The Virginia Quarterly Review has discovered that Chris Anderson’s book Free contains sections that have been plagiarized from Wikipedia. Anderson has issued the same comment that most people who get caught doing this kind of thing do: sorry, my mistake, we’ll change add proper citations in future versions of the book.
Anderson is not only an author, but the editor of Wired magazine. He knows better, and this is not a mistake someone with his experience can easily make. His excuse that footnotes were removed at the last minute is lame, since in many cases the text is pulled directly from Wikipedia, requiring quotations and footnotes. I encourage you to click through to the article linked to above and review the examples yourself.
I think that Anderson may have taken the notion of ‘free’ that he is pushing in his book a bit to seriously. I can see him on his book tour, “Let me give you an example of free. Parts of this book you paid for, the book I just signed for you, were written by someone else, and I used them in my book, for free!”
A radical notion indeed. We used to call this dishonesty. Anderson and his publishers, Hyperion Books, appear to want to brush it all away with an apology. They apologize, you get less then what you paid for (since I’m assuming you didn’t pay $30 for repurposed wikipedia entries), they keep your money.
I think in addition to apologizing, Anderson should donate his income from the book and the publisher their profits from the book to the Wikimedia Foundation. Then I might just believe he is sorry about the mistake, and not just sorry that he got caught.