Alarm Bells, Escaped enough

News credit: Dawn, Gulf News
Found this few days back, lost it, but credit to D0ctor for a reminder.

The issue itself may not be new but looks like there needs to be little cleansing & we all need to decide the principles on which we will constitute our professional methodology. It has become a common phenomenon to ignore issue related to plagiarism. Our educational institutes have become a heaven for this phenomenon lately. And the interesting part is, it isn’t being considered as such, at first place. You can escape locally but enough now, looks like the Alarm bells have been rung. So the story goes like this:

Gulf News has criticized as “dishonest” the repeated infringement of its copyright by a Pakistani newspaper that is reproducing articles without permission

The paper threatened for a legal action if violation continues:
Gulf News says it wrote to the Pakistani daily in November last year and then in February this year to stop using their material ‘without permission and often without acknowledgment’. They decided to go public after they received no response

So is there any other side of story too or The News is mum about this. Also, what’s your assessment on this statement which is interesting & important:
“There seems to be a culture in the region that says that because material is on the internet, it’s in the public domain and therefore doesn’t have to be paid for. “

Are they accusing us, the whole South Asian region?. We strongly suggest THE NEWS put Gulf News to task, if they are trying to either act smartly (copying THE NEWS material but shouting first) or have any other motive because as we all know THE NEWS is one of the most respected and widely read papers.

A related question for expert opinion: Suppose if a source (A) copy’s material from another source (B) without crediting it. And a third source (C) without knowing its a copy, copies but with a credit this time to B (not A the original source) what legal action B can take against C in this case?

1. Full Story
2. Related DAWN story

41 Comments so far

  1. SAM (unregistered) on March 7th, 2007 @ 5:30 pm

    Almost all of the graduates over here must have gone through those university blues in some point of our life. Remember one of those times when you had an assignment deadline right round the corner and you had it all planned out on how to complete it. But somehow the corner just gets to you a little too early and you are left with nothing but to just open up the best search engine on the internet and type in those keywords that encapsulate your whole assignment and there you have it, an end to the students rigorous dilemma of the submission of that assignment. But wait , what did the student actually do over here.. lets run a recap:

    1) Fired up the best search engine.
    2) Typed in the keywords.
    3) Did a little scrolling.
    4) Right Click > Copy > Paste.

    Is this what our prestigous universities are driving us towards. Killing our sense of ingenuity and self producing our own views and working that extra mile just to get an “original” assignment done. The ultimate irony to all this is that even our worthy professors and instructors back this practice and encourage us to follow the yellow brick road to glory, by so called using the “Copy > Pasting” convention. Is this the answer to all our cry’s , to all our problems, to all our final year projects and assignments ?..

    Shifting the view to another angle, it has not been long since this practice has been adopted over by the media too. As MB has specifically mentioned in his post, Gulf News , a very respected newspaper of the UAE has stood victim to such practice. What can be done to stop all this. pointing fingers in all directions is not the answer to this mayhem. “Ripping” off articles written by Staff members at Gulf News and then using them in their very own newspapers. I mean where’s the dignity in that. Atleast have the consideration to reply back and justify for what you have done. I would like to ask each and every newspaper to step forward and clearly justify themselves to Gulf News or have the courage to judged.

  2. Omar R. Quraishi (unregistered) on March 7th, 2007 @ 5:32 pm

    Yes MB — talking about journalistic principles, another cardinal one is to give both sides of the story — and there is probably a reason that Dawn carried this article (which was in bad taste — the article as well as the decision to carry it)

    However, The News never plagiarised from any GN or any other article — also any GN article that was published was always attributed to its original source of publication — to that extent the GN story is incorrect

  3. Omar R. Quraishi (unregistered) on March 7th, 2007 @ 5:37 pm

    GN is respected??? HAHAHAHA

    obviously none of you has ever worked for any Gulf based newspaper or you would know a bit about their editorial ‘policies’ and the censorship they are subjected to (which explains their servility to their local govts) before you made such comments —

    sam — plagiarism is a problem in any case and btw not limited to South Asia or Pakistan alone — it has no relevance really to the GN story because contrary to what the GN is claiming, no material from GN has been plagiarised and passed off by The News as its own

    As for our own professors backing this up, where in the world did you get this nonsense from — I teach journalism to B.Sc. students a well reputed university in Karachi and have so far given four F’s for plagiarised homework assignments — Stop generalising Sam, give examples —

    And btw, this isnt the forum to ask the newspapers this — write to their editors — but I suspect the editor of The News will tell you what I have told you —

  4. Omar R. Quraishi (unregistered) on March 7th, 2007 @ 5:43 pm

    btw sam what would you call this?

