Duane Lester, a blogger at the All American blog, posted a story a couple of weeks back detailing the results of an audit of Holt County, Missouri. A small local paper in the county seat in Oregon, Missouri ran a story about the audit a few days later. And not just any story – they ran Lester’s post, word for word and without attribution.
Lester decided to pursue the matter and wrote a letter arguing for his copyright claims, demanding $500 in payment. Then Lester paid a visit to the newspaper’s editor, and caught it all on film.
Mr. Ripley’s demeanor suddenly changed once he realized that he was being filmed, and perhaps that’s the only reason he decided to eventually make the payment to Lester. Of course Ripley would have wound up paying a lot more in court costs had he decided to defend his plagiarism, so it was probably the right financial move.
What astounds me are some of the reactions to the video. There are people more upset that Lester videoed the confrontation than that Ripley blatantly plagiarized Lester. Yeah Ripley “goofed,” they claim, but that Lester is a meanie by intimidating a small-town newspaper editor.
You see this sort of thing on blog comments all the time, particularly on Catholic blogs where certain commenters spend roughly 20 paragraphs droning on about charity in what is a thinly veiled, passive aggressive attempt to say “I am better than you.” Justifying horrible behavior by focusing on the medium by which the behavior is exposed is almost as bad as the behavior itself. As I said, I’m not sure Lester would have received justice had the camera not been rolling, though he perhaps would have received a black eye. Maybe Ripley will now be more reticent about ripping off young bloggers in the future.
Kudos to Lester for standing up for his rights.