Don’t forget to buy your fireworks. Here’s an early July collection of news about books, ebooks, file-sharing, lawsuits, plagiarism, and more.
- Chris Anderson, editor-in-chief of Wired and author of The Long Tail and Free, is the latest established writer to get flat busted for plagiarism, after a reviewer found long uncited passages from Wikipedia in his new book Free. Anderson quickly admitted the errors and apologized, with the usual line that he meant to attribute the passages and messed up somehow. Something still stinks about this. Wikipedia isn’t an appropriate source to use in a freshman comp class, let alone a book. However, since Free “is another examination of how digital technology is changing life and business,” according to the Guardian‘s gushing review, it’s quite possible that Anderson used Wikipedia as an example of free information. But in that case, it seems like the passages would have been easier to find and attribute in his “eleventh hour” citation bonanza, because they would have had big “here’s another Wikipedia entry” intros. Something stinks.
- Alice Hoffman is another writer in trouble, after she lashed out, via Twitter, at Roberta Silman, who wrote a mixed review of Hoffman’s novel, The Story Sisters, in the the Boston Globe. Hoffman didn’t just call Silman “a moron,” she actually posted Silman’s phone number and email address, and encouraged fans to harrass her. This caused, not surprisingly, quite a stir (read GalleyCat’s roundup of the reactions here), and Hoffman later apologized, kind of, saying, “I feel this whole situation has been completely blown out of proportion.” Hmm, seems like posting a reviewer’s phone number and siccing your fans on her is fairly out of proportion itself. I’m writing a post about this that will go up tomorrow.
- In file-sharing, legal, and copyright news, a plethora of developments. “Scareware scammers” have been ordered to pay $100,000 for programs that made people think they had viruses and then “fixed” them; a system that sounds uncomfortably close to this automatic copyright protection BS. The Pirate Bay doesn’t get a retrial and in fact has been sold. File hosting website RapidShare lost a big case and has been ordered to filter their files. Amazon threatens California lawmakers over a potential online sales tax; they’ve followed through on such threats in Rhode Island and North Carolina. Meanwhile, blind advocacy groups sue to keep Kindle DXs out of Arizona State. And, a backlash against the $1.92M Thomas-Rasset file-sharing verdict. I’m reading all these lawsuits—and the difficulty of predicting how judges will determine their outcomes—as the growing pains of the still-nascent digital media world. It’s pretty clear that we still haven’t figured out how everything’s going to shake out in this great, big Internet, which is simultaneously comforting and disturbing.
- Quick takes: Jacket Copy has a great piece about John Barth’s 1957 novel, The Floating Opera; here’s a piece in Slate about the upcoming potential golden age of journalism; libraries are now using Twitter, at least in England; should authors be used as selling tools?; on the ethics of product reviews; the benefits of Kindle’s “uni-tasking”; and, just a taste of the kerfuffle about Murakami’s new novel.
- Random of the week: It’s not entirely random actually: Werner Herzog, the director of Grizzly Man and Rescue Dawn, is publishing the journals he kept during the famously perilous filming of Fitzcarraldo. They should be awesome. Herzog was effortlessly poetic and insightful in the documentary about the filming, Burden of Dreams. Do yourself a favor and watch the best part right now: here’s a YouTube clip from Burden featuring Herzog’s four-minute spine-chilling rant about the power and saveagery of the jungle.