Russia, Plagiarism and Agricultural Education (08/03/2018)

Since “Russia” is in the news a lot lately, the first Friday Footnote relates to Agricultural Education, Plagiarism and Russia.

Last week I spent a day in Danville, Illinois conducting research on:

  • Interstate Printers and Publishers (at one time the world’s largest supplier of agricultural textbooks including most agricultural education textbooks)
  • The American Farm Youth Magazine (a magazine designed for FFA members and other youth groups prior to the FFA publishing a magazine)
  • Chapter Supply Company (a business that sold assorted items to FFA Chapters. They got in hot water for selling stuffed owls)

All three were located in Danville. I spent several hours in the Danville Library and ran across the following article. I thought it was interesting. If you teach about writing research papers, you might be able to use this. Since my copy of the original article is hard to read, I have reproduced the article below.

Russians Ignore Copyright Laws, Reprint Book Published Here

The Commercial-News (Danville, IL)

October 27, 1963 (Page 26)

By Jim Williams C-N Staff Writer

The Russians are stealing our books. Page numbers, title pages, texts, photographs and all.

Surely, you may say, this is a cloak and dagger operation, complete with two-way wrist radios, clandestine midnight rendezvous and under-the-table exchanges.

Actually, in contrast to their usual methods, the Russians are quite open about their literary thievery.

Since they don’t honor international copyright agreements, all they have to do is buy our books, translate and then print them.

There is no middleman involved. The Russians don’t have to follow the customary courtesy of paying a man for his work. They just steal it.

An example of this international cheating cropped up in Danville recently. In the mail one day, Russell L. Guin, president of Interstate Printers and Publishers, Inc., 19 N. Jackson St., got a book printed to Russian.

“It was a lousy binding job,” Guin says. “Like some of the cheaply-bound books you find in the dime store – not cloth-bound, but paper-bound.

On a false title page opposite the title page, Guin read; “Turkey Management, sixth edition.” “That’s one of our books!” he thought to himself. And it certainly was.

At the bottom of the page, boldly and honestly was: “The Interstate. Danville, Ill.” This is the identification used in all titles published by Guin’s company.

Facing the false title page was the Russian title page. Similar to the one printed in English, but in funny-looking 32-character Russian type.

Guin knew his firm had not received any copyright payments for reprinting the book, originally a 993-page volume, reduced by the Russians to 583 pages.

The book had been purchased in Russia by a U. S. Embassy official, sent to the State Department, then to a distributor and on to Interstate.

A search of Interstate files revealed a purchase order for the book and a mailing address in Moscow where the book was sent. This was in 1961. The title page of the Russian reprint showed the bogus printing job was done in 1962 in Russia.

Guin conceded one thing to the Russian copycats: “They didn’t do too bad a job copying our illustrations. The photographs lost a little in the process, but really they aren’t too bad.”

The Russian reprint even owned up to the authorship of the book, crediting co-authors Stanley J, Marsden of the U, S. Department of Agriculture at Beltsville, MD., and J, Holmes Martin, head of the poultry department at Purdue University.

All of which reminds us of what the Russian inventor said when he picked up the Sears-Roebuck catalog: “Oh! Look at all the wonderful things to invent . . . .”