Is self-publication enabling authors to plagiarise?

I was reading Wallace D. Wattle’s book titled The Science of Getting Rich which was first published in 1910. Boy has it stood the test of time! Wallace made some predictions in his book that have truly come to light. For instance, he foresaw the opportunities that the ‘electric railway’ would be bring for many.  This passage caught my eye:

“But the electric railway business is still in its infancy, and offers plenty of scope for enterprise; and it will be but a very few years until traffic and transportation through the air will become a great industry, and in all its branches will give employment to hundreds of thousands, and perhaps to millions, of people.”

There are lots of historical facts in the book that are truly riveting. Wallace’s writing was revolutionary in that he was proposing new ways of thinking such as have been recently adopted by believers in the Law of Attraction like Rhonda Byrne who authored the best selling book, The Secret. Entrepreneurs like Patric Chan, whose ebook, Simple Success Principles I reviewed, have unashamedly lifted chunks of passages from The Science of Getting Rich. 

In an age where we constantly need things done in lightning speed, Kindle Direct Publishing has been a God send for such people, as well as authors on zero budget as one can have a book published in five minutes and selling on Kindle stores within 24 – 48 hours, all for free. Chan himself, suggests a straightforward way of publishing a book; by compiling one’s blogs [into something that is at least not nonsensical], give it a title such as “53 ways of …” and Wham Bam!, two days later, it’s selling on Amazon Kindle. Having read tens of books on Kindle, it is  clear to me that proof reading is not a requirement prior to publishing for Kindle, nor is editing of the kind that seeks to identify plagiarised materials. Now, as I have banged on to my students, the infringement of copyright is a serious matter. Copyright and plagiarism are similar where the former requires permission for use of someone’s work and the latter necessitates proper attribution.

Chan’s ebook on Kindle is no master piece. It is riddled with grammatical errors for which he makes no excuses (good for him). I have said before how I admire the book but I do wonder about the little issue of plagiarism. Chan briefly mentions Wallace’s book but fails to make proper references and appears to have copied the text, word-for-word, in places. The following passage is from Wallace’s book:

You must lay aside all other concepts of the universe than this monistic one; and you must dwell upon this until it is fixed in your mind, and has become your habitual thought. Read these creed statements over and over again; fix every word upon your memory, and meditate upon them until you firmly believe what they say. If a doubt comes to you, cast it aside as a sin. Do not listen to arguments against this idea; do not go to churches or lectures where a contrary concept of things is taught or preached. Do not read magazines or books which teach a different idea; if you get mixed up in your faith, all your efforts will be in vain. Do not ask why these things are true, nor speculate as to how they can be true; simply take them on trust. The science of getting rich begins with the absolute acceptance of this faith.

And this passage was taken from Chan’s eBook:

“You must lay aside all the other concepts of the universe except for this monistic one; and you must dwell upon this until it is fixed in your mind, and has become your habitual daily thought. Read these creed statements over and over again; fix every word inside your memory, and meditate upon them until you firmly believe what they say. If a doubt comes to you, cast it aside as a sin. Do not listen to arguments against this idea; do not go to churches or lectures, where a contrary concept of things is taught or preached. Do not read magazines or books which teach a different set of ideas; if you get mixed up in your faith, all of your efforts will be in vain. Do not ask why these things are true, nor speculate as to how they can be true; simply trust them with all you have. The science of getting rich begins with the absolute acceptance of this habitual faith.

Your thoughts on this will be very welcome!

Until next time!

Leave a Reply