that they are guilty of theft of intellectual property and ask them to suggest a remedy. If you still aren't satisfied, then you can go to the publisher. If all you want is due credit, you will probably be able to get that without paying a lawyer.It's been my experience that such writers are clueless about copyright and the web has only made it worse.

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