Comments:Wikinews investigates claim McCain plagiarized speech from Wikipedia

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Isn't wikipedia free?

Yes but plagiarism is plagiarism, try submitting a wiki article as a school paper to see what happens. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:23, 23 August 2008 (UTC)

The parent poster is right. This isn't a matter of copyright infringement, this is a matter of claiming authorship over someone else's work. Wikipedia is Free, as it is licensed under the GFDL. (:-) He should have said at the end of his speech "This speech is derived from Wikipedia, under GFDL 1.2 or later.") Ksd5 (talk) 21:17, 23 August 2008 (UTC)
I really don't understand what all this is about. The point of Wikipedia is to be a source of information; it's not really like McCain was publishing an article and copied it wholesale from Wikipedia. The fact that a small fraction of a speech was lifted from Wikipedia should be encouraged rather than discouraged. I feel very dirty that we published this article: it really seems like we don't want to allow anyone to actually use Wikipedia content, at the same time as we complain about fair use complainers on Wikipedia. -- IlyaHaykinson (talk) 00:04, 24 August 2008 (UTC)
The point of the licenses we use, on WN and WP, is to give credit to those who deserve it, at the same time allowing anyone anywhere to use the information. All people sometimes ask is they see the proper credit given. All they had to do was put Wikipedia down on the bottom. We ask everyone else to,, why would this be any different? DragonFire1024 (Talk to the Dragon) 00:09, 24 August 2008 (UTC)

Sounds kind of moronic to call this plagiarism, if you ask me.

I've got a history degree, and stating basic historical facts for providing a historical context to a situation is NOT plagiarism. Out of the two examples giving in this article, only the first is a potential case of plagiarism, but is too basic and short (and not totally identical) to be any grounds for plagiarism by itself—think about it, how many drastically different ways could you paraphrase that sentence (which is, BTW, common knowledge (see [1]))? The second is not plagiaristic at all: the facts it contains are common knowledge, and the language is hardly identical. If stating the same facts in proximity of eachother was considered plagiarism, a great many (perhaps most) textbooks available today would be guilty of this! 01:25, 24 August 2008 (UTC)

I agree, I do see similar wording, but not similar enough to be plagiarism. We might be reasonably sure he got the info from wikipedia, but he did paraphrase it, at least in the examples given in the article. That just means he went to wikipedia to get his information; nothing special there, right? On a related note...-- 07:25, 24 August 2008 (UTC)

So McCain has joined the ranks of college students everywhere by ripping off Wikipedia? Who cares. I mean seriously, it's not copyrighted, it's Wikipedia. Fire the intern who wrote that for being lazy and move on to important issues like foreign affairs and the economy. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:50, 24 August 2008 (UTC)

Actually, Wikipedia is copyrighted. It's just a more open sort of copyright. 06:39, 24 August 2008 (UTC)


I thought that only Pravda plagiarized Wikipedia... Live and learn... —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:16, 24 August 2008 (UTC)

Wiki policies on "plagarism" really aren't very clear[edit]

While I don't support McCain in any way, I would point out that even if one gets around to finding and reading WP:copyrights it is rather confusing, for example with "see belows" that could point to a lot of different things. (I even had someone claiming it was against copy right to summarize info in one wiki article into another one!) Also, remember they might have gone to the original source and done their own summary of that - and we all know wikipedia summaries of articles themselves often verge on the same sort of "plagarism." So I think this article just causes more confusion about wikipedia in the world and even among editors than anything else. Not to mention one sentence might be written by four different editors; an article by a hundred. You really want to tell me they are ever going to get together and sue somebody?? Just doesn't make practical sense. I'd opine in the copyrights article but that talk page was so confusing I threw up my hands. 13:29, 24 August 2008 (UTC)Carolmooredc {talk}

Plagiarism has nothing directly to do with copyright. If I copy text from a public domain document, say the w:Magna Carta, and claim that it is my own original writing (or merely include it in amongst things which ARE my own writing without specifying that this section was copied) then it is plagiarism. Even if I reworded the passage I was using, but kept the same general order of presentation and/or a few turns of phrase... it is still plagiarism. Even if I then at the bottom tagged on, (Magna Carta)... still plagiarism since I didn't identify which parts were mine and which were copied.
At some level, the degree of similarity at which something becomes 'plagiarism' is subjective. However, McCain's speech is well past the level at which academic institutes would generally so label something. As can be seen by these examples or this actual case.
As to copyright... plagiarism of a copyrighted work is generally a copyright violation. All edits to Wikipedia articles are copyrighted, but released under the GNU Free Document License (GFDL). The GFDL is a form of 'copyleft', which basically waives most of the normal rights of authors so long as they are attributed and the GFDL license agreement applied to the re-use. McCain's speech did not attribute any of the information to Wikipedia. It did not include the text of the GFDL agreement. Ergo, it did not comply with and would not benefit from the copyright exclusions granted by the license. As such, it would likely be a copyright infringement of the same type as this court case. --CBDunkerson (talk) 12:57, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
Thanks. I realized that somewhat later and put a note on WP:copyright on this and other issues in the article they should make clearer. Encouraged them to read this page, too. {talk} —Preceding comment was added at 17:23, 25 August 2008 (UTC)

