A few readers have sent this my way and at least one of them has posted this in the comments section here on LPP but we thought it was important to highlight in its own post.
Back before Lianne Spiderbaby there was another great plagiarism scandal involving a UK publication knows as The Dark Side. Huge swaths of content in that magazine were found to be stolen from mostly online sources and the outrage was heard all over the internet fandom.
Video Watchdog editor Tim Lucas made some remarks with respect to The Dark Side which read like some bizarre repeat of history with roles reversed. We get a picture of an earlier Tim Lucas, the writer so many of us admire, expressing his just outrage at the incident and at the milquetoast response from the magazine. Where is this Tim Lucas today?
“”… our investigations did reveal the disturbing fact that many of the so-called ‘ripped off’ reviews can be found on a number of different sites under a number of different names… showing that there’s plenty of this sort of thing going on among the netheads!”
I can’t imagine anyone reading the above who would not take deep offence. Excuse me: “so-called ‘ripped off’ reviews”? (Is he actually suggesting otherwise?) As for “our investigations,” it sounds like these amounted to no more than him looking around online for excuses, and looking around online is exactly how THE DARK SIDE got into this mess in the first place! The Internet can be (and often is) a cesspool of anonymous, thieving, slandering misbehavior; this doesn’t give anyone free license to behave as disreputably in a print publication, where different rules and traditions should and do apply.
There are actually some sound reasons why a reviewer’s work may turn up in multiple places online. For example, Amazon.com has a Top reviewer named Harriet Klausner whose reviews appear on literally dozens, maybe hundreds, of different review sites of different names, but Ms. Klausner’s name is always on the byline. You won’t find this out by Googling, which would show only the shared text; only by actually visiting the site will you see her byline. This sort of thing is not uncommon, I suppose, but nor is it done without the author’s awareness or consent.
By the same token, it’s true there have been cases of people taking critical remarks posted on various boards online and posting them under their own bylines as Amazon.com reviews. But because such transgressions occur online, does that make them an acceptable or defensible journalistic standard?
As Mirek’s research has shown, the DARK SIDE plagiarisms run into significantly more examples than just “a few.” They also predate Mr. Bryce’s “Gordon Booker” scapegoat. Short of accepting responsibility and stepping down from one’s post, the only reasonable reply to such abuse of the public trust (in this case, THE DARK SIDE’s readership and fandom in general) would be to at least make a show of contrition, however phony. Instead, this editorial chases its own buried apology with a chuckle of embarrassment as it rushes to pass the buck of blame — back to the source that was raided in the first place.
For readers interested in more on the Dark Side scandal we are pleased to announce this will be the first story we report on in a series we are calling The Secret History of Horror Journalism – where we go behind the scenes for events which lie below the surface of the horror media world.
For now we leave you to consider the words of Tim Lucas and what may have changed since 2005. What we see above is one of the reasons many of us admire Lucas and consider him a vital voice in this community. It is our hope at LPP that Lucas can find his way back to the path after the detour of Lianne Spiderbaby.