p2pnet news view | P2P | Politics:- Yesterday, Ottawa law professor and internet activist Dr Michael Geist delivered a stinging, itemised break-down of what he called the Conference Board of Canada’s Deceptive, Plagiarized Digital Economy Report.
It claims to be “Objective and non-partisan,” declaring, “We do not lobby for specific interests,” Geist pointed out, going on »»»
These claims should take a major hit based on last week’s release of a deceptive, plagiarized report on the digital economy that copied text from the International Intellectual Property Alliance (the primary movie, music, and software lobby in the U.S.), at times without full attribution. The report itself was funded by copyright lobby groups (U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Canadian Chamber of Commerce, Canadian Anti-Counterfeiting Network, Copyright Collective of Canada which represents U.S. film production) along with the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation. The role of the Ontario government obviously raises questions about taxpayer dollars being used to pay for a report that simply recycles the language of a U.S. lobby group paper.
Now, Conference Board of Canada Responds, Stands By Its Report, says a new headline on Geist’s blog, which continues »»»
The Conference Board of Canada has issued a response to my posting on its Digital Economy report. The organization defends the report, arguing that there was only one case of a missed citation (which it has corrected) and acknowledging that “some of the cited paragraphs closely approximate the wording of a source document.”
It claims that it conducted a full review of the various arguments and included “those arguments considered most relevant to the policy under review.” Since this is contract research funded by the copyright lobby groups and the Ontario government, the Conference Board refuses to disclose the terms of the contract.
Leaving aside the fact that all the most relevant arguments just happen to come from a U.S. lobby group with direct links to the funders of the Digital Economy report, the Conference Board of Canada has failed to understand the rules associated with plagiarism as a sprinkling of citations is simply not good enough.
As the University of Ottawa’s plagiarism guidelines (which are mirrored in academic institutions around the world) note “if you use someone else’s words, data, etc., use quotation marks and give a complete reference.” The Digital Economy report repeatedly used the same or very similar wording to the IIPA document and does not use quotations.
Moreover, my posting cited to factual errors contained within the report and the press release. For example, the Conference Board claimed that the OECD concluded that Canada is the world’s file sharing capital on a per capita basis. This is simply false as anyone who reads the OECD report will find that it did not reach that conclusion. Nevertheless, the Conference Board has chosen not to respond to this issue.
Admitting an error is never easy, but I would submit that the Conference Board of Canada has compounded its mistake by standing by its report. In doing so, it has done little more than further undermine its credibility. Particularly given that public dollars helped fund this report, Minister of Research and Innovation John Wilkinson should provide his views on whether his government regards this as appropriate use of taxpayer money.
Update (5:15): Brian Jackson of IT Business reports that the Minister’s office acknowledges spending $15,000 on the report. It plans to follow up on the issues raised in my post.
The Conference Board states »»»
While Mr. [sic] Geist charges the Board with lack of attribution in several instances, in fact, only one citation is missing. We have corrected the missing citation in the report and we apologize for the oversight. All other instances, referred to in the blog, include sources. We also acknowledge that some of the cited paragraphs closely approximate the wording of a source document.
In the course of the research, the authors reviewed the full spectrum of arguments surrounding the issue of intellectual property rights in Canada. The final report includes those arguments considered most relevant to the policy under review.
In the conclusion of the report, the Conference Board states, Nations need a balanced approach that controls copyrights based on the rights of the creator and the user of digital intellectual property. Virtually every national intellectual property policy balances the right of creators to be compensated for their creation with the right of consumers to have fair access to legitimately acquired creations to further stimulate knowledge, creativity, and innovation. Indeed, throughout this report, balance has been a recurring theme. Overall, the aim must be to balance control of copyright with the freedom to enjoy creative works lawfully , a compromise that establishes a win-win outcome.
This report was produced as contract research. The Conference Board does not disclose the terms of its contracts without permission of the client.
The Conference Board regularly produces custom research. Our guidelines for financed research require the design and method of research, as well as the content of the report, to be determined solely by the Conference Board.
On Friday, May 29, this report will be presented at a Conference Board conference in Toronto, entitled Intellectual Property Rights: Innovation and Commercialization in Turbulent Times.
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