    Apparently the GN does precisely what it accuses ofthers of doing — lifting articles from the CSM

  5. Arsalaan Haleem (unregistered) on March 7th, 2007 @ 5:45 pm

    Though, not a expert on copywrite law but I don’t think the source C would be liable to damages by source A. But they ‘C’ would be liable, if they don’t credit their direct source, which in this case is ‘B’. In last case, B would definitely have a case against ‘C’.

  6. Teeth Maestro (unregistered) on March 7th, 2007 @ 5:50 pm

    I think either way, GN should present the evidence, in some form or the other for us to assume GN is perfect should not be the case, its almost like the Darryl Hair Ball Tampering issue, have evidence then cry fowl and then if they publish an accusations show enough to support the case, rather then fire shots in the air.

    On the other hand, I address to Mr. Omar Qureshi, you must have to admit there is definitely some degree of plagiarism that continues in the offices of Jang, we all know the lazy journalist which may have once too often copied and pasted just to meet a deadline (I say this not with concrete evidence but by actually talking to a few ‘jang’ journalists who may sometimes admit ‘yar copy kar do’) even that attitude is rampant all around and not only limited to Jang/TheNews

    So we definitely do have a problem. I am sure even Jang would cry foul if for eg Dawn copied a feature article (which jang has paid for syndication).

    We don’t have to come to a solution but MB opens the floor for discussion, and not to throw accusations at each other

  7. SAM (unregistered) on March 7th, 2007 @ 6:13 pm

    @ Teeth Maestro : I am not accusing any local paper but doing what is more important i.e. to discuss and admit mistakes everywhere and this is why I keep on visiting KMB which not only provides a chance of being up to date to my lovely city but opens up minds for debates, how controversial they may be.

    @Mr. Omar: Right now I am busy I will come later with more stuff on how our so called educated is ethically equivalent to the normal thieves on road. I can bring 10 fellows here (from all renowned universities) who will admit off the record that they copied stuff from one source or the other.

  8. mansoor (unregistered) on March 7th, 2007 @ 7:57 pm

    i’m with what sam says… we’ve been trained all our adult lives to copy/paste rather than write.

    Even teachers prefer that.. any original thought, and you get a zero.. copy/paste or rote it, and you get full marks…

  9. Zainub (unregistered) on March 7th, 2007 @ 7:59 pm

    This is not a surprise, though extremely disappointing in any case. I my self noted and protested against plagiarism by The News only a few weeks back. Check out this post for details. The short story is that The News copy and pasted large chunks of an article from Cricinfo, without any refrence or permission, I emailed the Cricinfo folks about it, and they told me, it wasn’t the first time it had happened, in fact, according to what they told me, other websites go around copying their stuff almost on a daily basis, a mainstream newspaper doing it was rather unusual, but one cannot deny there is a definite trend in this regard. During India’s last tour to Pakistan, Dawn it self copy and pasted large chunks of an article from Cricinfo. I didn’t blog about it back then so I don’t have a link, but I do have a very vivid recollection of this happening.

    The initial comment from Sam is spot on though, being a college student my self I can relate to what he said, I tried my level best not to quote from other source without adequate reference whenever I had to submit assignments, but mass copy and pasting is a very actively practiced procedure amongst students in general. And the sad thing is, that despite verbal condemnation from teachers, and sometime marks deduction as well, students don’t seem to have any remorse or regret for their actions. This reflects a general attitude of ignorance and indifference that unfortunately has engulfed our society and is leading to our collective and progressive moral degradation.

  10. Teeth Maestro (unregistered) on March 7th, 2007 @ 8:27 pm

    zainub – WOW -looking at your post could it very well be a habit of The News (OQ don’t kill me just yet) to copy and paste.

    Is this yet another black mark against Jang?

