Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Harvard Novelist Plagiarizes, Gets $500,000

a 19-year-old harvard student plagiarizes and received $500,000 to do it! she got the payment in a two-book deal. she didn't stop at lifting paragraphs. apparently, the plot of her so-called chick-lit book wasn't much different than the author's she stole from.

the student author claims that she loved the author's work so much that she absorbed the language. she said that she was unconscious. i would think that she would have to be. otherwise why would she do it? plagiarists always get caught.

i could see how it might happen. it's like watching a movie you love over and over and then being able to recite the words verbatim and then driving everyone in your life nuts with your movie language.

but for $500,000, her work should be beyond original, including the plot. that's big money in the publishing industry. it must be one of the perks of attending harvard.

harvard's newspaper, the crimson, writes about it. here, the crimson compares the similarities side by side. it's striking how grossly lazy the author was in her writing. only the names have been changed. remarkable that it was published.

here's an earlier story from the crimson
this from the NYT
April 25, 2006
Harvard Novelist Says Copying Was Unintentional

Kaavya Viswanathan, the Harvard sophomore accused of plagiarizing parts of her recently published chick-lit novel, acknowledged yesterday that she had borrowed language from another writer's books, but called the copying "unintentional and unconscious."

The book, "How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild and Got a Life," was recently published by Little, Brown to wide publicity. On Sunday, The Harvard Crimson reported that Ms. Viswanathan, who received $500,000 as part of a deal for "Opal" and one other book, had seemingly plagiarized language from two novels by Megan McCafferty, an author of popular young-adult books.

In an e-mail message yesterday afternoon, Ms. Viswanathan, 19, said that in high school she had read the two books she is accused of borrowing from, "Sloppy Firsts" and "Second Helpings," and that they "spoke to me in a way few other books did."

"Recently, I was very surprised and upset to learn that there are similarities between some passages in my novel, 'How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild and Got a Life,' and passages in these books," she said.

Calling herself a "huge fan" of Ms. McCafferty's work, Ms. Viswanathan added, "I wasn't aware of how much I may have internalized Ms. McCafferty's words." She also apologized to Ms. McCafferty and said that future printings of the novel would be revised to "eliminate any inappropriate similarities."

Michael Pietsch, publisher of Little, Brown, said that Ms. Viswanathan planned to add an acknowledgment to Ms. McCafferty in future printings of the book.

harvard student gets $500,000 in a two-book deal and her first one is plagiarized

read the rest here