A lesson from Charles Dickens

By , Staff writer

Reporters on the Job: When Yale professor Stephen Stearns launched his first broadside against plagiarism in Chinese academia (read the story here), he complained that Peking University, where he was teaching, had copied one of his books and published it in China without any acknowledgement or payment of royalties.

Later, though, he declined to continue leveling that accusation. Instead, he told me that “since I made that statement, I have learned that when Charles Dickens landed in Boston in 1842, he was shocked to see pirated copies of his books for sale in bookshops. The US did not acknowledge international copyrights until early in the 20th century. That history … makes me reluctant to make strong statements about intellectual property rights.”

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