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It pays to be the Chinese Space Agency (or whatever it is called).

It launched a moon probe and published a photo of the moon.

Readers noticed the photo resembled one from NASA, issued in 2005. It not only resembled it; it appeared identical. That, if the photo is the NASA one, is plagiarism. Plagiarism is the passing off of the work of another as one’s own.

What will happen to the Chinese Space Agency? Nothing, probably. Firstly, it claims, the resemblance is a coincidence arising from the use of the same vantage point by the two cameras (is there a moon viewing point?); secondly, new craters in the Chinese photo indicate it is later and recent, they say.

The position of Raj Persaud, psychiatrist is not so easy. He presents BBC Radio 4’s programme “All in the Mind��?. Apparently he quoted, in writing, from the work of others without identifying the source. He is now being investigated by the Fitness to Practice committee of the UK General Medical Council. Confusingly, the GMC confirms he did not attempt to pass off the work of others as his own, simply that he did not identify them.

This is worrying. Many bloggers, it seems, are eliding the authorship of others, or otherwise exploiting their work, in linking to other sites.

Of course, we might comfort ourselves with the reflection that we don’t mind if the British GMC seeks to foil any intention we have to practice medicine in the UK, there being, generally, none.

More appropriately, we might wonder why the GMC thinks this issue has anything to do with the practice of medicine and why they might not recognise the possible existence of envy towards Dr. Persaud.

Finally, what is the proper utility of a copyright? Certainly to protect the income of the author, but for how long? A lifetime and 70 years, as at present?

According to Rufus Pollack of Cambridge University, 15 years.


  1. Thanks for the link, but not for the first time, I’m confused. First, I think that the comparison with Heston Blumenthal is a compliment to me; I shall certainly take it as such as I admire his approach to food; though I’m not so sure that he would see it favourably! Second, I’m not sure whether you approve or disapprove of my use of linked images to illustrate my posts. Whatever your stance, I’d be interested to hear more, as this is the first time someone has commented on this, and I’m always delighted to get feedback. In particular, if I’m doing something naughty, I’d be happy to stop. On the other hand, if I’m doing something useful, I’d be happy to continue.



  2. Eoin,

    The comparison with Heston Blumenthal is my envious, but complimentary, response to the comprehensive nature of your posts. I am tempted to take it further and ask you to identify the Irish legal equivalent of fish and chips and go on to suggest how a “Blumenthalâ€? make-over might be of benefit, but I am nervous that you might turn out to be a Norman Mailer and invite me into the nearest (intellectual) boxing ring for a “discussionâ€? on the matter.

    Again, I view your incorporation of the “logosâ€? with envy. I do not know how to do it and, only incidentally, query the use of of such logos (the intellectual property of the post’s subject), presumably without prior consent. In practical terms consent, or its absence, may not be an issue as, I believe, you have proved. A logo is an “aestheticâ€? item and its use adds to the post, which is why I would like to emulate it.

  3. Green Ink,

    Depending on the facts, that’s a breach of copyright and is actionable

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  1. By blog » Blogswipes, Law and the Indo on Monday, January 25, 2010 at 12:44 am

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