Personal Finance Tip-Don’t Plagiarize


The New York Times had an article today titled Copying Wasn’t Intentional, A Harvard Novelist Says. I first celebrated the fact that Kaavya Viswanathan, a 19 year old Harvard sophomore, received $500,000 as part of a deal for “Opal” and one other book-pretty cool for a college student…Until this came up. That’s Kaavya on the left.

Kaavya acknowledged yesterday that she had borrowed language from another writer’s book, but called the copying “unintentional and unconscious.” Really? Seems to be a lot of this going on lately from CEO’s to Harvard sophomore’s! I hope that it is found that Kaavya did not plagiarize but it isn’t looking good so far!

But what I really want to know is this-she’s already been paid $500,000 from the publisher. Does she have to give it back if they find she did plagiarize? I hope that my blogger buddy over at My Open Wallet will share her knowledge with us-she works for a publisher. Whadda think-will she have to give the dough back?

PS. Here is a great link with comments from Kaavya’s TA at Harvard

Steve Mertz
My Book Won’t Be Plagiarized

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4 Responses to “Personal Finance Tip-Don’t Plagiarize”

  1. PF Spreadsheets Guy says:

    “My Book Won’t Be Plagiarized” by Sean…whoops, I unintentionally and unconsciously copied you 🙂 It is a bit ridiculous that she was trying to pull such a scam. Then again, maybe she got away with it throughout high school and college, and thought she could continue to do it in the professional world.

  2. Madame X says:

    Hi Steve, it’s an interesting question! It probably depends on how her contract was written. I don’t know a whole lot about it, but when the James Frey mess happened, I remember reading that contracts might in some cases have some kind of warranty in them, that the author takes responsibility for the accuracty of the contents. That would be for non-fiction, though, so I don’t know what kind of protection there might be for outright plagiarism. In this case I doubt she’ll have to give back her advance, but if there is a lawsuit maybe she’d be liable and not the publisher, if the contract protects them? I’m not really sure, so I will have to ask around and see what I can find out.

  3. Steve Mertz says:

    Thanks Madame X! This woman keeps me in the know 🙂

  4. Steve Mertz says:

    Sean-This will be interesting but she is a sophmore in college-how do you figure that William Swanson, CEO of Raytheon, was recently busted for plagiarizing a 1944 book called “The Unwritten Laws of Engineering” Go Figure!

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