  11. dawnlover (unregistered) on March 7th, 2007 @ 8:40 pm

    Let’s face it — DAWN is just a better newspaper than THE NEWS. Who even reads THE NEWS? They have lesser pages and a lesser number of quality stories. Frankly there’s more news in the DAWN.

    Also, the editorial quality of the DAWN is far superior to that of THE NEWS. THE NEWS is an amateur attempt at an English newspaper, and thus they have to resort to such low tactics. Quite simply, DAWN is the gold standard and I don’t know why anyone would choose THE NEWS over DAWN especially since the costs are similar.

    (As an aside, the quality of the paper used in printing at DAWN is much better than the one they use at NEWS)

  12. SAM (unregistered) on March 7th, 2007 @ 9:00 pm

    @DAWNLOVER Thank you for your valuable comment. Anyways the issue is plagiarism & not the papers so it would be good if you talk on it, with special emphasis on our universities as highlighted, which have become breeding ground for this copy pasting fever.

    Also can anyone of you answer the last para in the post?

    What action B can take against C?

    I don’t know the answer. Can anyone tell us?

  13. d0ct0r (unregistered) on March 7th, 2007 @ 9:25 pm

    @Omar u must be kidding right? to acuse GN of lifting content from CSM(Christian Science Monitor)… maybe they must have some kinda arrangement to share articles plus nevertheless they have given credit to the original author which they accuse “The News” never did….

  14. UZi (unregistered) on March 7th, 2007 @ 9:28 pm

    @ Dawnlover: Dude, someone at Dawn copied my story word-for-word once. My story was the lede on Daily Times’ metro pages somewhere in the first week of September. A week later, I saw the same thing (albeit a few words changed in a couple of places) in one of Dawn’s weekly supplements — under somebody else’s byline.

    I wonder where you got your “invaluable” pro-Dawn comments from.

    Actually going ahead and printing the “Dubai paper’s threat to Pakistani daily” was a LOW trick, to say the least. All THEY (Dawn waaley) have done is that they’ve picked up the GN piece, changed a few words, and passed it off as their own. Heck, they’re doing pretty much what GN’s accusing The News of doing!

    Good journalism required that they put in The News ka side of the picture as well. Cheap stunt pulled by Dawn, I’d say.

  15. nocturnal (unregistered) on March 7th, 2007 @ 9:44 pm

    They should change the paper’s name, I could suggest one,


  16. Anonymous (unregistered) on March 7th, 2007 @ 10:37 pm

    I used to work at The News for a short period of time and i can say this that they DO plagiarize stuff, in parts if not whole articles. I would suggest OQ to see the magazine section more carefully and see how it works. the lady above me always used to say ‘oh just get a good recipe off the net for the next issue’.
    Although we were told in the beginning abt the policy for taking pictures from the net, it was a common practice to simply do a Google search for the needed picture and carry it without and credit whatsoever. I am not surprised now that the ppr is facing a legal challenge for copying stuff.

  17. Omar R. Quraishi (unregistered) on March 7th, 2007 @ 11:06 pm

    Teeth maestro — I can only speak for The News, not for Jang or any other paper — For The News I can safely say that plagiarism is not accepted — also you are quoting purely anecdotal evidence — my views are based on being in the field — let me put it this way alvi sahib, i wont argue with you or try to pass ‘expert’ comments on how bad or good doctors/dentists are because i know my professional knowledge of the field is limited —

    dawn lover — actually The News is quite good — though I agree its readership in Karachi is lower than it should be — actually Dawn (where I worked for 11.5 years including 6 as assisant editor on its op-ed pages) is declining in quality although its new editor is trying to make changes

    you know ‘dawn lover’, your comments have to be informed or they come across as drivel

    Sam — I dont know who you will bring but I went to Columbia University (hope you have heard of it) for my bachelor’s and University of Chicago for my master’s (hope you have heard of that as well) and I didnt plagiarise ever — so for every 10 people that you bring I can quote 100 cases of people who think that plagiarism is stealing

    zainab — im afraid you’re spreading disinformation — osman samiuddin who i know from his days at Dawn’s Aurora magazine is the Pakistan editor for Cricinfo and The News carries his pieces as part of an arrangement and pays for them as well

