News plagiarism sites run real stories through thesaurus to avoid detection, to hilarious effect

Jesselyn Cook noticed that a site called NewsBuzzr had ripped off one of her stories at Huffington Post. It turned out to be some kind of awful plagiarism bot that uses a thesaurus to avoid detection as duplicate content, resulting in hilariously mangled prose. Cook calls it "truly excellent “Florida Male” content" and I hope that term sticks.

The intro to my story, which describes a woman feeling an “urgent tap” on her shoulder, had been changed to say that she felt a “pressing faucet” instead. The term “sex videos” had become “intercourse movies,” and the quote “I was definitely shocked” had morphed into this nonsense: “I used to be indisputably surprised.” The entire piece had been altered, seemingly word-by-word, rendering some sentences far less coherent than others.

Humor aside, the scale of the scam is such that it makes real money, which it is ultimately depriving its victims of. There was a point about a decade ago where the number of sites scraping Boing Boing became uncountable, but sadly none of them turned our hard-driving coverage into magnetic storage delineations.

The screengrab above is from the NewsBuzzr-world's own science educator, "Invoice Nye the Science Man." Google has already banned NewsBuzzr from AdSense. Read the rest

High school student claims principal plagiarized Ashton Kutcher for graduation speech

(UPDATED BELOW)

Abby Smith, a graduating senior at West Virginia's Parkersburg High School, claims that her principal, Kenneth DeMoss, plagiarized his commencement speech from Ashton Kutcher's monologue at the 2013 Teen Choice Awards. She originally posted the video above on her Facebook page.

According to Yahoo Lifestyle, "the principal directed Yahoo Lifestyle to the district's superintendent, who did not immediately respond to requests for comment, A Google search for "best motivational speech for teens" yields Kutcher's 2013 speech as the second video result."

From Yahoo:

"So first, the opportunity," principal DeMoss said in the graduation ceremony video. "I believe that opportunity looks a lot like hard work. When I was a kid growing up, I didn't get paid to do chores. I had to do 'em. I had to run the vacuum cleaner, dust the house, clean my room, cut the grass. When I became 15, I had to get my first paid job working as a busboy, so I could pay for my own insurance to help drive my family car. I didn't have my own car, nor was I given one; the family had to share it. Then I got a job working as a waiter; then I got a job selling shoes at the mall, then I got a job being a laborer for a construction company carrying shingles up and down a ladder to a roof and cleaning up job sites. Sometimes I even did two jobs at once. At one point, I was juggling four part-time jobs, like going to college."

"And the greatest thing about that is that I never had a job, in my life that I was better than, that I was too good for," the principal continued in the speech delivered to graduates.

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Text-mining journalists find that lawmakers introduced 10,000 bills that were copypasted from lobbyists' "model legislation"

For two years, researchers from USA Today, The Arizona Republic and the Center for Public Integrity have been ingesting the bills introduced in all 50 state legislatures, yielding a corpus of more than 1,000,000 bills, and then consumed months of computer time on a large cluster, comparing these bills to "model legislation" promoted by lobbyists, using a text-mining engine that could identify paraphrases, synonyms, and other techniques used to file the serial numbers off of these bills. Read the rest

Samsung faked a smartphone portrait with a stock photo taken with a DSLR

Samsung's latest phones have a "portrait" mode that cleverly fakes the look of a shot taken with a fancy lens on a full-frame sensor. But a picture they used as an example in an ad turns out to be a stock photo taken with a high-end DLSR. Moreover, the photographer, Dunja Djudjic, has a blog and is currently murdering Samsung.

My first reaction was to burst out into laughter. Just look at the Photoshop job they did on my face and hair! I’ve always liked my natural hair color (even though it’s turning gray black and white), but I guess the creator of this franken-image prefers reddish tones. Except in the eyes though, where they removed all of the blood vessels.

Whoever created this image, they also cut me out of the original background and pasted me onto a random photo of a park. I mean, the original photo was taken at f/2.0 if I remember well, and they needed the “before” and “after” – a photo with a sharp background, and another one where the almighty “portrait mode” blurred it out. So Samsung’s Photoshop master resolved it by using a different background.

Huawei did exactly the same thing a while back. We wonder at the sheer stupidity of it, but I wonder if that's just confirmation bias, in that the stupid ones get caught.

Just think of all the plagiarism that's going to be exposed virtually overnight when someone turns the AIs loose on the problem. But also the false charges of such, generated by the normal and natural lines of influence and fair use it will also reveal. Read the rest

Game review plagiarist surprisingly prolific

Filip Miucin wrote many game reviews, but it took until last week for the rampant plagiarism in his work to be identified by a victim.

