Friday, 2 April 2010

In Bad Faith

An Open Letter To Ruth Gledhill

In a week when the BBC's iPhone apps for news and sport are put on hold, due to complaints by the Newspaper Publishers Association, whose director David Newell has demanded they be blocked...

In a week when the Rupert Murdoch minion army announces its intention to have the Times and Sunday Times websites disappear behind a paywall...

In a week appropriately containing an April Fools' Day, this woman has been busying herself with the paste and the scissors, composing an ensemble piece all about the hands being wrung, and souls searched, today throughout one particular Church.

Ruth Gledhill is The Times Religion Correspondent. In this blog she offers her views on the issues of the day. So runs the blurb beside her mugshot. Her views? Would that it were true! And it continues: Your responses are invited.

Ah, good.

The subject of today's lesson shall be: the twin evils of plagiarism and copyright infringement. Ruth, from a total of 827 words in the forementioned article, fully 166, or 20%, are your own, and these are mostly of the type "She says...", "He writes...", "She said...". Particularly irksome, however, is your block transcription of the highly platitudinous 458 word Thought for the Day piece by Tablet editor Catherine Pepinster.

Normally of course, I would have time for neither your writing, nor Pepinster's, and still less for the worldwide organisation of kiddie fiddlers you write about. However, you really must get someone to explain copyright law to you, or else perhaps find a job that you can do. It is scarcely enough merely to note that it "...was so profoundly moving that I hope the BBC won't mind if I reproduce it..." and then pinching your nose, pull down the big fat Ctrl-V.

Did you also find the new Lily Allen album so profoundly moving, that you hope she won't mind if you tear off a few free copies to share with sell to your friends?

Is this the standard of journalism that we are to expect from The Times Online, when it starts charging daily for access to recycled content, blagged from the BBC where we have already paid for it once (and even then, not without a great deal of protest at the Thought for the Day show's exclusion of secular humanists)? In a publication which calls publicly for the dismantling of the BBC, the blocking of its technological development, the scrapping of its license fee "to create a level playing field", where its journalists can get down in the mud, rutting beside the likes of you?

I was very sorely tempted to repurpose your own headline, actually an India Knight quote, You can't take lessons in morality from people who disgust you, for this item; but that would have gone too far. Please, just try to remember that you're paid to write, not to compile scrapbooks of stolen trinkets.

Your photo was so profoundly moving, that I hope © Times Online won't mind if I reproduce it.

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