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Plagiarism at MyDD.--

[UPDATE Monday, 12:40pm: On two computers that I tried this morning, the Powerblogs page that we use for posting and updating the Volokh Conspiracy was unreachable. Also, I noticed that there were no posts from other VC bloggers on Monday morning, typically one of our heavier posting times. At some hours this morning, I also had trouble reaching the main VC site, but at other hours I had no problems. After I contacted Powerblogs directly, our site was running normally within minutes (thanks to Chris Lansdown).

Some commenters below thought I should have been even more emphatic in emphasizing what I wrote below: "I do not know what Mr. Jefferson's precise position is at MyDD, but I should point out that many sites with diarists know little about them, so one should not judge the website MyDD by Mr. Jefferson."

The plagiarized story by Mr. Jefferson has now been removed from MyDD, though Mr. Jefferson's other posts remain. Here is a picture of the original MyDD story as it appeared on MyDD early this morning.]

I came across this post at the popular political website MyDD:

Did Obama Violate the Illinois Governmental Ethics Act?

by Thomas J Jefferson, Wed Mar 26, 2008 at 12:18:48 PM EST

Paul Caron has Barack and Michelle Obama's tax returns on his website, TaxProf Blog.

http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/ 2008/03/obama-releases.html

The first thing that jumped out is that in some years Barack received no speaking fees or honoraria. Apparently, as an Illinois state legislator through 2004, Barack was prohibited from taking honoraria for speaking under the Illinois Governmental Ethics Act.

But what about Barack Obama's 2000 and 2002 tax returns?

2000: On his 2000 Schedule C-EZ, Barack reported that he received $16,500 as a "Foundation director/Educational speaker."

2001: On his 2001 Schedule C-EZ, Barack reported $98,158 from a Chicago law firm, Miner, Barnhill, for "Legal services/attorney" (and nothing for speaking).

2002: On his 2002 Schedule C, Barack reported $34,491 for "LEGAL SERVCES / SPEAKING FEES."

These "speaking fees" are in addition to the amounts that Barack was paid as an employee, a lecturer at the University of Chicago, reported on the first page of his 1040s.

Note the purported author, John[Thomas] J. Jefferson, and the date, March 26.

I would be guilty of extreme understatement if I were to say that this post sounded awfully familiar when I first read it, since I had written and published the same post (with only a few words different) on the Volokh Conspiracy the night before before Mr. Jefferson's post.

Here was my post at the Volokh Conspiracy on the evening of March 25:

[Jim Lindgren, March 25, 2008 at 9:55pm] Trackbacks

DID BARACK OBAMA VIOLATE THE ILLINOIS GOVERNMENTAL ETHICS ACT?--

At the moment I write this, I am not named in Jefferson's post and The Volokh Conspiracy is neither named nor linked to.

The commenters to Jefferson's post at MyDD appear to treat him as the author, one stating: "If you understand that it's impossible to be certain; why do you use a dozen paragraphs to ask the question?"

An earlier post by Jefferson sparked complaints about his linking practices, though (at least after adding a link to the original story he was quoting) no plagiarism was involved in that earlier post.

I do not know what Mr. Jefferson's precise position is at MyDD, but I should point out that many sites with diarists know little about them, so one should not judge the website MyDD by Mr. Jefferson.

Perseus (mail):
Note the purported author, John J. Jefferson, and the date, March 26.

Correction: The purported author is "THOMAS J. Jefferson."
4.22.2008 5:22am
Just Saying:
Prof Lindgren: I'm not sure if you noticed this or not. If so, consider this comment solely for the benefit of your readers: Note that this doesn't appear to be a front page poster, but some random diarist. The powers that be behind MyDD don't seem to have ripped you off but, rather, one of their commentors. [For those not familar with how MyDD and Daily Kos work: Anybody can be a user, and any user can write a 'diary'. The titles of diaries with links to the full entry appear on a column on the right under "Recent Diaries". If a diary receives enough recommendations from other users, it hits the "Recommended Diary" list, which is a list of 8 recent popular diaries. TPTB will sometimes delete particularly egregious diaries (e.g., Bu$hitler did 9/11), but there's nobody out there making sure that there's no plagiarism. So, unless I'm wrong about this guy being a front page poster, there was no malice from the owners of MyDD.
4.22.2008 9:13am
Just Saying:
I somehow missed the last two lines of your post. I fail at life. Um, strictly more explanation from your readers then.
4.22.2008 9:14am
alias:
The part where the "diarist" refers to "my analysis" is probably the worst part.
4.22.2008 9:58am
JB:
MyDD has become populated by a fairly shrill set of anti-Obama-at-all-costs people, of late. Mr. Jefferson probably trolled the internet for anything sounding remotely bad about him and coopted it.
4.22.2008 10:02am
Erk:
I agree with Just Saying's comments, and add that it is a common courtesy when attacking the publisher of another blog to indicate at the beginning of the post what the author's relationship with that blog is. Here, as Just Saying indicates, the author is a random diarist who is in no way affiliated with MyDD's owners or staff. Implying that MyDD is somehow responsible for Thomas J. Jefferson's content is no more responsible than if someone were to read my comment on this Volokh Conspiracy thread and attack Eugene Volokh for it.

