Book Reviews by Today, I Read…

A Continuous Book Review and Vocabulary Assignment

December 29

Comments: 6

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.

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December 18

Comments: 1

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. Continue reading »

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December 14

Comments: 32

Amos Lassen Falls From Grace, When Reviewers Attack

by Ann-Katrina

monkey-with-gun So often we hear of authors behaving badly. They’ll get a critical review and rampage throughout the comments section of the Amazon product page. (I’m looking at you Candace Sams.) But rarely do we hear of the reviewers behaving badly.

Recently, on the Amazon forums, I saw a thread titled “Plagiarism in a review?” This caught my attention because I, too, had been plagiarised by an Amazon reviewer. But before I could chip my two cents in, I was swept up on the roller coaster ride of reviewer infamy.

Back in November, reviewers discussed having been plagiarised by a certain individual, and two and two eventually added up to Amos Lassen, a well-known (former) Top 50 Amazon reviewer.

When the discussion started, it was merely a glowing ember, but now it’s a raging inferno. What was the fuel? A threatening email from Lassen in response to a request that he remove the infringing work from his review; shortly after, a Facebook fan page supporting Lassen went up with negative comments directed at those writing on the Amazon forum thread.

If you’re not inclined to read through all thirty-something pages of the thread, then I’d direct you to pages 22, 24, 26, 29, 30, and 32 where posters published side-by-side comparisons of Lassen’s reviews with their original sources. If even reading those pages seems like too much work, allow me to highlight a few transgressions. Continue reading »

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