Monday, October 24, 2005

Bombay Times plagiarises interview!



This was just too good to pass up, RSI or no RSI. I'm currently in Bombay at my grandmother's place. We get the Times of India here, out of habit and nothing else. So I was leafing through yesterday's (October 13th 2005) issue of Bombay Times, when I came across the above article on page 11.
JAKE OF ALL TRADES!
I don't care how much I get paid for my roles as long as the roles are good,
Hollywood actor Jake Gyllenhaal tells BT

Wow. Bombay Times has scored an interview with Hollywood actor Jake Gyllenhaal? Is it a fake??? I decided to check it out. Lo and behold: a few minutes on Google revealed the real interview... it was from IGN's Filmforce website, and the interviewer was someone called Steven Horn.
Wait, it gets better: the IGN interview is dated May 28. That's May 28, 2004.
A closer examination reveals a few interesting facts. Firstly, it's not a simple copy-and-paste job. The BT "writer" or "editor" or whatever they call themselves has gone through great pains to touch up the article to make it slightly different from the original. Change a few words here and there, merge the answers to different questions, maybe even rewrite the question itself. Here's a sample:
From the original:
Q: Were you encouraged to act as a kid, because you come from an acting family? Yeah, I was.
My parents destroyed my life as a child. (Laughs jokingly) No... my parents, my family... I grew up on movie sets, so it was something I just found familiar. When I was growing up also, in high school, I would audition for things and my parents let me audition for things – with the thought that I wouldn't get them. And then I would get them... and it would surprise them. Not that they didn't think I could. When I did, it was like they told me I couldn't do it. Which now I thank them for more than anything. But, I hated them at the time for it. I thought it as everything I wanted to do then.
Q: What would you would be auditioning for?
Movies. I mean, they let me audition for school plays and do them, which was really nice of them. I remember a friend of mine's mother was an agent, and she sort of went, 'Oh yeah, whatever, we'll look for things.' So we started looking for things, and I just would go on auditions, you know, professional auditions and rehearse with my dad. The best thing that I got was rehearsing with my father. It was always about the process of figuring things out, and trying something new, and having another take on something and keeping it alive. So I started to fall in love with it because I worked with him like that. That encouraged me. It was more creative than it was professional when I was little.
Both these questions have been painstakingly tweaked and amalgamated into one neat package in the BT rip-off:
Q: Were you encouraged to act as a kid, because you come from an acting family?
My parents destroyed my life as a child (laughs). I grew up on movie sets, so it was something I just found familiar. Even during my high school days, I would audition for plays and my parents let me audition – with the thought that I wouldn't get them. And then I would get them...sometimes, and it would surprise them. Not that they didn't think I could. But I would rehearse with my dad and that was the best part about it. It was always about the process of figuring things out and trying something new. So I started to fall in love with it, because I worked with him like that. That encouraged me. It was more creative than it was professional, when I was little.
And here's another - also note the re-phrasing of the question this time:
From the original:
Q: You say your parents discouraged you from acting...wanted to give you a "normal" childhood. What sorts of summer jobs have you had?
Good and bad.It was all pretty good. I was a lifeguard for three summers in a row. For two summers, I was simultaneously a lifeguard and a bus boy at a restaurant. So I'd work from 7am and then I'd get off at 5pm. And then I'd go to the restaurant and work from 5pm to midnight. I thought that was fun...I don't really know why now. But I had a eally great time doing that.
From the BT rip-off:
Q: You've had a couple of summer jobs...
Yes, I was a lifeguard for three summers in a row. For two summers, I was simultaneously a lifeguard and a bus boy at a restaurant. So I'd work from 7am and then I'd get off at 5pm. And then I'd go to the restaurant and work from 5pm to midnight. I thought that was fun. I had a really great time doing that.
It's like playing those kiddie "Spot 20 differences between Picture A and Picture B" puzzles, isn't it?
Something else worth noting - BT has not (so far) put this "article" up on their website. This makes sense from their point of view, because it lessens the chances of them getting caught. The only way anyone would come to know would be if someone went through great lengths to scan the sheet and write about it. In this case, someone like me.
It was the "tells BT" bit in the headline that caught my attention. Normally, when someone plagiarises, they do it anonymously - no attibutions whatsoever - so that readers (if their thought process goes that deep) will assume that it's a "staff writer" or a "contributor" who wrote it. But this time BT screwed up. Did they really think we'd believe them - that they'd been graciously granted an interview (how? Via phone?) by an indie Hollywood star, in which he answered questions about a movie that he made more than a year ago? Do they really think their readers are that stupid? (Better not answer that one.)
But you know what really gets me is the people at BT themselves. What are you like? Where is your pride? How does it work - does your editor deploy you to the far corners of the internet like bottom-feeders, where you hunt high and low for content that you can scavenge and pass off as your own? Have you no shame? Do the words ethics and integrity mean anything to you at all? What's wrong with you?
I'll be writing an email to the editors at IGN, informing them of this outright plagiarism. Will post once again if they respond. I've preserved the whole newspaper as well, and will snail-mail it to them if they ask. Meanwhile, if you're reading this, please be so kind as to spread the word. You can find the permanent link to this post by clicking on the timestamp below.
Finally, since it's fashionable these days for high-and-mighty corporations to come after anyone who discovers their corruption, here is an open invitiation to BT to sue me. Come on, let's have you.
— Sunil D'Monte

5 comments:

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toinali said...

Wow!!! What was BT thinking?? I think it is the most atrocious and foolishly funny thing to do in the name of entertainment. Its a great slap in the face of journalism and entertainment. I think the editors at BT need to give its staff some work... simply 'cut and paste' job will not be good for their paper.

V Jagannathan said...

The original interview could have been done by a freelancer and he is free to sell it to other publications - verbatim or after making slight changes. Legally, a freelancer has the copyright for the articles written by him and not the publication that carried it first.

Jagan

Sunil K Poolani said...

jagan, what are you talking about, i thought you were a journalist. this interview appeared in a paper in the US. that was some months back. now BT steals it and says the interview has been done exclusively by BT. so where is the confusion. it is blatant pliagarism and i did check it from the Bombay office. and it has come out to be true and there is no freelancer involved in it. i don't know if you are in love with the Times editors (if there are any) and the owners.
and thanks toinali for the comments.

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