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Canada's Conference Board Found Plagiarizing Copyright Report 232

Posted by timothy
from the no-no-we-got-it-from-the-internet dept.
An anonymous reader writes "There is a storm brewing in Canada as the prestigious Conference Board of Canada has been caught plagiarizing US copyright lobby group documents in a report on copyright reform. The report was funded by the Canadian copyright lobby as well as by the Ontario government. The Conference Board has acknowledged some errors, but stands by the report, while the Ontario government admits spending thousands of dollars and it now wants some answers."
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Canada's Conference Board Found Plagiarizing Copyright Report

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  • Turn it in! (Score:5, Funny)

    by hypermike (680396) <hypermike@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @11:08AM (#28095429)
    Turnitin.com eh?
  • by pak9rabid (1011935) on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @11:11AM (#28095477)
    <Bubbles>Why, plagiarism is highly illegal Cory and Trevor! You shouldn't plagiarize, Cory and Trevor!</Bubbles>
  • by MillionthMonkey (240664) on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @11:12AM (#28095481)

    Those quotes were stolen from our hardworking corporate lobbyists without acquiring the relevant content licenses and now it's time to exact a settlement from the Canadians.

    • by linumax (910946)

      time to exact a settlement from the Canadians.

      Um... how about a new White House paint job?

    • What did you expect? After all, they're Canadians!

      You know, the ones that copy DVDs and music with no penalties and say they're paying for it with a "tax" and then they bring their video cameras into the theaters all the time.

      I read it in a report by the Conference Board of Canada!

  • by Drakkenmensch (1255800) on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @11:15AM (#28095525)
    Once again, the copyright lobbyists are eating themselves like an ouroboros lawyer. Are they going to hire Lars Ulrich to explain us why it's alright to pirate your own work when you've been so adamant about suing the pants off everyone else?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @11:23AM (#28095667)

      Lobbying used to be called bribery. It's time the people took control back of their own countries.

      Time for world-wide civil disobedience.

      • Mod parent up.

        Influence buying and peddling are what the pseudo-copyright ecosystem folks are all about. Go ahead, look at how the RIAA, the MPAA, and the other EIA/TIA working groups give campaign contributions to federal and state representatives. Then tell me about free fucking speech.

  • by thirty-seven (568076) on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @11:20AM (#28095603)

    As a Canadian, my first reaction to reading this story on /. was "what is the prestigious Conference Board of Canada?" I mean, I know what the "Ontario government" is and the "US copyright lobby" and "Canadian copyright lobby" are self-explanatory terms, but I'm not familiar with the Conference Board of Canada. When I read it here, I thought maybe it was an agency of the federal government.

    Anyway, I little digging turns up that the Conference Board of Canada is basically a non-profit think-tank, that is funded on a per-service basis. So private groups and governments will pay it to research a topic and publish a paper on it. It also holds conferences and does research reports on its own. According to their official website, their areas of expertise are "running conferences", "conducting, publishing, and disseminating research", "economic trends", and "public policy issues". It is affiliated, but legally separate from, the U.S./international "The Conference Board, Inc. of New York".

    They state: "Objective and non-partisan. We do not lobby for specific interests."

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Apparently their expertise doesn't extend to properly citing their sources while conducting their "research".

    • by Colonel Korn (1258968) on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @11:53AM (#28096155)

      As a Canadian, my first reaction to reading this story on /. was "what is the prestigious Conference Board of Canada?" I mean, I know what the "Ontario government" is and the "US copyright lobby" and "Canadian copyright lobby" are self-explanatory terms, but I'm not familiar with the Conference Board of Canada. When I read it here, I thought maybe it was an agency of the federal government.

      Anyway, I little digging turns up that the Conference Board of Canada is basically a non-profit think-tank, that is funded on a per-service basis. So private groups and governments will pay it to research a topic and publish a paper on it. It also holds conferences and does research reports on its own. According to their official website, their areas of expertise are "running conferences", "conducting, publishing, and disseminating research", "economic trends", and "public policy issues". It is affiliated, but legally separate from, the U.S./international "The Conference Board, Inc. of New York".

      They state: "Objective and non-partisan. We do not lobby for specific interests."

      A "think tank" is just a group of non-experts who organize expert-produced information despite their lack of qualifications and understanding of the topics they discuss. They can dig up sources satisfactorily, but they get into serious trouble when they try to draw conclusions. Friends don't let friends believe a word written in a think tank.

