Thursday, January 08, 2009

Muddling plagiarism up with lies

Thanks to WritersWeekly, I found this article about a plagiarized Christmas essay:

Christmas Essay Was Not His, Author Admits

To make a long story short, Neale Donald Walsch took an essay first published by Candy Chand ten years ago, and reprinted it almost word for word, claiming it as his own work.

What is especially surprising about this is that the essay is a personal story — about an event in Chand's life. The event never even happened to Walsch, yet for years he has been telling the story as if it were his own. He claims that somewhere along the way, his mind "played a trick" on him and made him think it actually did happen to him.

Which doesn't at all explain why his essay was virtually identical to Chand's. Unless he wants us to believe that he accidentally memorized someone else's work, word for word, while still thinking it was his life the author was writing about.

Wake up and smell the copyright infringement! Seems to me Walsch probably figured that with the story circulating on the Internet, often with no attribution, and being about ten years old, no one would question it if he claimed it as his own.

The most surprising part about this is... Walsch is a Christian writer! Chand said it best when she noted the irony, in her quote at the end of the article:

“Has the man who writes best-selling books about his ‘Conversations With God’ also heard God’s commandments? ‘Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not lie, and thou shalt not covet another author’s property’?”

I think we all know what Walsch's next conversation with God will be like...

2 comments:

Kathy@TheFlawlessWord said...

I read about this prior the Writer's Weekly mention. This type of thing is starting to really tick me off. And you're right, as a self-proclaimed Christian, he should be holding himself to a higher standard. but stealing is unlawful, Christian or not. Have you heard about the Holocaust story (a children's version of it was already released called "Angel Girl") in which the long-married couple claimed to have met through a fence at a concentration camp and finally admitted it was not true? Now these individuals WERE concentration camp survivors (not to mention have a marriage that has lasted decades) and already had a pretty amazing story to tell. Why manufacturer something like that? Needless to say, the publisher did the right thing and pulled the book just prior to its publication date. The controversy alone probably would have made them a killing, so there is still some redeeming hope in the publishing world.

Katharine Swan said...

I agree, Christian ethics are far from the only reason this is wrong, but it's still nice bit of irony.

I hadn't heard of the Holocaust story. It's amazing to me that people feel they need to embellish stories like that. I personally think most people's lives are pretty interesting without the embellishing.