  18. Omar R. Quraishi (unregistered) on March 7th, 2007 @ 11:14 pm

    Like I said doctor, your queries are better going to be addressed if you write to the editor of The News. However, I can safely say that The News does not carry articles from other papers without giving them due credit. I have already said earlier and dont want to keep repeating myself that to that extent the GN story is false. As for GN having an arrangement with them, I am not aware of it and I am presuming neither are you. BTW, a lot of papers who do this — Pakistani or foreign — often dont have any such arrangements in place

  19. Omar R. Quraishi (unregistered) on March 7th, 2007 @ 11:22 pm

    doctor — pray tell me why i would be kidding — so you’re assuming that foreign papers would never indulge in something like this — typical desi complexed attitude you seem to have — well at least the pakistani press has never had a jayson blair or judith miller — and the press doesnt go embedded with the military and actually tries to resist such pressures and censorship

    anonymous dear — recipes are likely to be not original most of the time, which doesnt mean that they should be plagiarised – i dont know when you worked for the news but with the current editor things are different and if evidence of plagiarism is brought to him and proven then action is taken

    i can say for my own pages — we have dropped a well-known writer (WHO BY THE WAY IS A DAWN COLUMNIST STILL) after we found he was recycling his own columns — when I confronted him he feigned ignorance that it was not such a bad thing — but he was blacklisted and he does not come on the Op-ed pages of The News — similarly just last week we caught another so-called big name recycling his older column and we did not carry his piece either and warned him — to think that newspapers do this as a part of policy as doctor, dr alvi, sam and others are implying is incorrect — dr alvi how would you like it if i told you that all doctors are on the take from pharma firms — would i be making a sweeping generalisation or would i be fair and correct in my assessment

    i would agree with urooj here– dawn executed a low blow, something i didnt expect it to do (and i say this from my time spent at the paper and knowing its senior editorial staff)

  20. Omar R. Quraishi (unregistered) on March 7th, 2007 @ 11:25 pm

    anonymous — Dawn does the same as well — as in taking pictures of the net — and take a look at its op-ed pages – it does not have the right to the NYT or the LAT or WP but routinely carries their articles — i wonder which world all of you guys live in — like in any profession there are bad eggs in journalism as well – however it is the job of good editors to catch those who plagiarise and blacklist and punish such writers

  21. Teeth Maestro (unregistered) on March 7th, 2007 @ 11:30 pm

    OQ – I think I agree with a lot what you said, my comments are YES purely anecdotal and I cannot & should not blanket cover Jang with The News in one fold, yes I also agree I should not criticize what I do not know. I rest my case as its not my battle to fight, let the professionals handle the case if there is any.

    Additionally I also believe, we should NOT be accusing DAWN / JANG / THE NEWS or GN for who is at fault, its a futile battle, let GN take the issue to court if there is any case. To me right now its just a mud wrestling contest only sad side was that ‘credible newspapers like DAWN’ pitched in to join the fun by throwing a sweet lil punch by publishing an article that was NOT NEWSWORTHY. I rest my case – I shall watch from the sidelines

  22. Omar R. Quraishi (unregistered) on March 7th, 2007 @ 11:36 pm

    well yes — actually in case you havent noticed dawn seems to be changing — today they had a front page item about a ban on govt ads and in the heading they had their own name – very unlike dawn but i suppose things change — yes GN should have gone to court instead of taking cheap pot shots such as this – and i dont want to get into this here but they are the last ones who should be accusing others of plagiarism — but related to this is what is the point of this post on this blog here if as you said yourself the point is not accuse newspapers

    if tomorrow i publish a slanderous piece in my newspapers, will you or your fellow bloggers here use that also to start a thread?

    and btw this is just to clarify people like ‘dawn lover’ or ‘sam’ or ‘anonymous’ here, three of the most senior people at the news in karachi are all old dawn and herald hands — the editor was editor of herald for a long time and then features editor and editorial writer at dawn — the op-ed pages editor was at dawn for 11 plus years including six as assistant editor and editorial writer and the editor reporting was an assistant editor and editorial writer as well — similarly abbas nasir himself spent a lot of time at the news, while the new resident editor of dawn in lahore was previously editor of the news on sunday

  23. MB (unregistered) on March 7th, 2007 @ 11:55 pm


    “Who even reads THE NEWS?”