      • "They can dig up sources satisfactorily"

        I thought the problem was that they DIDN'T cite their sources.
    • by Sockatume (732728)
      Everything but "objective" certainly sounds correct. On your description it sounds like they'll lobby for whatever you pay them to lobby for.
      • Everything but "objective" certainly sounds correct. On your description it sounds like they'll lobby for whatever you pay them to lobby for.

        Yup. That's my interpretation, too.

  • by whisper_jeff (680366) on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @11:21AM (#28095615)
    Dear Mrs Morissette,

    Please pay attention. This is ironic.

    Thank you.
    • And to the Ontario Government:
      It's like a free ride, when you've already paid.
  • by bhunachchicken (834243) on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @11:21AM (#28095621) Homepage

    ... the definition of irony :)

  • by ashitaka (27544) on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @11:22AM (#28095651) Homepage

    "...some of the cited paragraphs closely approximate the wording of a source document."

    Closely approximate???!! Hell, they're word-for-word copies right down to the bullet points. They are not in quotations so they aren't really citations.

    This really makes me sad because it shows an external corporate influence in Canada's affairs that would have Americans screaming if the reverse was true.

    • by nedlohs (1335013)

      Americans would scram if there was Canadian influence in the affairs of external corporations?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ashitaka (27544)

        Read it again.

        Americans would scream (yes, the 'e' is there) if Canadian corporate interests interfered with US internal matters.

        The reality, of course, is that they do as does corporations from all over the world. Suitable screaming thus ensues but nothing is really done.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      "...some of the binary files on my hard drive closely approximate the sound of a copyrighted song."

      Hey, after all, MP3 is lossy ...

  • Duh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jpmorgan (517966) on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @11:23AM (#28095679) Homepage

    You didn't expect them to actually work for their money, did you? Here's the way these things work: the government pays a lot of money to an organization for policy "consulting", so they can have a report which recommends doing what the lobbyists wanted them to do in the first place.

    The report is a foregone conclusion. The $15,000 is spent to passing the blame, not on any actual work, and for a politician, it's money well spent. You can't really blame the conference board for plagiarizing their report, usually nobody bothers reading those things anyway.

    It's great work if you can get it. You get to sit around, getting paid to accept blame for public policy. Except since you're just a private individual, there's no actual responsibility or consequences involved. Meanwhile, the politicians can point at you, defusing any potential scandal by claiming they're just doing as was recommended by the "experts" and if they made a mistake, well it was well intentioned and they did their best.

  • Crisis? What crisis? And they're hiring too!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Props Canada, you show those stupid american companies what being a pirate is all about!!

  • Sad but True (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hardwarejunkie9 (878942) on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @11:32AM (#28095813)
    This is the reason why we have to have very close fact-checking standards for legal and academic publishing. It's quite possible that if someone hadn't truly caught this then someone would be quoting this material as reliable information. It's actually quite frightening when you consider how much "reliable" material is out there that truly has basis neither in fact nor reality.
    • by swillden (191260)

      It's actually quite frightening when you consider how much "reliable" material is out there that truly has basis neither in fact nor reality.

      Is that fact reliable?

  • Incorrect Summary (Score:5, Informative)

    by ColonelBobo (934213) on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @11:39AM (#28095927)
    The summary is incorrect in that at this time, the Ontario Government has yet to seek answers into how the funds it provided were used. The questions posed are by Michael Geist as to what the Minister responsible should be asking.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      The likelihood of anyone doing anything about this is very low, however. After all, they're just going to claim it was an honest mistake and people will look away and pretend those tax dollars never existed. The problem with these governmental expert boards is that people often pour money into them to get a reputable title put on their agenda and there is little to no accountability in the entire process.
    • Re: Correct Summary (Score:5, Informative)

      by davecb (6526) * <davec-b@rogers.com> on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @11:56AM (#28096191) Homepage Journal
      Michael Geist writes: Update (5:15): Brian Jackson of IT Business reports that the Minister's office acknowledges spending $15,000 on the report. It plans to follow up on the issues raised in my post.
  • by FudRucker (866063) on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @11:49AM (#28096083)
    what if Canada gets sued for copyright infringement.
  • Like I always say (having borrowed the phrase from my former boss), "Why Improvise when you can plagiarize?"

