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Writer protests too much?

Business must be worse than I thought.

I had an email in my inbox this morning. It came from a regular writer of articles for an online website.

He was alerting me to the fact that someone who wrote Numismatic News a letter to the editor had in fact copied parts of an article word for word.

In the columnist’s email to me he pointed this out about the letter to the editor writer:

“His first three paragraphs are word-for-word lifted from my 3rd though 7th paragraphs, and his last paragraph is lifted from my second to last paragraph. These are not paraphrases, they are plagiarized, and no attribution is given to me.”

Now plagiarism is a cardinal sin in journalism. It is stealing another person’s work.

I will email the writer of the letter to the editor and I will tell him that I cannot use anything of his in the future because of what he has done.

Now back to business conditions and why they must be worse than I thought.

Not content simply to alert me to the problem, he writes: “Please inform Mr. X that it is illegal to engage in such activities and that I am checking with (Web Publication) regarding possible legal action. I would appreciate it if you would run a note in an upcoming issue explaining that the letter was taken from my column. Please include the title and date of my article. I would be satisfied with that.”

Legal action against a letter to the editor writer?

This threat comes from a writer I have dealt with in the past and to whom I have granted permission to cite my work without compensation.

Usually when people begin to act in such an over-the-top manner, there is an underlying pressure clouding their judgment.

Could it be a slowdown in the writer’s business?

I have no way of knowing. I also hope whatever it is will pass.