The gaming site IGN is working to remove all of the posts written by former editor Filip Miucin, who was fired last week for plagiarism, after internet sleuths found that dozens of his articles and videos copied or rephrased from other websites without attribution.

What's odd this time around? How hard it is to find words by him that aren't found elsewhere.

“We’ve seen enough now, both from the thread and our own searches, that we’re taking down pretty much everything he did,” IGN reviews editor Dan Stapleton wrote on Twitter last night, referring to a thread on the gaming forum ResetEra cataloging the allegations. For days, people had pointed out more similarities between Miucin’s work and various other articles and message board posts.

I don't think I've ever seen someone so dedicated to plagiarism as a daily grind, rather than as a shortcut around the content requirements of a speaking career, book deal or some other more illustrious publishing objective. Reheated is everything from forum posts at NeoGAF to blog comments, which might bolster Miucin's claim that the plagiarism was unconscious.

“The bottom line is that what happened with the Dead Cells review was not at all intentional,” he said. “So, with that said, I just want to apologize to everybody at IGN for all of the undeserved criticisms and doubt that may have been sparked in their credibility as a respected source for games media.”

On Tuesday night, a small YouTuber named Boomstick Gaming published a video with the title “IGN Copied my Dead Cells Review: What do I do?” In it, he laid out a compelling case that the official IGN review of Dead Cells, written by Miucin, was a rewritten version of his own review, which had been published several days earlier.

Read the rest

Topman plagiarizes designer, promises to stop, doesn't stop

Stefan Lawrence is a much-loved designer whose work graces such Maximum Fun podcasts as Judge John Hodgman and Bullseye, noticed that the "fast-fashion" brand Topman (a division of the notorious slavers Topshop) had ripped off one of his designs and used it without license or credit in a bunch of its products. Read the rest

French far-right leader Le Pen plagiarized opponent's speech

Marine Le Pen, leader of France's nationalist movement and one of two candidates remaining in the country's presidential race, is a plagiarist—or at least one of her speechwriters is. The BBC reports that a speech of hers "seems to repeat one by beaten rival François Fillon" all but word-for-word.

• Mr Fillon's speech: "Then there is the Rhine frontier, the most open, the most dangerous, also the most promising - a Germanic world we have been so often in conflict with and with which we will yet co-operate in so many ways" Ms Le Pen's speech: "Then there is the Rhine frontier, the most open, also the most promising - a Germanic world we will yet co-operate with in so many ways, as long as we regain the relationship of allies and not of subjects"

• Both speeches refer to "waiting lists for the Alliance Française in Shanghai, Tokyo, or Mexico, for the French secondary school in Rabat or Rome"

• Both speeches quote World War One PM Georges Clemenceau, saying: "Once a soldier of God, and now a soldier of Liberty, France will always be the soldier of the ideal"

• Mr Fillon's speech: "France, as I have said, is a history, it is a geography, but it is also a set of values ​​and principles transmitted from generation to generation, as passwords. It is finally a singular voice addressed to all the peoples of the universe" Ms Le Pen's speech: "France is also a set of values and principles transmitted from generation to generation, as passwords.

Read the rest

Universities fought unionization's 'one-size-fits-all' using identical arguments

The National Labor Relations Board has ruled that grad students working at private universities can form unions, something that the universities themselves have fought tooth-and-nail for years, with elite universities posted FAQs explaining why trade unionism was a bad match for academic institutions: that each academic institution was unique, and so unlike any other place, that collective bargaining just couldn't work. Read the rest

Trump's dumbest son claims Barack Obama plagiarized him

President Obama, in his speech at the DNC, used the phrase "That is not the America I know." Donald Trump Jr. claims this was plagiarism, as he had used the same line in a speech he delivered last week. Read the rest

Plagiarism detection app vs Russia's elites: 1-2 fake PhDs discovered every day

Dissernet, a leaderless collective of Russian scientists and journalists scrapes the doctoral dissertations of Russian elites -- who have been attaining advanced degrees at an unprecedented rate -- runs them through plagiarism detection software to flag probable frauds for human review, and publishes the names of officials who've been caught cheating, one or two every day. Read the rest

Is Amy Schumer a serial joke thief? Video compilation compares clips, side by side

This video is pretty rabid Reddit rage-fodder today.

Certainly, selective video edits by someone with a point to make can be damning where nothing wrong has been done, but--come on. This looks pretty bad.

