The Ugly Face Of Plagiarism

Disclaimer: The following discussion may not be 100% Karachi related, but the authors of KMB felt it was too important an issue not to make an exception for. Thank you for your patience, co-operation and understanding.

The Internet is such diverse and easy to use medium it expands our horizons for communication like few other mediums in the history of mankind have. The effect this has had on the publication industry in particular is worth looking at. While on one hand it has given every and anybody a means to become a publisher (it takes less then five minutes to start your own blog), on the other hand, this mass ameuterization of publishing has virtually opened the floodgates for one of the industry’s biggest evils – plagiarism. A few days back here at the Karachi Metroblog it self we joyfully disclosed the newest edition of WeCite, a fairly new and on the face exciting ezine (online magazine for those who’re not familiar with the term), that represented to us, the changing face of journalism. The rise of “new media” as its called. But alas, things weren’t to be this rosy.

One of our readers, Salman, initially pointed us to the possibility of one of their articles being plagiarised, and later confirmed this him self by contacting the original author of the article, who verified the article was indeed copied. The same day, I send a stern email to their editorial team, demanding attribution for two of my images (this and this) that they had used in one of their articles (see this). And despite apologies, both in the comments section here, and via email, which reassured me, that the images would be attributed and re-licensed as necessary “as soon as possible” three days went by and nothing was done.

It was not out of quest for publicity that I demanded proper attribution. Most images on Flickr, from where they lifted my images too, are either all rights reserved, or some rights reserved, under Creative Commons Licenses. The license I used (CC Share-Alike Attribution 2.0) allowed reuse, adapting and distribution, under the condition of proper attribution and re-licensing under the same license under which the image was first uploaded. Any use of the images that does not fulfill this criterion was illegal. It was a matter of principle, and I expected, that an ezine that was seemingly proud of its open-mindedness and liberality, would respect and abide by laws, that it would know better then the ordinary Joe on the street what copyright was and why it was important.

It was this frustration that led me last night to dig deeper into the matter. I initially discovered that the article they had used my images for, was it self an adapted version of an article that appeared in The Hindustan Times, but as I searched more, using Copyscape, a fantastic plagiarism-detecting search engine, the research presented some shocking discoveries. Out of a total of 27 articles published in this month’s issue, at least 11 were plagiarised, either exact copies of other articles on the web, or with major chunks copied from other sources. Vis-a-Vis and Slant Magazine in particular faced the brunt of the copy-attacks, with 5 and 2 of their articles respectively being copied word for word.

Other content was lifted from Rediff News, Blogcritics, and even random blogs of ordinary people, like Jtom’s In The Family House, were not spared. And if you thought it was merely the staff and guest writers that were deceiving and misleading their editorial team, let me tell you that everyone from the editor in chief, to the associate and executive editor, had at least one plagiarised article under their names.

Hastily I send emails to many of the authors whose work had been copied, not surprisingly, some of them are now responding back saying their attempts to get in touch with the magazine staff is resulting in bounced back emails. Indeed much of their website is now becoming inaccessible, with “server upgrade” maintenance messages coming up with apologies. Urooj Zia, fellow Karachi metroblogger and one of the guest writers there, has expressed her disbelief and asked her article to be removed from their website. Urooj’s article was one of only 16 articles in the magazine which was original.

In a society where piracy and copyright infringement are viewed as an acceptable practice, an invariable product of inflation and where leading daily broadsheets, names like Dawn and The News, occasionally don’t mind lifting copyright content from the web and incorporating it in their owns publications without attribution, it is perhaps not entirely surprising that a budding ezine should also resort to such tactics. But it is the extent to which they have plagiarised is what is truly shocking. It shows how deeply ingrained indifference, cheating and dishonesty are in our society.

Below you’ll find a complete list of all their plagiarised articles along with links to the original authors they were copied from. As attempts to get in touch with WeCite keep resulting in futility, I urge you to publicize this issue your self as much as you can. Plagiarism is a hideous crime and it should be not condoned at any level. Perhaps, if we, the readers, show a strong response to it this time, it will send a strong warning to all those out there to guard against it heavily in the future. And whilst you’re at it, don’t forget to check out Copyscape and put some of their banners on your blog or website. And you might as well check if your own content hasn’t been copied by someone else too, in this day and age, you never know.

