2008
02.27

Last August, I wrote a passionate post about Gilbert Arenas’s “stealing” of Ian Edwards’s joke about sharks. I argued that the case in point was copyright infringement, and that no matter how “big” or “small” a person, writer, comedian, etc, their work should be credited. I even gave a hypothetical example of Deadspin’s Will Leitch “stealing” from me. Because of my stand on copyright, this post became one of my most commented, with over 30 instances of reader input.

Little did I know, six months later, one of my more original ideas would end up in someone else’s column.

On Monday, Cork Gaines of RaysIndex linked to a piece written by Orlando Sentinel columnist David Whitley. In his column, “Who cursed the Rays? Could it be . . . Satan?!“, Whitley attempts to explore the reaction of the Church of Satan to the Tampa Bay Rays’ franchise name change. Regular readers of my blog, as well as visitors from Deadspin.com and RaysIndex.com might remember I wrote about the exact same topic five months ago.

To be perfectly honest, my piece, entitled “Church Members Upset Over Devil Rays’ Name Change“, was satire. It was entirely fabricated. I did not interview the head of the Church, nor did I talk with any of its members. That said, when I first read Mr. Whitley’s column and his claim that he “sent [an email] asking if somebody could give us the Devil’s perspective on being dissed by Tampa Bay”, I actually hoped that he could acquire the real story. However, this was not to be.

Following his attempts at humor by exaggerating the Rays’ earlier franchise mismanagement, Whitley goes on to fabricate a quote by the Devil himself.

“Hey, it’s not my fault Vince Naimoli thought he could take on the Yankees with a Wal-Mart payroll,” Satan said. “And whose idea was it to play home games inside the world’s largest dumpster?”

This attempt at satire is clearly similar to the ideas on my post, even down to the Yankees reference.

After reading Whitley’s column, I immediate emailed Mr. Whitley and informed him of this coincidence. This email was followed up by another email also to Mr. Whitley by Cork Gaines. Gaines also informed me he CC’ed Whitley’s editor for emphasis. Over 24 hours later, I have not received any response from Mr. Whitley nor his editor, and to my knowledge, neither has Gaines.

David Whitley claimed to have done “much research” in finding the Church of Satan website (www.churchofsatan.com, by the way). Had he simply incorporated “Devil Rays” after “Church of Satan” in his search, he would have easily found my post. It is the first web site listed.

I’m not out for your head, Mr. Whitley. I don’t want you fired. Nor do I want to take the food out of your kid’s mouth. All I want is a little credit where credit is due.

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  1. Burn him at the stake! Suffer not a witch to live! hahaha. It does seem like you have a case, although it looks more like creative borrowing instead of word-for-word borrowing.

  2. Weak effort on Whitley’s part not to even respond. Putting aside the timeliness of the column–Jordi did this piece when it SHOULD have been done, months ago–I can almost see how he could have stumbled across the same idea. But not to 1. do a little research or 2. just man up and email Jordi back is sorry

  3. Yeah, this is an interesting case here. Like MC said, it’s not blanket plagairism, where paragraphs are stolen. But clearly there is a very strong case for conceptual stealing. Sort of like the famous “orange roundie” incident with Yaysports.

    There are difference, too. The Orange Roundie incident was a clear stealing of something that was a vital and key component to that site. It was used in many posts.

    In this case the writer, who really should at least acknowledge your e-mail – that’s f*cking rude, and terrible public relations management. It’s the type of mistake that turns a minor incident into a major episode. The failure to respond gives even more credence to the “something shady” theory, and opens the paper up to huge criticism.

    Jordi, have you check this guys’ archives to see if maybe some of his other columns may have conceptually borrowed from other blogs on the internet? If you can connect another article or two to another site’s posts, you can prove a pattern of conceptual plagarism….

  4. Well, there goes my “original idea” to sneak into next year’s winter meetings… killjoy.