[From Brandon Farley (MischiefMaker37), YouTube » Reddit]

Looks like there are a bunch of these newly out, via Reddit. But it's been brewing for weeks, or months, really. Vox has a good explainer here. I am not the comedy police, so I do not know.

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Novel plagiarist gender-swapped heroine to create gay romance

A plagiarist was caught after eagle-eyed readers spotted the novel Coming Home Texas was nearly identical to My Kind of Trouble, by New York Times bestseller Becky McGraw.

Author Laura Harner's trick, allegedly, was to change a heterosexual romance to a gay male one—hoping, perhaps, that the lack of overlap between the two audiences would be enough to escape notice.

In the age of book search, though, that's not how these things go down: despite changing words, ages, names and descriptors, even the most superficial comparison demonstrates the lifting.

In one scene, "Since she’d gotten the call from Imelda, the closest thing to a mother that Cassie had known since her own mother died when she was ten" becomes "Since he’d gotten the call from Isabella – the closest thing to a mother that he’d known since his own mom died when he was nine."

The Guardian's Alison Flood reports that legal action is pending, and that the plagiarist has admitted mistakes were made. The astonishing speed at which Harner's novels are published suggests many more of them may have been made.

“Her book was almost a word-for-word, scene-for-scene duplication of my book, except the characters’ names had been changed, and short M/M love scenes had been inserted,” said McGraw. “The only scene she didn’t include was the epilogue, which couldn’t be altered to an M/M scene. It involved the heroine in labour and the hero having sympathetic labour pains.”

In a better world, we learned of this because the final birth scene had remained in the plagiarized M/M version of the story. Read the rest

Japan pulls Olympics logo under accusations of design plagiarism

"Let's put a red dot here and call it a day." [via] Read the rest

Twitter joke thieves are getting DMCA takedowns

Among professional comedians, joke theft is no joke. Now Twitter is allowing members to use DMCA notices to take down tweets posted by accounts that copy and paste them without attribution. PlagiarismBad's name-and-shame campaign has already netted a few celebrities. Read the rest

Who is Shia LaBeouf plagiarizing this time: rap group Anomolies

Remember when Shia LaBeouf plagiarized a Daniel Clowes comic book story almost word-for-word and made a short film about it? When he was found out, he tweeted a series of apologies, which turned out to be plagiarized, too. I interview Clowes at Meltdown comic in Hollywood last month and I asked him for an update about his experience with the serial plagiary. Here's the video, queued up to part in the interview where he talked about it:

Clowes explained that LaBeouf had powerful "motherfucker" lawyers who would have ground Clowes into hamburger, had Clowes not had his own motherfuckers to make sure LaBeouf paid Clowes for using his work without permission.

A few days ago LaBeouf released a video demonstrating his freelance rap skills. But it didn't take long for the original lyricist to come forth:

The NY Daily News reports:

Rap group Anomolies called LaBeouf out on Instagram, claiming that his flow comes from their song "Perfectionist," which was written in 1999.

"You can't rip songs from my ANOMOLIES crew, recite them in a freestyle as your own, get credit for it, then not expect to be called out by ACTUAL MCs!" the post stated.

From Watch Loud:

At the the 2:23 mark in his video LaBeouf hushes the crowd and says “The rare commodity, the quality is what it’s gotta be, and my philosophy is farther than what your eyes can see.”

However, on the 1999 track “Perfectionist” you can clearly hear Helixx spit at the 45 second mark, “I recon you want more of that rare commodity/the quality is what it’s gotta be/ and my philosophy is much farther than what your eyes can see.”

Later on in their track you can hear the “Gas mask/last laugh” punchline as well.

Read the rest

Art swipeur Cody Foster & Co wanted alleged victim to submit to gag order and delete complaints

Cody Foster & Co is an art-swiping tchotcke maker, used by big retailers to source fashionable cloneware they want to sell. Accused last year of ripping off a batch of independent designers, Cody Foster wanted to settle. Fast Company's John Brownlee reports the incredible conditions they want to impose on the victim.

Cody Foster's conditions? That the independent designer accusing the company of piracy license her designs to Cody Foster & Co. for $650 and submit to a gag order, deleting any complaints about the company from the web. ... Smith and her attorneys initially declined the offer, indicating that $650 was not worth a gag order on what they had been through, and reached out to Co.Design. Since then, Cody Foster's attorneys have indicated that they are willing to discuss a larger payment in exchange for licensing Smith's designs. As of publication, this remains unresolved.

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Daily Mail plagiarism surprises few

It's easy to spot the superficial rewriting of others' work when they're lists and you haven't changed so much as a single item. [TNW] Previously. Read the rest

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