1. Go Go Go Pakistan – by Head Biter
Copied from: Cricket and the Blue Billion – by Vir Sanghvi, The Hindustan Times

2. SpiderMan 3 Review -By Head Biter
Copies from: Spider-Man 3 -by Ed Gonzalez, Slant Magazine

3. Madonna – Erotica -By Kiran Bokhari
Copied from: Madonna-Erotica -by Sal Cinquemani, Slant Magazine

4. Mullah Power! – by Ayesha Fazli
Copied from: Why The Mullahs Will Win In Pakistan – By Sushant Sareen, Rediff News

5. Tango-The History of Love -By Kiran Bokhari
Copied from: TANGO: The History of Love…for Three Minutes -By Lisa Cigel, Vis-a-Vis, Magazine

6. Underestimating Your Self-worth -by Ayesha Fazli
Copied from: THEN AND NOW: Never Underestimate Your Self Worth -By Neli Lalanne, Vis-a-Vis Magazine

7. Way of the Mommy! -By Sumbal Aziz
Copied from: What To Expect When You’re Not Expecting -By Sala Elise Patterson, Vis-a-Vis Magazine

8. Just Another Blog on the Wall -By Rabia Manzoor
Copied from: Why Most Film and Music Blogs Have No Voice -by Tiffany Leigh, Blogcritics

9. 300: This is Sparta -By Omar Saleem & Miss WeCite
One huge chunk copied from: 300 – the movie – “guy flick” – from a chick’s perspective -By Jtom, In The Family House

10. Those bonds -By Ayesha Fazli
Copied from: FEMALE FELLOWSHIP: A Celebration Of The Bonds That Exist Among Girlfriends -By Sala Elise Patterson, Vis-a-Vis Magazine

11.Till Death Do Us Part: Is monogamy more prevalent than we thing? -By Christina Anderson
Copied from: TILL DEATH OF LOVE DO US PART: Musings On Monogamy, By Shashoua, Vis-a-Vis Magazine

Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape

65 Comments so far

  1. Fariha Akhtar (unregistered) on June 3rd, 2007 @ 3:14 am

    Gr8 work Zainub! You did an amazing job :)

  2. A for [pine]apple (unregistered) on June 3rd, 2007 @ 3:17 am

    if the point’s been raised, I personally am , not in favour of posting this very post on other Metroblogging blogs. As for Ms. Urooj Zia had a piece in it then she works for Daily Times I guess, you cant print DT here. Announcing its release was not justifiable too, just because you’ve had an article in it – You could’ve cross-posted it or given a link of that :-) It seems as if you’re self-promoting.

    It’s been published here is OK, as you want to get out of the close circle of city journalism at times. But then its advisable, IMvHO, to have it posted on your personal blogs rather on such International Platforms.

    If you Know what I mean … :-)

  3. bongi (unregistered) on June 3rd, 2007 @ 3:18 am

    @Phil bugoff

    @Zainab shabaash mighty girl.

  4. Zainub (unregistered) on June 3rd, 2007 @ 3:43 am

    Obi, Phil, Asma and any one else who may also think this is not Karachi related,

    I totally take your point, I only went ahead with writing this after consulting the rest of the team, and had it not been the fact that we had not discussed this before, and recommended it, we will not have used this platform, we felt we had some amount of responsibility to tell you guys what these folks were really about. Let me assure you, that I otherwise, take as much care as I can, to keep my posts here perfectly Karachi centric. I know this is not 100% Karachi related, and I concede that, but the consensus we had was that it was too important an issue not to make an exception for. And I agree with Obi’s suggestion, I’ll put at header here clarifying our position on this matter. Hope you’ll all understand. :)

  5. A for [pine]apple (unregistered) on June 3rd, 2007 @ 4:01 am


  6. Obi Wan Kenobi (unregistered) on June 3rd, 2007 @ 10:37 am

    Thanks Zainub, I appreciate your attitude.

  7. Phil (unregistered) on June 3rd, 2007 @ 12:32 pm

    @Bongi: Bongi naa maar. LOL.

    @Zainub: I still think you took it a bit to far, just because some reused your pictures that were in the first place not totally your by any means, and the idea for the second one was totally not original, you started a whole crusade and God knows a focused hate circle against a few who were trying their part to come up with something.

