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Blogger vs. newspaper war: Is this plagiarism?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Flash, Aug 21, 2010.

  1. Flash

    Flash Member

    Reader's Digest version:

    1. Blogger finds interesting news note on European news site
    2. Blogger uses Google Translate to produce piece for a post
    3. Newspaper following blog runs story citing original piece from Euro news site
    4. Blogger accuses newspaper of directly copying translated quotes and, thus, plagiarism

    Here's an email exchange between said blogger and said newspaper:


    Is it plagiarism?
  2. deskslave

    deskslave Active Member

    He didn't translate the quotes; Google did. It sounds like the newspaper ran the quotes through Google Translate itself, so there's not even any direct copying of the translated quotes, not that it would matter if there were. The blogger can't copyright a Google Translate version of someone else's work, and you can't copyright finding a link, either.

    That said, by the way, I'd be hesitant to run a story based on Google Translate. It's a useful tool, but it's far from perfect. In fact, I had a story the other day that relied on a Google translation of a headline. It translated a foreign unit of currency as "dollars." Not good. 100 of said foreign currency very much does not make 100 dollars.
  3. EagleMorph

    EagleMorph Member

    I'm going to say no.

    The blogger doesn't have the rights to the translated quote, as it can be translated via any source. Considering the most popular online translator is Google's, the translated quote is obviously going to be the same if both the newspaper and the blog use it.

    Even if the newspaper copied the quote from the blog, and then used Google Translator to double check the translation, found it was correct, and kept the copied quote, as long as they attributed it to the original European news agency, they're fine.

    If the newspaper had taken other information that was available only at the blog, then there'd be an issue. If the blog had the quote from a magazine that wasn't online, then there'd be an issue. But the original European article plus a common translation was available. Not plagiarism.
  4. PCLoadLetter

    PCLoadLetter Well-Known Member

    No. There is no "first dibs" clause in plagiarism. The fact that the blogger found the source article fist hardly gives him a right to claim it.
  5. Flash

    Flash Member

    Is anybody going to laugh if I suggest the newspaper should have hired a professional translator, given the tenuous issues of Google Translate as deskslave pointed out?
  6. PCLoadLetter

    PCLoadLetter Well-Known Member

    In theory, I would agree.

    In practical application, hard to imagine there's a paper that will eat that expense, no matter how minimal, for something like this.
  7. Smash Williams

    Smash Williams Well-Known Member

    I agree it's not plagiarism. If you can find and verify the original quote and translation yourself, then you credit the original source of the quote only, not the place that pointed you in that direction.

    That said, say there's a blog that did its own translation of a quote that does not match TehGoogle's translation, and the blog's translation reads significantly better. If you as a writer want to use that translation, do you need to credit the blog in that case?

    When I use a teammate to translate for me, I always add the caveat "said through a translator," though I don't always name the translator. Using that logic, you wouldn't need to name the blog in the second case, but I'm not sure that sits right with me.
  8. crusoes

    crusoes Active Member

    I think bloggers screaming plagiarism is hilarious.
  9. TheMethod

    TheMethod Member

    I read the exchange and I don't see how the blogger could think the newspaper was trying to represent someone else's work as its own. It credited the source. That's the end of the story.
  10. Brian Cook

    Brian Cook Member

    It's not plagiarism, but it is rude since chances are the newspaper found the story on the blog and failed to mention it. Happens to me not infrequently. Newspapers try as hard as possible to pretend competitors don't exist.
  11. Ironically, it was the blogger who had a human translate the quotes. The crux of his argument is that the newspaper's quotes are identical to the bloggers, even though the newspaper claims it used Google translator.
  12. SportsDude

    SportsDude Active Member

    No shit.
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