Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Plagiarism Revisited

Thanks for the Memory to The Sheila Variations and Emily at Second Breakfast.

Most of the blogosphere has heard of the really sorry tale of Ms. Kaavya Viswanathan, who has recently been busted for stealing many passages of her first novel, How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild and Got a Life, from other recent works by Megan McCafferty.

She also had the services of a "book packager," who is called that because they stand behind the scenes and massage workable novels out of the rambles of authors. In other words, she couldn't even plagiarize somebody else's work on her own - she required help.

It's a small advance for society, I suppose, that Ms. Viswanathan didn't merely throw it all on the anonymous packager. And she did contribute some original material. She and her publisher have announced that future editions of her novel will offer more of it in place of the stolen bits. In software terms, that means that "Opal Mehta" was a beta version pawned off as a finished product, requiring patches and additional work that the consumer should have gotten in the first place. I was rather hoping that the practice wouldn't catch on elsewhere. (And I Cullen Ken Nightfly should know, since I Cullen Ken Nightfly ran a blog carnival that blew up in my face some months back. Yes, it was my his fault.)