Friday, February 18, 2011

Is Proquest Guilty of Copyright Infringement?

The record shows that many Ohio University professors are willing to approve theses and dissertations containing plagiarism. However, we also know that authors who had their work stolen may choose to hold cheating students accountable. For example, plagiarizing cost Elisabeth Nixon at least $10,000.

But what about the organizations that publish and sell works containing plagiarism? For example, Proquest offers for sale an OU dissertation for up to $75.00 even though the dissertation contains pages of plagiarized material. You can see some of the plagiarism here. You can see one of the original sources here and the other source here. I even have an email from one of the true authors confirming that his work was stolen. He wrote to me in July 2009: "I went over the section 1.6 Vascular aging part of the dissertation ( page 36-37), and found that the entire section was copied verbatim right out of our paper." He also wrote: "I strongly feel that plagiarism in any form should not be allowed in academia, and that appropriate actions should be taken by the school as well as the faculty as a whole."

It's been well over a year since evidence of plagiarism in the OU dissertation has been exposed; yet, it is still offered for sale. Can Proquest be sued for copyright infringement?

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Who Pays for Ohio University's Stupidity?

Who will pay damages and legal fees to Dr. Gunasekera now that he has won his federal case against OU, Dean Irwin and Provost Krendl?

I was reading through some of the court documents for Dr. Gunasekera's federal lawsuit against Ohio University, Dean Irwin, and Provost Krendl. Last fall Dr. Gunasekera asked for OU to pay his attorney fees since he successfully proved that OU should have given him a name clearing hearing.

I don't know the exact amount OU will ultimately have to pay but Dr. Gunasekera told the court since June 2006 he has "spent over $130,000 in legal fees and costs in litigating my cases against Ohio University, Dean Irwin, and former Provost Krendl." And it's not over yet; the jury trial to determine damages starts on April 25, 2011. Also, we don't know how much OU and the Attorney General has spent in unsuccessfully defending themselves.

So I ask, who pays for OU's costly blunders? I doubt if it comes out of Dean Irwin's or Provost Krendl's pockets. Do students pay? Does the money come out of donations? Do taxpayers pay? I think it is important for everyone to know especially when OU is having so many financial difficulties.

I can't help but notice the irony in the fact that Dean Irwin wound up in court on the losing end; when back at the very beginning of this whole thing (summer 2004) he was so arrogant that he threatened me with court action when I offered information about plagiarism. I should also point out how quick he snapped me with his threat; it was almost as though it was a regular occurrence for him.

John Burns, OU's former Director of Legal Affairs, was right when he wrote in reference to my ordeal: "Ohio University's academic administration and those then serving as media relations personnel did not handle these "accusations" well, mostly by issuing denials and criticizing the graduate student, which of course caused further problems later." You can read John Burns' report here:

Unfortunately, John Burns left out that I was threatened and retaliated against (when Jerrel Mitchell failed to process my application for the PhD program). Also, please note that John Burns was wrong when he wrote that I contacted "former graduate students accusing them of plagiarism in their master's theses and dissertations." That is 100% untrue and I have no idea why he thinks that I contacted and accused students. He is right about the others I contacted, and I will add that I contacted authors who had their work stolen; but, I challenge anyone to show me evidence that I accused former students directly.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Student Plagiarist Ordered to Pay $15,000 for Copyright Infringement

Last summer I wrote a couple blog posts about a graduate of The Ohio State University whose PhD was revoked after the discovery of plagiarism in her dissertation. (Click here to read the first blog and click here to go to second one). In addition to being asked to give her diploma back, she was sued for copyright infringement by the author whose work she stole. The lawsuit was settled, and last December, a judge ordered the plagiarist to pay $15,000 to the plaintiff.

The case is Montana C. Miller v. Elisabeth Nixon, Case No. : 2:10-cv-0759 In the United States District Court Southern District of Ohio Eastern Division.

It will be interesting to see if any copyright infringement lawsuits are filed against OU graduates. I wonder if OU personnel could be named as defendants since many professors have pronounced their belief that copying in the introduction or literature review is no big deal.

The following was added on Feb 6, 2011:

Yesterday, the Columbus Dispatch published an article about the lawsuit.