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General News

A Cautionary Tale

October 27, 2022

I have been writing for a little over forty years. To date, my written work has taken the forms of labels and catalog text for museum exhibitions, academic publications, articles in the Greek and/or Greek-American press, a book, itemized bibliographies, discographies as well as introductory collection descriptions required for the deposit of archival materials, chapters in books, a co-authored bibliography on Greek America and even once the linear notes for a compact disk. But as far as I can tell, until recently my writing has never been plagiarized.

The definition of plagiarism is quite clear. It is “the practice of taking someone else’s work or ideas and passing them off as one’s own.” Recently, I discovered that on the National Herald website my article ‘Notes Toward a History of Greek-American Studio Photographers (https://www.thenationalherald.com/notes-toward-a…) was incorrectly dated as first appearing in print on December 20, 2021.

I knew that this article appeared may years before the cited year of 2021. So, I began searching through my various boxes of files. While I had moved from Colorado back to Illinois some 8 to 9 months ago, I am far from properly unpacked. I could not find the proper box among the dozens and dozens of as yet unpacked boxes that still sit where they presently occupy two floors of an old building. This led me back to the Internet hoping to find some clue from my decades of published accounts that would lead me back to the original appearance of this article.

Consequently, I searched for this article by name. That’s when I discovered not one but two exact duplicates of my ‘Notes to a History of Greek-American Studio Photographers’ article.  The first I saw was on the Graham Bash website (https://grahambash.co.uk/notes-to-a-history-of…) and later on the Juulder Vies Studio website (https://juuldevries.com/notes-to-a-history-of-greek-american-studio-photographers/).

On the Graham Bash website the ‘author’ for my article was cited as Daniel S. Carrol and on the Juulder Vies Studio website Kim D. Michell is credited as author. I have no idea who either of these people may be or even if they, in fact, plagiarized my article.

I raise this last doubt because it seems far too unlikely that both individuals would each seek to simultaneously copy and claim this very article as their own. Especially since each also cite the same incorrect date of December 20, 2021. There is another feature to this turn of events that underscores my claim to authorship.

Both websites reproduce not only my text of this account word-for-word, but both include the exact same photograph I provided when this article initially appeared in the pages of The National Herald. I have also provided that very same photograph for this account. In this portrait photograph one can see from left to right Alexander N. Rapanos, Anna Rapanos, and then Tom N. Rapanos. Anna Rapanos later married Sam Harris (Zafiris Psyhcogios) who were my mother’s parents. The photograph seen with my article (and the two others as well) is on the back of a small hand-mirror. If you look closely, you can see the wire handle at the bottom of the circle image. This mirror was one of the extra photographic items provided along with by the original 2 1/2’ x 3 1/2’ framed principal portrait photograph that I still possess.

Professional photographers continue to provide their customers with a variety of package deals where the studio color photograph of a child’s portrait can include a full color 8 ½” x 10” photograph along with an additional 4” x 5” print as well as a sheet of wallet size prints.

Being Greek, I can well believe someone has betrayed me and wishes me ongoing distress. But the flaw in all this remains the question of why two well established professional photographers would each simultaneously claim my article as their own, especially given the fact that they both cite the very same date for ‘their’ publication.

Greeks and Greek-Americans very often have fundamentally different notions regarding betrayal, and there are gradations of this action, within the broader community of persons identifying themselves as Greek. I have heard Greek-Americans respond to variety of attacks by Greeks from Greece as understandable since the person wishing one ill is an emotional cripple. Still, more than a few notions originally based in Greece have not made the journey to America.

As the late Dan Georgakas was always so careful to stress to all National Herald writers, any newspaper only has a one-time right to publish any individual writer’s work. Greeks can ‘think’ anything about that statement that they want. It still does not change American copyright legalities on this point. A variety of websites have requested and I have given my permission to have them reproduce one or more of my articles on their website. Then, others have simply reproduced my work without asking me.

Others say they have asked the National Herald and they were given the ‘right’ to re-print one or several of my articles without my permission. Again, who do any of these individuals ‘think’ created and still owns these creations? Well, frankly, they do not care. Being Greek, they just bull their way through anything that suits them. Again, notions originating in Greece about who owns their original written work does not coincide with American case law.

Added to all this is the fact that my original account has already seen entry into American library and archival systems that will, by definition, insure long-term preservation of my authoring the ‘original’ account. The National Herald, in printed form and microfilm, has been saved in countless institutions not just in this country but also in Greece. And in terms of academics, whatever else may be said about them, they are trained to always seek out original accounts.

None of the above touches another, quite critical point. All those working in the overall production of the National Herald from the editorial staff, other writers, office staff. and quite literally right through everyone else behind the scenes that have dedicated their daily efforts at producing a consistently high-quality and truly singular publication, are all swept aside by some crazed individual or group that behaves in the way described here.

Another issue that naturally springs to mind is whether this happened before to other National Herald writers? And while it may initially seem a tad paranoid to ask, have other National Herald accounts appeared elsewhere – but in an edited form? Where the original intent of say, position papers or editorials, have been intentionally subverted to alter the original meaning or meanings?

We have entered entirely new realms of technology that are quite frightening. Under the general name of ‘deepfakes’ -via the abilities inherent in the digital age in which we all now reside – those with the necessary training can effortlessly employ what is called ‘deep learning artificial intelligence’ to replace the likeness of one person with another in video and other digital media. Deepfake technology’s ability to alter images is but one aspect of this new and evolving technology.

Altering any printed form within the online text of any National Herald edition is also possible in a matter of mere minutes.

The editorials, academic, or position papers regularly appearing in the National Herald could conceivably be changed in their online forms to offer a directly an anti-Greek account. Clearly, we live in very disturbing times.

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