Perhaps, Professor Lindgren, it would be appropriate for you to place an update at the top of your post informing your readers that MyDD is not responsible for the writing of its diarists anymore than the Volokh Conspiracy is responsible for the writing of its commenters.
4.22.2008 10:03am
ParatrooperJJ (mail):
It is a liberal site. WhHat did you expect?
4.22.2008 10:11am
Aultimer:

Erk:

Here, as Just Saying indicates, the author is a random diarist who is in no way affiliated with MyDD's owners or staff.


You could only know that the pseudonymous author is a "random diarist who in no way affiliated with the owners or staff" if you know the identity of the poster. Otherwise, he may or may not be affiliated with or identical to the owners and/or staff. Put up or shut up, as they say.
4.22.2008 10:42am
subpatre (mail):
Does MyDD know their diarist is a thief? Many of these political echo-chamber sites have no idea about what gets posted in their far corners.

Admittedly MyDD's guidlelines only deal with Democratic-based politics ("Users ... being Republican trolls, will be banned." and "Do not create a diary that attacks another user.") and do not mention the usual 'don't steal, don't break the law . . .' rules that 99.9% of sites use.

But it's —at least remotely— possible that MyDD cares whether their community is seen as liars and thieves; or not. They should be made aware of the plagiarism and at least have the opportunity to take action.
4.22.2008 1:18pm
Anderson (mail):
First he cribs the Declaration from Locke, and now this!
4.22.2008 1:24pm
Just Saying:
You could only know that the pseudonymous author is a "random diarist who in no way affiliated with the owners or staff" if you know the identity of the poster. Otherwise, he may or may not be affiliated with or identical to the owners and/or staff. Put up or shut up, as they say.

... and, sure, it COULD be possible that Prof Lindgren registered and posted it himself to make MyDD look bad. Heck, maybe it was Hillary Clinton herself. OR KARL ROVE.


You can't prove it's not Karl Rove, can you? Put up or shut up, as they say.
4.22.2008 1:27pm
Aultimer:

Just Saying:
You could only know that the pseudonymous author is a "random diarist who in no way affiliated with the owners or staff" if you know the identity of the poster. Otherwise, he may or may not be affiliated with or identical to the owners and/or staff. Put up or shut up, as they say.

... and, sure, it COULD be possible that Prof Lindgren registered and posted it himself to make MyDD look bad. Heck, maybe it was Hillary Clinton herself. OR KARL ROVE.


You can't prove it's not Karl Rove, can you? Put up or shut up, as they say.



The burden of proof is on the party making the assertion. Lingren's post disclosed that the relationship beetween the poster and the site was unclear. Why are you and Erk so eager to exonerate the site?
4.22.2008 1:36pm
eddiehaskel (mail):
Oh my god, plagiarism of a blog. How could this happen? And in the end, aren't you happy that this insignificant tripe is being repeated and you could, as a result, echo your own original post.
4.22.2008 1:42pm
Allen Asch (mail) (www):
You think that's bad, you should see how Fox News plagiarized the Prof. Lindgren post, OBAMA: ON DISOWNING REV. WRIGHT

To see what I mean, check out my 3 minute 36 second YouTube video: Fox News Creates Obama Contradiction That Isn't There?

The main difference between the two is that Prof. Lindgren corrected his error, unlike Fox News
4.22.2008 1:48pm
JosephSlater (mail):
On the technical side, I'll just say I was unable to access the VC all morning. Glad the problem seems to be fixed.
4.22.2008 1:55pm
NickM (mail) (www):
Anderson wins the thread.

Nick
4.22.2008 2:03pm
CrazyTrain (mail):
You could only know that the pseudonymous author is a "random diarist who in no way affiliated with the owners or staff" if you know the identity of the poster. Otherwise, he may or may not be affiliated with or identical to the owners and/or staff. Put up or shut up, as they say.

Yes, prove that I am not in fact Senator John McCain. Put up or shut up.
4.22.2008 2:16pm
James Lindgren (mail):
The half-hour stats at sitemeter do suggest that VC was mostly down in the late morning ET.

Jim Lindgren
4.22.2008 2:25pm
Dave N (mail):
CrazyTrain,

If you are, in fact, Senator McCain, then I will have to re-evaluate my support, since the majority of your posts here and your statements elsewhere are so contradictory that you really are suffering from a multiple personality disorder.
4.22.2008 2:29pm
Malvolio:
Honestly, Jim (I've always wanted to say that), you should send the MyDD people a DMCA takedown notice. I don't think that copyright has the same kind of use-it-or-lose-it features as trademark-right (would this time to use the word "laches"?) but still, you should (imo) police your IP.
4.22.2008 2:31pm
James Lindgren (mail):
Malvolio:

Isn't it enough to avoid laches for me to point to the plagiarism, which resulted in a take down, though not any noticing from MyDD to me (so far)?

Jim L.
4.22.2008 2:41pm
Morat20 (mail):
Since it appeared that all it took was alerting the myDD owners that the diary existed and was plagerized to get it removed, I see no reason Lindgren would need as DMCA notice.

I would note that that ALSO undercuts the rather stupid idea posted by some commenters here that the myDD owners created sock-puppets at their own site in order to plagerize Lindgren.

It's the internets. The problem with open-diary formets like Kos and myDD is that anyone can create diaries, and it's really too much for the owners to police for anything but the most egregious offenses. They're not going to google each diary looking for plagerism, but I'm glad to know that the owners seem to be quick enough to remove plagerism when it's brought to their attention.
4.22.2008 3:43pm