On 10/17/12 10:26 PM, James Heilman wrote:
We really need a plagiarism detection tool so that we can make sure our
sources are not simply "copy and pastes" of older versions of Wikipedia.
Today I was happily improving our article on pneumonia as I have a day off.
I came across a recommendation that baby's should be suction at birth to
decrease their risk of pneumonia with a {{cn}} tag. So I went to Google
books and up came a book that supported it perfectly. And than I noticed
that this book supported the previous and next few sentences as well. It
also supported a number of other sections we had in the article but was
missing our references. The book was selling for $340 a copy. Our articles
have improved a great deal since 2007 and yet school are buying copy edited
version of Wikipedia from 5 years ago. The bit about suctioning babies at
birth is was wrong and I have corrected it. I think we need to get this
news out. Support Wikipedia and use the latest version online!

Further details / discuss are here
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia_talk:WikiProject_Medicine#Can_we_still_use_books_as_refs.3F


This situation was entirely predictable, even if its particular circumstances weren't. I ran into something of the sort as far back as 2003. I have long since lost track of references to the incident; it had to do with literary biographies of long dead authors, and thus much less critical than in a medical article. The broader question goes well beyond simple matters of plagiarism or copyright infringement. The passages will often be short enough that a fair dealing claim is available, and the moral right to be credited for one's work has no meaningful legal enforcement to back it up. To those familiar with these things that right isn't even controversial.

The disputed version in this case is a mere five years old. Over a longer time that could encompass the entire validity period of a copyright we could easily see such a thing bounce back and forth many times over without ever being discovered. A bot could do some of the search for infringing material; it may even look through archived and archaic versions of a document. I believe that at some point any such processes reach a limit. That broader solution will need to be more imaginative than more police work.

Ray

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