Doug Wilson has written on his blog regarding the plagiarism in the Omnibus. I will quote his points and give my response below.
And a controversy about alleged plagiarism in the Omnibus textbooks just occurred, so some of these observations may be expanded and modified as we learn more. I know Veritas Press takes such allegations very seriously and they are looking into them as appropriate. For the present, we can say this much:
1. The overwhelming number of these alleged instances occurred in captions and inserts, which were included in the textbook in the production process, after the edited manuscripts were submitted and edited. Thus the attachment of particular names to these problems was entirely reckless.
I am glad to hear that Veritas Press is taking this seriously. Doug Wilson confirms what I stated in my note yesterday. The captions and inserts were added to the textbook after the authors wrote their essays. The authors’ names listed in my post are there for citation purposes, as I said from the start. Proper citation is not reckless, but a requirement of publication:
How to Cite an Essay Online in MLA
This is similar to a chapter in a book or anthology. Cite the author of the essay, the name of the essay, the name of the collection, the editor of the collection, the publication information, and the page number(s) of the essay. (emphasis added)
Moving on to Wilson’s second point:
2. The process used by Miller to tag such problems is unreliable, and is prone to false positives. If Wikipedia says “Columbus discovered America in 1492,” we are not much edified by a color coded “America was discovered in 1492 by Columbus.”
I think Wilson is saying here that the highlighted sections were merely similar and not word for word because some words occasionally were put in different order. This might be worth noting, except for the fact that most of the examples in my post are line after line of text taken from other sources with almost no alteration and no citation.
As I noted in my post on the definition of plagiarism, if you move the words around some, but the words still clearly reflect the original, and you don’t cite the source, it’s still plagiarism. From Harvard University’s website on plagiarism:
When you paraphrase, your task is to distill the source’s ideas in your own words. It’s not enough to change a few words here and there and leave the rest; instead, you must completely restate the ideas in the passage in your own words. If your own language is too close to the original, then you are plagiarizing, even if you do provide a citation.
Wilson’s 3rd point:
Let me take these one by one. First, of the almost 70 original sources cited in my post, fewer than 20 of them are from Wikipedia or other “open source” sites. When I cited Wikipedia as the source, I was careful to use the Internet Archive: Wayback Machine to verify that the Wikipedia information existed before the publication of each Omnibus volume. You can click on any of the Wikipedia links to take you to the archived page from a particular date that is older than the Omnibus publication date. So, unless time travel is an option, the Wikipedia sources predate the Omnibus volumes.
Re-use: Re-use of content that we host is welcome, though exceptions exist for content contributed under “fair use” or similar exemptions under copyright law. Any re-use must comply with the underlying license(s).
When you re-use or re-distribute a text page developed by the Wikimedia community, you agree to attribute the authors in any of the following fashions:
i. Through hyperlink (where possible) or URL to the page or pages that you are re-using (since each page has a history page that lists all authors and editors);
ii. Through hyperlink (where possible) or URL to an alternative, stable online copy that is freely accessible, which conforms with the license, and which provides credit to the authors in a manner equivalent to the credit given on the Project website; or
iii Through a list of all authors (but please note that any list of authors may be filtered to exclude very small or irrelevant contributions).
And from Wikipedia on how to cite Wikipedia:
“Plagiarism.” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 22 July 2004. Web. 10 Aug. 2004.
As to whether Wikipedia holds copyright, Wikipedia says the following:
The licenses Wikipedia uses grant free access to our content in the same sense that free software is licensed freely. Wikipedia content can be copied, modified, and redistributed if and only if the copied version is made available on the same terms to others and acknowledgment of the authors of the Wikipedia article used is included (a link back to the article is generally thought to satisfy the attribution requirement; see below for more details). Copied Wikipedia content will therefore remain free under appropriate license and can continue to be used by anyone subject to certain restrictions, most of which aim to ensure that freedom.
Wilson’s final point is:
4. Any genuine citation problems that Veritas Press confirms will be dealt with honestly and with full integrity.
Plagiarism as extensive and pervasive as the examples from the Omnibus volumes are much more than “citation problems.” I hope that Veritas Press will continue to take this seriously.