4 Recent Cases of Plagiarism Charges in the Headlines

By Monitor, Sara Afzal; | The Christian Science Monitor, December 8, 2010 | Go to article overview

4 Recent Cases of Plagiarism Charges in the Headlines


Monitor, Sara Afzal;, The Christian Science Monitor


Plagiarism charges regularly plague the book world, often resulting in tarnished reputations. For those accused, the allegations are humiliating, while the writers plagiarized often feel themselves to be the victims of a theft for which they are never fully compensated. In recent cases, plagiarism charges have swirled around a variety of different kinds of publications: an award-wining French novel, a 2006 congressional report, the memoir of former President George W. Bush, and the "Harry Potter" series.

Plagiarism charges regularly plague the book world, often resulting in tarnished reputations. For those accused, the allegations are humiliating, while the writers plagiarized often feel themselves to be the victims of a theft for which they are never fully compensated. In recent cases, plagiarism charges have swirled around a variety of different kinds of publications: an award-wining French novel, a 2006 congressional report, the memoir of former President George W. Bush, and the "Harry Potter" series.

#4 Michel Houellebecq and "La carte and le territoire"

For French author Michel Houellebecq, plagiarism charges and a major book award arrived in close proximity. Last month, the bestselling author was awarded the Prix Goncourt, France's top literary prize, for his novel "La carte et le territoire" ("The Map and the Territory"), a satire of the Paris art world. Shortly before the award was announced, however, Slate magazine had accused Houellebecq of plagiarizing some passages of this book from the French Wikipedia. Houellebecq admitted to taking the passages, word for word, from Wikipedia, but denied that this was plagiarism.

The author says borrowing and reshaping define his writing style. "If these people really think that [this is plagiarism], they haven't got the first notion of what literature is," he said. "This approach, muddling real documents and fiction, has been used by many authors."

#3 A 2006 congressional report on global warning

Raymond S. Bradley, a climatologist at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, claims that statistician Edward Wegman of George Mason University plagiarized from his textbook in a 2006 congressional report that undermined warnings of global warming. A committee investigating the allegations at George Mason University has yet to comment, and Mr. Wegman denies the plagiarism charges that were first reported by Deepclimate.org.

"I'm not an expert on plagiarism, but it's pretty clear that the text was lifted almost word for word out of my book," said Mr. …

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