Saturday, October 9, 2010

No Satisfaction

Some months back, Meta Cranky learned that an ancient essay of hers had been plagiarized. More specifically, someone named Dr. Shyam Prasad Swain lifted her essay from Studies in the Novel, twiddled with some prepositions, and republished it under his own name in a collection of essays. MC's stony heart was warmed watching placid English major types turn apoplectic on the subject of plagiarism, and she was heartily gratified by the expressions of concern and outrage that came her way.

Apparently, friends' heart-warming concern is the only satisfaction that MC can hope to receive from this theft of her intellectual property. MC is informed that the statute of limitations for prosecuting copyright infringement is three years; that deadline expired back in the George W. Bush administration. So the legal team representing the journal where her essay appeared will send a letter to the fraudulent book's publisher requesting that it cease publishing this particular title. The salient verb would be request, since the journal concedes, "we have no legal recourse at this stage."

MC has sighed heavily. Then she recollected that she was in good company: Stanley Fish was ripped off, too, and his legal satisfaction was as thin as hers. Professor Fish, though, got to air his grievance in the New York Times and proclaim that "the two scholars who began their concluding chapter by reproducing two of my pages are professionally culpable. They took something from me without asking and without acknowledgment, and they profited — if only in the currency of academic reputation — from work that I had done and signed."

Here, here. But there's also a question of degree. Professor Fish's plagiarists are into him for two pages. Dr. Shyam Prasad Swain lifted MC's entire essay. So, short of naming the offender in the pages of the New York Times, what satisfaction can MC manufacture for herself? She recalls a successful campaign waged by her Youngest Older Brother that he called Feed the Bitch. A co-worker got the best of him in office politics; however, her sweet tooth left her utterly vulnerable to the two pounds of M&Ms (plain and peanut) that he purchased each day for office consumption. As Bitchy Co-worker's ass grew, so did Youngest Older Brother's satisfaction.

MC is confident that her friends and acquaintances possess the creative genius to effectively modify Feed the Bitch for her purposes. Let's work the problem, people.

1 comment:

  1. It seems we need to discover Dr. Swain's M&M. In the meantime we can start a first grade letter writing campaign. I suggest to you that an army of first graders knows one rule VERY well: ASK before you TAKE. And its corollary: DON'T TAKE WITHOUT ASKING. The rule applies to the crayons in the center of the table, so it must apply to professional endeavors. grrr.....