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December 29

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Amos Lassen Admits Plagiarism, Calls it Paraphrasing

by Ann-Katrina

If you’re new to the Amos Lassen plagiarism scandal, I’d recommend reading Amos Lassen Falls from Grace, then Amos Lassen responds to Plagiarism Allegations, and then come back here. Up to speed? Cool.

I mentioned that I wouldn’t comment on the subject further unless Lassen offered a proper response to the plagiarism allegations and he did. In fact, he published a pseudo-defense on his blog—which ended with this lovely observation: “One man’s paraphrasing is another man’s plagiarism.”—but deleted it within 24 hours. Too bad it wasn’t faster than Google cache.

amos-lassen-responds (Click image for full-sized view.)

And if you’re in the camp who believes I’ve somehow Photoshopped the screen capture, you can see Lassen’s words in all their glory by visiting Paul G. Bens, Jr’s blog where Lassen left this same defense. (I also urge you to read Mr. Bens’ cogent response.)

Basically, in a roundabout way, Lassen admits to plagiarising some of his reviews but says that it’s all right because the original authors didn’t lose income, that he did not plagiarise all of his reviews and that the GLBT/Jewish artistic/literary works needed an advocate at all costs, including integrity.

Now, a few comments:

  • Plagiarism, period, is wrong.
  • Lassen did violate the copyrights of various sources from which he plagiarised, including the other Amazon reviewers*, which is why Amazon nuked all his reviews**.
  • There was a net loss to the author, even if it was merely recognition for his work, but also in tangible goods since Lassen received review copies, at least in part, due to his reviewing history.
  • As Mr. Bens, a GLBT author, pointed out, this has absolutely nothing to do with the GLBT community and has everything to do with Lassen’s plagiary. This could actually be harming the GLBT community because those who’ve suffered a genuine slight may find it more difficult to get support for their cause.
  • Finally, there is a huge difference between paraphrasing, with attribution, and copy+pasting someone else’s work, then calling it your own.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: The GLBT and Jewish artistic/literary communities need advocates who aren’t willing to sell their souls for some free swag, people who are willing to provide genuine reviews. And they must be out there, otherwise, from whom could Lassen have plagiarised?

* Some believe that once a review is published on Amazon.com, the author relinquishes the copyright. Not accurate. The author still retains his copyright, however, the author grants Amazon.com a whole lot of leverage to  use, store, and display the review however Amazon.com sees fit.

** No one that I’ve seen claims all 3,000+ reviews were plagiarised, however, it would take far too much manpower to read/compare every single one, especially since a preponderance of them displayed signs of plagiary and the problem was habitual.

Comments on Amos Lassen Admits Plagiarism, Calls it Paraphrasing

  1. # The Girl from the Ghetto wrote on January 3, 2011 at 1:51 am:

    Wowza! I hadn’t heard about this scandel, so thanks for sharing it. Why would anyone paraphrase book reivews … unless they weren’t reading the books themselves, I suppose?

    I’m impressed Amazon pulled all of his reviews, although I can see how this would hurt the authors. Such a shame.
    .-= The Girl from the Ghetto´s last blog ..2010- My Story Told In Photographs =-.

  2. # Amos Lassen wrote on April 10, 2011 at 9:06 pm:

    I have admitted nothing. Ann Kat dreams.

  3. # Ann-Kat wrote on April 10, 2011 at 9:14 pm:

    So you deny those are your words, Mr. Lassen? That you posted that blog entry? That you left that comment on Mr. Bens’ entry?

    It certainly has taken you long enough to respond, however weak the response. You’d probably be better served reading and responding to the original post on this whole matter.

    Or, you’d probably be best served just letting this particular dead horse stay dead.

  4. # John Green wrote on April 23, 2011 at 4:27 pm:

    Paul Bens’ LJ account has been deleted. Did you cache the entry?

  5. # Ann-Kat wrote on April 23, 2011 at 5:21 pm:

    Thank you for the head’s up, John. Yes, I do have a screen capture of the blog entry and for the time being, others can have a look via Google cache (until the blog is eventually purged from Google’s index).

  6. # Brent Butler wrote on June 9, 2011 at 9:44 pm:

    I came in on the Amazon thread about AL’s plagiarism late, but I was interested to see how deep it ran. I picked 10 AL reviews at random from throughout his Amazon history. For every one of those 10 reviews, a simple Google search of a sentence that looked as though it should be unique found that the review originated from another source with a date prior to AL posting on Amazon. With that kind of result, the odds that that vast majority of his reviews would be clean are infinitesimal. The gentleman in Amazon’s review community who carried the main load of the research found dozens of plagiarized reviews.

    Amazon doesn’t take the action they did at the mere suggestion that a review here or there was copied from somewhere else. They did their own check and then decided it was appropriate to delete everything. That suggests that Amazon had no confidence that ANYTHING posted on their site by AL was clean, or that if anything, any original reviews of his were so few to bother trying to find them.

    AL literally defrauded EVERY author who sent him a review copy and in turn received a plagiarized review. AL did them no favors. He claims to be a voice for the gay community. That voice is merely an echo.

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