    We do & many do. What a stupid point you have raised dear. Doesn’t act like an ostrich who doesn’t know a decent paper? THE NEWS is one of the top papers read. Our credits often mention it as source.

    Anyways, my view is similar to TM except that I have strong reservations about students doing it.

    Please don’t try to defend students. Accept that students, in majority are doing it, top university students that is. And there are many incidents. Just look at this link. See how much a joke this student became that too a computer graduate. There are thousands of examples occurring daily in private schools where students have access to internet, colleges & universities. With friends from all over country I can bet my life on the fact that not 50% graduates can even write a simple research paper properly documented, in Pakistan. Such is the standard of education here.

    And I don’t consider them solely responsible. They have been brought up in such an environment. Its the same with teachers. If teachers would be do-numberi (yes i mean it) what you expect the product they will introduce in society. Hardly one out of 10000 students 1 will get a teacher like Hoodbhoy who has this perspective about teaching.

  24. d0ct0r (unregistered) on March 8th, 2007 @ 12:26 am

    actually i said you must be kidding coz you’re simply not aware if GN has any kind of agreement with CSM(Christian Science Monitor) to use their content so simply accusing them just like that isn’t a sensible thing to do.. on the other hand when GN accuses The News of lifting contents from its site then they’re sure that they(GN) and The News had no such agreement to use each others content..

  25. MB (unregistered) on March 8th, 2007 @ 12:35 am

    This story is old but i tell you what, the situation over all is worse than before. And if this is the state of universities then imagine the state of colleges and schools. So what you expect them to be then. Intellectual thieves , what else. The toppers in boards are just bunch of memory disk souls, on whom everything is copied.

  26. d0ct0r (unregistered) on March 8th, 2007 @ 12:48 am

    @Omer u said “BTW, a lot of papers who do this — Pakistani or foreign — often dont have any such arrangements in place”

    am not a journalist but am aware that newspapers do have arrangements among them to share news items,article,pics etc… and even without any such agreement proper credits are given to orginal authors..

  27. Zainub (unregistered) on March 8th, 2007 @ 3:16 am

    Omar, The News article I linked to at my site was not by Osman, it was by S. Rajesh. Either way, I’d have though the News would mention who the article is from, even if it were from Osman. But in the example of plagiarism I linked too, the newspaper copied large chunks of S. Rajesh’s column The Numbers Game for Cricinfo and pasted it with other stuff without any reference what so ever. If that is not plagiarism, I don’t know what is.

    And just to repeat what I said earlier, I have noticed on earlier occasions other newspapers, including Dawn it self, copying and pasting from not only Cricinfo but other websites too, without proper referencing.

    My understanding is that this habit stems from a general belief, like some one said, that since stuff is out there on the web, its deemed in the public space. Ignorance and indifference, I’ll repeat.

    And I’m not taking sides here. I do not know which article GN claim The News copied from, but given they are complaining, I thought it necessary to point out about the past occasions where I have witnessed plagiarism my self, otherwise, until GN can produce evidence, The News folks will have every right to plead innocence until proven guilty.

    I repeat again that I am not talking any sides. I certainly cannot when I am regular reader of both The News and The Dawn. I find it very odd actually that people should chose to read only one newspaper. And yes, I agree, the manner in which Dawn carried the story of Gulf News accusing The News, could have been better, the Dawn-front page news, which I was going to write about earlier my self if you hadn’t mentioned it, was surprising too.

  28. omar r. quraishi (unregistered) on March 8th, 2007 @ 7:17 am

    yes zainab — what you pointed out is something that if it were brought to the attention of the editor, action would be taken

    doctor — stop being facetious – yes there are arrangements that the news also has — but all newspapers do not have arrangements for all the things that they print — for example, do you think DT has the rights for all the foreign articles that it publishes (several every day)

    as for plagiarism encouraged by editors, that is incorrect — how many times should i say that that the GN story is malicious on that score

  29. BoZz (unregistered) on March 8th, 2007 @ 1:36 pm

    Quote – “most senior people at the NEWS in karachi are all old dawn and herald hands –” un-quote

    I wonder if the above comes under ‘plagiarism’ or ‘re-cycling’ act?