Obviously copied..[edit] particular the second lengthy sentence. It is not mere general factual information as the McCain people claim, it is very specific wording and ordering of facts - the likelihood of it being coincidental seems very far fetched. If this was a professor and a student there would be ethical issues with plagiarism. Luckily for McCain, he is only a Presidential candidate, so he doesn't have the same standards of ethics as students. 14:06, 24 August 2008 (UTC)

The bigger picture[edit]

Plagiarism, in my view, is a silly and selectively applied concept usually valued in places where people want to patent and make money from information,ideas and thoughts or the expression thereof. Scott McNally of Sun Microsystems said years ago "there is no privacy; get over it" and I'd say the same thing about copyright and plagiarism in this new millenium. It's always hard to discard out dated concepts and rules but it's worse to cling onto them when they no longer serve any collective purpose and,indeed, conflict with the new collective mentality. So, I'll "plagiarize" McNally and say; "there is no plagiarism; get over it." Wishmaster68 (talk) 14:24, 24 August 2008 (UTC)

And here you just demonstrated why what you did isn't plagiarism. It is only plagiarism if you don't attribute what you're quoting OR paraphrasing. And paraphrasing something without attribution is indeed plagiarism. If we did that in our university and were caught, there was no warning, only instant expulsion. Copying is all fine and good. So is rewriting. I have no problem with that, and I think that few sane people do. It's copying with attribution that is the problem. No one should do that, ever. Even if it wasn't legally wrong, it is ethically wrong to claim someone else's work as your own. Always say where your ideas come from, whether it is legally required or not. Gopher65talk 15:03, 24 August 2008 (UTC)
Seriously, have you seen many people attributing encyclopedias in their speeches :) ? As for verbatim quoting, all depends on the license. E.g. all the CC licenses require attribution, while public domain publications do not. Lysy (talk) 18:24, 24 August 2008 (UTC)
Also note, his whole speech here [2]. I only listed two examples. There are more but too many to list all of them in the article. DragonFire1024 (Talk to the Dragon) 18:31, 24 August 2008 (UTC)

Good use of wikipedia[edit]

He made a good use of wikipedia. That's what an encyclopedia is for, expecially an open licenced one. I'm happy to see that wikipedia proved useful again and would promote furhter usage rather than complaining about "plagiarism". Lysy (talk) 18:17, 24 August 2008 (UTC)

*sighs* That's an acceptable use of an encyclopedia if you source what you're paraphrasing. That is what this is about: he paraphrased without attributing his sources. If he'd put a footnote in the written copy of his speech that said "this was taken from Wikipedia", then no one would have commented, except to exclaim in shock that a man as old as McCain can use a computer (or that his staffers can;)). Since he didn't, it's theft under the bloated, obnoxious copyright laws that nitwit helped pass into existence. It's kind of a "spider caught in its own web" kind of story. Gopher65talk 18:23, 24 August 2008 (UTC)
So if he did not attribute it, the assumption is that he invented Georgia himself ? Come one, people have to get their knowledge from somewhere and it's not practical to attribute every single statement ("I've heard on CNN on Thursday that there is a country named Georgia, then I went to check it up in my Britannica, and found there that it was in Europe etc." see, what I mean?) Lysy (talk) 18:31, 24 August 2008 (UTC)
If you completely rewrite information in your own words (especially if it general knowledge), then no attribution is required. If you quote or paraphrase, then you need to list your source(s). Gopher65talk 18:35, 24 August 2008 (UTC)
I think this is a bit extreme, as the information about Georgia's history is a general knowledge, not a result of some in-depth research by wikipedia. This said, however, I'm concerned that McCain campaign's spokesman denied the use of wikipedia when asked. Lysy (talk) 18:39, 24 August 2008 (UTC)
Where did they say that? They denied they copied wikipedia, but i don't see where they ever denied using it as a source. DragonFire1024 (Talk to the Dragon) 18:58, 24 August 2008 (UTC)
Because this information is common knowledge, if McCain plagiarized Wikipedia, then Wikipedia has also plagiarized its own sources on the matter, as it doesn't attribute them, either. 06:08, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
Oh so all those references and al those sources at the bottom of articles are not attribution? DragonFire1024 (Talk to the Dragon) 06:14, 25 August 2008 (UTC)

A present for you all! - David Gerard (talk) 01:50, 25 August 2008 (UTC)

Hahaha:) Thanks for the link David Gerard. I love spoofs like that. Gopher65talk 01:53, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
Definitely hilarious. 11:46, 25 August 2008 (UTC)

Good for you Vector[edit]

I'm glad that someone had the balls to call him on it.

  • cheers*

If teenagers in high school know not to do this sort of stuff and can get sued for it, don't you think our political candidates should face the same scrutiny? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:37, 25 August 2008 (UTC)

Academic reports and political speeches are not in the same category. Look up plagiarism and see for yourself. --SVTCobra 23:51, 25 August 2008 (UTC)


Find out who has the copyright on the wording and let him pressure McCain to release the whole speech under the GFDL, or better let him sue McCain for copyright enfringement. -- 03:44, 28 August 2008 (UTC)

This article is shit. -- 03:56, 28 August 2008 (UTC)

McCain did not plagiarize[edit]

McCain did not plagiarize. One of the members of his army of speech writers may or may not have borrowed from a Wikipedia entry. But John McCain himself did not plagiarize. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:01, 8 September 2008 (UTC)

"george Washington was the first president" comes up with over 13,000 instances when googled as a phrase. Are there 12,999 plagiarizers? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:55, 17 September 2008 (UTC)