    I am surprised this is even newsworthy. If the Canadians want to borrow phrases from other countries' current laws, then that should be simply a compliment to the originating country.
  • by QuoteMstr (55051) <dan.colascione@gmail.com> on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @12:03PM (#28096289)

    This is the kind of crap that results from a casual disregard for plagiarism in schools. It's awful here in the states, and I imagine just as bad in Canada. Copying that freshman assignment leads to copying conference reports later on in life. Any form of plagiarism is corrosive to real progress.

    • by Minwee (522556) <dcr@neverwhen.org> on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @12:51PM (#28096999) Homepage

      Copying that freshman assignment leads to copying conference reports later on in life.

      Actually, copying that freshman assignment _really_ pisses off the poor schmuck who has to grade it. Not only have you just insulted his (or her) intelligence by turning in something that was obviously cribbed from Wikipedia, but also instead of just spending a few minutes reading your paper, scribbling down a grade and then moving on to the next one he has to look up the original source that you copied from, have a chat with the professor in charge of the class, take time out of his day to have a meeting with you and explain exactly how dumb you just were, and then after wasting all that time dealing with your mess, decide whether or not to inform your department head and have you expelled for it.

      By that time the only two things keeping you in school at all are the fact that there's an awful lot of paperwork involved in having you expelled, and that your professor may still feel sorry for you. Your best bet is to admit everything, tell a mildly sad story about how you were running out of time and panicked, and then never do it again.

      Saying "No, you're wrong, I just forgot one citation but everything else is fine [conferenceboard.ca]" is not it.

      • by R2.0 (532027) on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @02:36PM (#28098587)

        "By that time the only two things keeping you in school at all are the fact that there's an awful lot of paperwork involved in having you expelled, and that your professor may still feel sorry for you. Your best bet is to admit everything, tell a mildly sad story about how you were running out of time and panicked, and then never do it again. "

        Right on, Brother!

        I used to grade homework assignments for an Intro to Practical Logic course, and about 1-2x/semester I'd find 2 assignments that were obviously the product of "collaboration" - and no, it was not encouraged. Typically, I'd be grading a stack and would come on a paper that was not only badly wrong, but idiosyncratically wrong - trains of logic that would take contorted paths to prove "A=-A". I'd grade it, pull the next one, and lo and behold there's the exact same train of convoluted logic. I'd grade that and then paperclip them together and give them to the professor with a note to the effect that I believe the students were cheating. And the consequences to the students were...nothing.

        Not a thing. Wasn't even mentioned to them. The professor basically didn't want to be bothered. Keep in mind that I only passed through the most flagrant examples - there were plenty I suspected (correct answers but word-for-word identical) but didn't pass through. I mean, Lord knows I wasn't a saint, but at least TRY to cover your tracks, please. Think of the graders!

        • by canajin56 (660655) on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @03:37PM (#28099589)
          For coding courses, all our code goes through electronic marking before it reaches the marker. Students know that the electronic marking is looking for cheaters. Given this, they think they can to a Replace All on variable names and get away with it. They can't. They also try to confuse it by putting what are essentially NOPs, like "x = x;" or "x = x + 0;" That might work (but it doesn't) but its certainly bizarre enough to get the attention of the human marker. But still, the instructors let is slide, it's a lot of paperwork, and always leads to parents threatening to sue, demanding their right to a fair trial, face their accuser, get a refund on tuition, etc.
  • by Nerdposeur (910128) on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @12:28PM (#28096643) Journal

    "We just realized we could produce more content by borrowing from and building on the work of others. Ow! C'mon, guys!"

  • That's ironic on so many levels. Canadians get all bent out of shape when your refer to Canada as "The Maple Leaf State" but this really just proves the point. It would seem the Canadian government is just as much in the pocket of US Corporations as the US government is. I predict absolutely no voter outrage on the subject.

    I'd wager the money and time allocated to the project were spent playing Team Fortress.

    • That's ironic on so many levels. Canadians get all bent out of shape when your refer to Canada as "The Maple Leaf State" but this really just proves the point. It would seem the Canadian government is just as much in the pocket of US Corporations as the US government is.

      How exactly was the Canadian government involved in this?

  • by psema4 (966801) on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @02:33PM (#28098527) Homepage Journal

    Additional information has come to light since the original posting. Some interesting blog posts from:

Murphy's Law, that brash proletarian restatement of Godel's Theorem. -- Thomas Pynchon, "Gravity's Rainbow"

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