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December 18

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Amos Lassen Responds to Plagiarism Allegations, Sort Of.

by Ann-Katrina

After writing an expose-esque post on Amos Lassen, a former Amazon Top 50 reviewer who habitually plagiarised his reviews, Lassen offered a response, sort of.

[The people involved] consider themselves to be “policeman of the net. Whatever their reason for their actions may be, it appears that destroying another person makes them look good in some way. The strange thing is that several of them are not even ready to disclose their true identities and hide behind fake names and profiles. This action was begun by another reviewer, E. Jacobs (whose real name is Erin Elway) and she enlisted a group of “Amazonians” to help her reach gold. She enlisted a Jason Kirkfield, a very bitter and outspoken children’s book reviewer with a poisoned tongue, a Barbara Barclay who revealed herself when she and Elway wrote disgusting self-righteous letters to Lambda Literary about me, two characters under the names of Muzzlehatch and Truthseeker, an African American, John Green, who was enlisted to accuse me of racial slurs (I used the words ape and gorilla in a review and was accused of racism), venomous Timothy Riley, another top ten reviewer, then there are Theo and Terry, the acid tongued “avoraciousreader”, Gary Peterson, Lynn E. Lisa Mims, the recently added two days ago, Ann-Kat, J. Faulk, L. Power, tweekster and several others. You cannot imagine the way they speak. They claim that I have made death threats against them, they are planning to issue restraining orders against me, they have written to authors and publishing houses and have contacted work places claiming to be representatives of Amazon.com and released information that they had to right to know on the internet. Jason Kirkfield sees himself as a Christ figure and he is evil in speech and in deed but he has a great supporting cast.
While my profile page was posted several years ago, they chose to contact my former employers. What is so interesting is that this seems to be a 24 hour job for them. Kirkfield, for example, posted news of this blog at 1:47 AM and the author put it on the net at just 12:22 AM. They scour the net, etc. looking for news of me. I cannot imagine what a lonely life that must be.

Comment by Amos Lassen dated December 12, 2010, 10:05AM

I attempted to leave a response there directly, but each time the comment was deleted, so I’ve decided to publish it here. It also seems someone was trying to break into my Gmail account—read into that what you will.

I’d like to address a few things specifically since Mr. Lassen saw fit to invoke my name.

Prior to his statement, I made only a whopping total of three posts to the Amazon forum thread concerning the matter (here, here, and here), the third of which linked people to the blog entry where I had compiled documentation of his plagiarism.

Anyone is free to see exactly the way I speak, no imagining necessary, since that Amazon thread and my blog are freely available to the public and I’ve never contacted Lassen directly by email, phone, or post. (I’ve since made additional comments on the Amazon forum thread and at the Jesse Wave blog, but those are also public, therefore free for anyone to read.)

Quote Lassen: "They claim that I have made death threats against them,"

No, I haven’t.

Quote Lassen: "they are planning to issue restraining orders against me,"

No, I’m not. At least not unless you decide to threaten my life, livelihood, or well-being in some way.

Quote Lassen: "they have written to authors and publishing houses and have contacted work places claiming to be representatives of Amazon.com"

No, I haven’t.

Quote Lassen: "and released information that they had to right to know on the internet."

I’m not entirely sure what that means, but I’m going to assume Lassen means the release of information that people had no right to know, and in response: No, I haven’t.

All the information published on my blog is information that was freely accessible in public venues on the internet to begin with, such as Amazon.com, Google cache, and Facebook.

Unfortunately Amazon closed the "at least one comment" loophole for Lassen’s reviews. Still, there’s at least one other transgression that Amazon overlooked in their mass deletion because Lassen "hit the wrong button". To make it even more convenient, all the plagiarised sources are visible on that page. (Hint, check the product description and compare it to Lassen’s first paragraph, then read the second paragraph of Mr. Tatham’s review, written ten days before Lassen’s.)

