Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Tax-payer funded Plagiarism

Michael Geist spots and Boing Boing pounces on, the Conference Board of Canada taking $15,000 in tax-payers money - to copy and paste a US recording industry report on copyright and claim it as their own.
The Conference Board of Canada has issued a response to my posting on its Digital Economy report. The organization defends the report, arguing that there was only one case of a missed citation (which it has corrected) and acknowledging that "some of the cited paragraphs closely approximate the wording of a source document." It claims that it conducted a full review of the various arguments and included "those arguments considered most relevant to the policy under review." Since this is contract research funded by the copyright lobby groups and the Ontario government, the Conference Board refuses to disclose the terms of the contract.

Leaving aside the fact that all the most relevant arguments just happen to come from a U.S. lobby group with direct links to the funders of the Digital Economy report, the Conference Board of Canada has failed to understand the rules associated with plagiarism as a sprinkling of citations is simply not good enough. As the University of Ottawa's plagiarism guidelines (which are mirrored in academic institutions around the world) note "if you use someone else's words, data, etc., use quotation marks and give a complete reference." The Digital Economy report repeatedly used the same or very similar wording to the IIPA document and does not use quotations. Moreover, my posting cited to factual errors contained within the report and the press release. For example, the Conference Board claimed that the OECD concluded that Canada is the world's file sharing capital on a per capita basis. This is simply false as anyone who reads the OECD report will find that it did not reach that conclusion. Nevertheless, the Conference Board has chosen not to respond to this issue.
Leaving aside the irony of a stolen defense of strict copyright laws, how do you like your tax dollars paying for false statistics about Canadian file-sharing in an effort to reduce your digital rights?

UPDATE: Days after the Conference Board Report was revealed to be riddled with inaccuracies and blatant plagiarism CanWest reports on it - without ever mentioning any of this.

UPDATE 2 - May 28: The Conference Board of Canada washes their hands of the disgraced report.

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