The Movie Junkies site, which featured scads of movie reviews plagiarized from other movie critics, is at least temporarily down; right now if you go there you get the notice you see above, “Maintenance Mode,” apparently being a polite, or at least shorter, version of the more accurate description “Oh CRAP I Have So Much Plagiarized Material Here That I Can’t Get Rid of It All In One Panicked Burst Mode.” Given that the site appeared so rife with plagiarism that it might be more efficient to ask which reviews weren’t cut and pasted from elsewhere, the site might be down for a while. The Movie Junkies’ Twitter feed is also down; so is its Facebook page.
Film writer Eric D. Snider writes about his own interaction with The Movie Junkies’ proprietor Michele Schalin, in which Ms. Schalin attempts to call a wholesale plagiarism of one of his reviews an “error,” rewrites the review so it still contains substantial amounts of plagiarized material, and then when he calls her on it, gets snippy with him and suggests that just because she just happens to use words in sentences almost exactly as he has, it doesn’t mean it’s actually plagiarism. This assertion, may I suggest, works better when one hasn’t already been caught plagiarizing. Elsewhere, Ms. Schalin attempted the Griggs Maneuver, i.e., blaming the problem on “staff”. Oh, well, staff. We all know how that is. Good help is hard to find.
In the real world, Ms. Schalin and The Movie Junkies multiply plagiarizing multiple writers was definitely an error, but, I rather strongly suspect, not in the way Ms. Schalin was trying to suggest. Her use of “error” implied that this plagiarism was all a mistake and misunderstanding, whoops, let’s fix that. It’s evident, however, that the error here was having a Web site whose business model was predicated on taking the work other people did without their permission and passing it off as one’s own. There’s a lot of ground between the first definition of “error” and the second.
Hopefully Ms. Schalin has learned something from this, other than “The Internet is mean when you plagiarize other people’s work.” Well, yes. Yes, it is. But there’s a reason for that, you know. Figure out why that is, Ms. Schalin, and you’ll be better off.