Why he felt the need to include my name at all is beyond me. But it gets better because Lassen made another comment responding directly to me (for context, here’s my original comment):

what saddens me is that you have no idea of what you are talking about and of course I disagree–you are a late comer and your information was fed to you by these people and then you went and did your research.
And Ann-Kat, the review of "I Spit On Your Grave" came two months of constant harassment from these people and it was the way I lashed back. I do not believe that you would have taken the abuse and taunts that I took as many as 20 times on a daily basis and it was ok for Kirkfield to go to my employer as a representative of Amazon and post his findings? I wonder how you would have reacted. I doubt you would have reacted the way Lambda Literary reacted (ignoring and wondering who these people were) when Erin Elway and Barbara Barclay overstepped all bounds by writing letters and saying how much they respected the organization. Give me a break–these are cutthroat and ruthless people who wanted a crucifixion and would do whatever it took to get it. Sure I lashed out bit how much is one person to take? Mea culpa? No way. And what about the letters they wrote to universities and publishing houses? And what about the smear campaign? You weren’t there, you came in three or four days ago with your self-righteousness and as you say, you don’t know me–you only know what these people have presented you with. They gave you the leads and you followed. I would love to see how you would have reacted. They overstepped every boundary of humanity. And have you noticed, Jason Kirkfield has nothing to say nor does E. Jacobs who admitted herself that this has gone too far. Since you mean to keep it going, so do I–just not here. You have new friends now–watch how they play ball and be careful, do not cross them.

This is my final comment–the show is all yours now

Comment by Amos Lassen dated December 14, 2010 11:45PM

Again I’ve been having problems publishing a response on that blog, so again, I publish it here.

You are right, Mr. Lassen. I did my research. It doesn’t matter what was "fed to [me]" because I won’t eat anything unless I’ve smelt it first and I truly hoped that this whole thing was just a big misunderstanding.

I read every single post in that entire thread, I read every post on the Facebook fan page, and I even used Google cache and the Internet Archive when available.

And the result of that research was that you did, in fact, lift sections of content from other copyrighted sources to pad your own reviews. It wasn’t just once or twice or a few times. (Yes, I went through and checked links and cross-referenced them with the Amazon reviews still visible using the show reviews by comments link on Amazon.)

And I’ve yet to see you refute it. You talk around the issue with no explanations. You refuse to publish the Amazon forum link on your Facebook page or provide your supporters with the means to do their own research.

I’ve seen a few ask already where the quotes you post come from, why these people are doing what they’re doing, etc., and they receive no answers except more deflection. I’ve even seen a few of those posts disappear. In fact, you only seem to feed them a one-sided view of the story and you come out looking the victim.

Sure they may have badgered you for months (I’ll admit, I’ve seen some not-nice comments made about you and on some of your reviews thanks to Google cache) and you have every right to stand up for yourself, but you had opportunities to rise above it rather than stoop to their level (actually, in my opinion, far below it by some of the insults I’ve seen you throw around, and in such a public medium no less).

But, the issue was not whether these people harassed you or whether you harassed them, the issue was whether or not you plagiarised some of your reviews.

This is your online legacy, Mr. Lassen, this is the statement you’re making about yourself and your integrity. Only one question remains: Are you proud of this legacy?

I may be a late comer, but that means I’m able to gauge the situation without bias, removed from both you and your Amazon detractors. I have nothing to gain or lose from your undoing or your vindication. Consider that.

I’m not being self-righteous, just pointing out the situation as I see it. This entire mess could have been avoided had you not copied those other reviews in the first place (or even properly edited them after the fact).

By the way, I invite you and your supporters to visit my blog on the subject and point out anything you believe I got wrong in the write up. I do allow comments from both sides of this argument as long as they’re cordial, non-threatening, and the language is kept clean.

Since this whole fiasco makes me tired, and Mr. Lassen only speaks in circles, I’m done commenting unless Mr. Lassen cares to directly address the documentation I’ve published—perhaps point out anything that’s incorrect or actually refute the allegations of plagiarism.

Until then, let this be a cautionary tale to other reviewers. Learn from Lassen’s mistake: Don’t plagiarise no matter how tempted you are. It will make the original author unhappy and it will eventually make your legs tired from all the backpedaling you’ll be required to do.

Learn the right and wrong ways to use someone else’s words in your review. Right: explain why you’re including an excerpt of someone else’s review and give him credit (i.e. fair use). Wrong: copying and pasting without context or credit.

Comments on Amos Lassen Responds to Plagiarism Allegations, Sort Of.

  1. # Amos Lassen Admits Plagiarism, Calls it Paraphrasing wrote on December 29, 2010 at 6:17 pm:

    [...] 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? [...]

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