    Tell me, how many times did any of these star-struck metroblog readers even visit that site to claim it had any importance if they managed to ‘chappa’ articles from the web?

    Then, more over, thankfully the best bloggers of this blog site come-up with anti-plagiarism movements and at their best post about how a poor girl was crushed to death and her eye-ball popped out surely sends a good message across the nation, save the world, about the bloggers themselves, save the people of this nation.

    Great job!

  8. original-faisal (unregistered) on June 3rd, 2007 @ 3:04 pm

    I have one simple query for Phil.

    What follows below is an excerpt from
    a post Phil wrote on his personal blog
    regarding the WeCite controversy.

    “Coming from a land of the originals, we should be knowing a few things, and should understand and accept a few unswallowable realities. But why would anyone need to do that over the internet where ‘most’ of the content posted online is ‘shareable’ and ‘reproduce-able’? A land where entire movie scripts are translated, (lost), and reproduced with a different name. Where software and music piracy is killing the local software market and music industry. Where adulterated food items and utilities are killing thousands every day. Where we don’t even know the difference between Czech and check… Yet we have these champions of originality coming out to tell us who’s wrong and who’s not! God! The nerve.”

    Even if one were to concede that what you
    wrote is in fact true, does that make what
    the WeCite team did right? To condone and
    accept an action which is morally and
    ethically reprehensible is reprehensible
    in and of itself.

  9. d0ct0r (unregistered) on June 3rd, 2007 @ 4:51 pm

    next time they’d be careful and won’t copy word to word.. instead they’d copy bits and pieces…

  10. d0ct0r (unregistered) on June 3rd, 2007 @ 4:53 pm

    “We would also like to thank Karachi Metroblog for the rude but much needed awakening in this regard.”

    rude heh?

  11. Adnan Siddiqi (unregistered) on June 3rd, 2007 @ 7:15 pm

    at one side phil criticizes zainab for having enuff falto time while he himself had enuff spare time to create an entry. Amazing! *grin*

  12. SALMAN A. (unregistered) on June 3rd, 2007 @ 10:32 pm

    I had so much spare time that I even read your post:

    and it was really “As pathetic as it gets!”..


    C’mon give us a break!!

    Next time please use a new alias and come up with something less pathetic.

    You suck…..

  13. Adnan Siddiqi (unregistered) on June 5th, 2007 @ 1:54 am

    @kashif: you’re right bro. A country where piracy of CDs nad other thing is not an issue and stealing electricity etc is considered a matter of pride, the thing done by Wecite is not harmful at all. Infact not big infront of things I mentioned above.

  14. Phil (unregistered) on June 5th, 2007 @ 2:29 am

    @Salman: Thanks for reading my post and quoting it here. Where may I read your thoughts? Or are you not confident enough to share them with us? No, I know, actually they only have two words in it, ‘sucks’, and ‘sucks’. Well, even if you had A place where you’d scribble thoughts that are hard to come by, you couldn’t mention it with your post, and I am being told to get a new alias! Nice!

    @KrAzEe Adnan Bhaijaan: I have all the time in world. I aint the one writing this stuff ‘in a hurry’. Plus, hey, thanks for popularizing my blog :)

    @Faisal: The picture is much bigger, probably sloppy wording led you to think I am only concerned with the CD’s I buy, but no. I agree crimes that are reprehensible, are reprehensible, but lets not forget there are proper methods of bringing around justice. If we don’t care about the rules or limits set upon ourselves while doing that, we have no right to correct others. What WeCite ‘team’ did was totally wrong, what is happening on our Blogosphere through these post ALSO wrong, not in spirit, but in method. The author could have asked other bloggers to post the same story on their own personal blogs, instead of reposting on all the three cities we have. We all know what the rules Sean Bonner saab sent to us when we joined MBs. Best regards.

    And all the best to the rest of you.

    Meanwhile, Adnan, you work on what K means in KMB.

  15. bina (unregistered) on June 15th, 2007 @ 10:06 am

    Hi Zainab, great article – I just wanted to point out that Dawn, at least, does not plagiarize. It has reprint agreements with the Observer and several other news services and they pay a fee to use a certain amount of articles from a selection offered to them through the reprint services. I know this for a fact because that’s what we used to do at SPIDER. The other newspapers, though, especially the Daily Times Infotainment section, are definitely copied – from the Daily Mail in London mostly!

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