Re: Detecting Plagiarism

From: Sol Picciotto <>
Date: Thu, 24 Jul 2003 15:09:17 +0100

Martin Blume wrote:

> We would of course have pursued this on behalf of the authors of
> the plagiarized article if they had retained copyright. But this
> wouldn't work if the paper were in the public domain. I can point to
> three different papers in the past six months where we used copyright
> as a prod in dealing with other journals.

I think you are mistaking the concept of `public domain'. The fact that
a paper is pre-published does not in the legal sense put it into the
'public domain', the author retains copyright, and can transfer rights
to the publisher of a revised version, or retain them.

It may be that legal threats are the most effective way of getting a
plagiarist to respond, and they may seem more plausible coming from a
publisher, who can be assumed to have greater resources to resort to
law. As has been pointed out, however, such threats rarely are pursued
into the courts, Moral pressures on a plagiarist may also be strong,
though they need to come from third parties, often the editors of the
journal. Such third parties can be placed in very difficult positions
however, especially if there is a dispute about the adequacy or need for
attribution of sources. But copyright does not help much in such cases.



Sol Picciotto
Lancaster University Law School
Lancaster University
Lancaster LA14YN
direct phone (44)(0)1524-592464
fax (44)(0)1524-525212

Received on Thu Jul 24 2003 - 15:09:17 BST

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