  30. Original-Anon (unregistered) on March 8th, 2007 @ 2:31 pm

    MB – It is a little hard to wade through the gibberish that you write; but I managed that task and have to ask you this – why do you take such glee in accusing people? From your Dr.Essa post to the Meera one and now this; not only are these irrelevant to a Karachi blog, they are in extremely poor taste.

  31. Omar R Quraishi (unregistered) on March 8th, 2007 @ 2:46 pm

    i quite agree with you orginal-anon — isnt he one of the writers on this blog and if so, he clearly needs to exercise greater responsibility

    bozz i quite agree with you orginal-anon — isnt he one of the writers on this blog and if so, he clearly needs to exercise greater responsibility


  32. d0ct0r (unregistered) on March 8th, 2007 @ 3:14 pm

    The News is a Karachi based newspaper its not some holy cow that can’t be discussed… MB is not at fault here he is merely discussing some thing that appeared in media and when you’re unable to come up with some reasonable justification you simply turn your guns toward MB….

    btw if The News is all innocent then why not take GN to court and settle this issue…

  33. Omar R. Quraishi (unregistered) on March 8th, 2007 @ 3:19 pm

    doctor – now you are beginning to annoy me — where did i ever say that its a holy cow and it cant be discussed — unless of course you read things that are not written here — stop wasting my time — i dont have time to respond to your silly insinuations — kindly re-read my posts — nowhere is it being said that there should be no discussion of the news or any other paper — “unable to come with any reasonable justification” —

    I just told you that the accusation by GN of plagiarism is incorrect — further than that if you dont believe that take your queries to the editor of the news —

  34. faylasuf (unregistered) on March 8th, 2007 @ 5:02 pm

    I guess this is the first time I v seen such a heated debate here at KMB
    and another first that i v seen so many posts by Omar on a single subject ÔÅä

    I do agree with MB on several points and couldn’t disagree with what Zainub had to add..

    I don’t want to shift the focus from actual topic but i must also add that Dawn has been my fav over the years, and lately i v seen noticeable shift of quality in both the news papers, dawn and The News, where the former is loosing the touch and later actually improving

    With reference to our education system, well it seems to be a lost case now which is in need of stringent measures for improvement
    Ctrl “C” & Ctrl “V” are actually the part of student vocabulary these days, very much a part of our culture

    We feel proud when sum one comes up with a duplicate… a copy..
    Students are actually expected to reproduce the material learnt by heart in examination and the process goes on and on, talk about media and or general industry Copy paste is the easy way out

    Reforms are needed on grass root level.

  35. Adnan Siddiqi (unregistered) on March 8th, 2007 @ 5:23 pm

    I already said once that Jang Group is a group of thugs who never misses chance to steal news from other sources. Jang paper specially steal the articles from International papers and don’t even mention the name of authors because they know that majority of urdu readers are not Internet users,specially they don’t visit english news websites.

  36. omar r. quraishi (unregistered) on March 8th, 2007 @ 11:25 pm

    adnan – we know who the real thug is btw — i think that’s all the response your ‘post’ merits

  37. Adnan Siddiqi (unregistered) on March 9th, 2007 @ 9:33 am

    we know who the real thug is btw

    Yep- The Jang group. Who made a fake Gumnam series for increasing viewership. Cheap stunt I must say.

  38. omar r. quraishi (unregistered) on March 9th, 2007 @ 2:32 pm

    And you know its fake because?

  39. Abdul Sami (unregistered) on March 9th, 2007 @ 2:44 pm

    Omar please don’t waste your energies in a series of arguments with no result. Please if you cannot do any constructive work keep quiet then. if you could manage to converge your energies for a positive cause this story is seriously waiting to gain mass attention. Can you publish this in you respective paper???

  40. omar r. quraishi (unregistered) on March 9th, 2007 @ 8:26 pm

    abdul sami man u have some nerve — u r rude and personal against me AND you expect me to do you a favour — haha —

    oh and one more thing abdul sami — i will speak as much and for as long as i wish — you dont have to read or agree with what i write but dont tell me to be quiet

  41. omar r. quraishi (unregistered) on March 9th, 2007 @ 8:27 pm

    Come to think of it – Dont you read the papers — they have stories like this all the time

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