Stealing from Conversational Reading

Something called the Ohio Irish American News has stolen large parts of my posting on Anakana Schofield’s novel Malarky.

This is the post that the OIAN stole from. And here is a JPEG of the offending review from their print edition:

As you can see, this is not a case of a few phrases sounding familiar. This is pretty clearly a cut and paste of large portions of my original post.

I imagine the OIAN figured they could scrape my blog and I’d never hear about it. Oops.

I’ve emailed editor John O’Brien, Jr. at jobrien@ianohio.com to see what he makes of all this.

As you can imagine, having published and written my share of literary criticism, and having the utmost respect for the intellectual creativity of the authors I admire, this is not something I take lightly at all. But, on the bright side, to my knowledge this is the first time this has happened in some 8 years of blogging.



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I bet Jim Romenesko would be interested to hear about this, particularly if you find you have a hard time getting a satisfactory response from the publication; he often makes some inquiries himself when stuff like this happens.

I’ve found that a lot of these small time newspapers are pretty free with the plagiarism. They are also repeat offenders usually. For example the author who stole your work also appears to have done the same to Gerard Woodward at the Guardian (compare http://www.ianohio.com/arts/off-the-shelf/932-bullfighting.html and http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/apr/09/bullfighting-roddy-doyle-short-stories-review ) and Audrey Ferber at the San Fransisco Chronicle. ( http://www.ianohio.com/arts/off-the-shelf/905-saints-and-sinners.html and http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/06/04/RVHG1J9U9G.DTL )

an example:

ianohio: “The men in this collection are midway up the social ladder, neither working class nor high achieving professional. What they have in common is a sudden new vantage point from which their past suddenly seems very distant, the future slightly dark, and the present incomprehensible”

Guardian: “Midway through life, they are also midway up the social ladder, neither working-class nor high-achieving professional; average amounts in the bank, average debts, they are on to their second or third wives (the central characters are all male). Their children are at a difficult age.

The other thing they have in common is a sudden new vantage point from which their past suddenly seems very distant, the future slightly dark and the present incomprehensible”

These are just the first two articles I checked. You could probably go through all of his articles, Google the unique sounding turns of phrase and find matches. I imagine it would be possible for an author worried about being plagiarized to reverse the process with their own work. They could set it up as a Google alert that weekly scanned Google for particular phrases that they had written and have a sort of automated system to let them know when someone stole their work. Not sure if it would be worth the trouble though.

Nobody actually knows how to write in Ohio. Reading is a daily struggle there.

Frank: Shh, we’re not all illiterate.

Scott: Let me know if you don’t hear from John, though I suspect he’ll be happy to address the issue.

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