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Buzzy Washington arts website Brightest Young Things has been hit with a plagiarism scandal in its spring and summer music guide.

Blurbs attributed to Brightest Young Things managing editor Logan Donaldson were actually lifted from music websites, Rolling Stone, the British Telegraph, and even Wikipedia, according to American University student and former controversial NPR intern Emily White, who first noticed the plagiarism.

White says she was reading Donaldson’s entry on California band Wavves when she became suspicious. The interview seemed too similar to a 2009 Interview magazine article she had recently read about the band.

Here’s a portion of Interview‘s story:

While most of his friends back in San Diego are busy smoking weed, playing video games, skateboarding, and complaining of boredom, 22-year-old Nathan Williams is busy writing and singing songs about smoking weed, playing video games, skateboarding,and being bored. It’s an irony not lost on the boyish-looking Southern California native, who, these days, is better known by the musical nom de plume Wavves.

And here’s Donaldson’s, with sentences that are identical to Interview‘s article in bold:

While most of his friends back in San Diego are busy smoking weed, playing video games, skateboarding, and complaining of boredom, 22-year-old Nathan Williams is busy writing and singing songs about smoking weed, playing video games, skateboarding, and being bored. It’s an irony not lost on the boyish-looking Southern California native, who, these days, is better known by the musical nom de plume Wavves. We’re under the assumption that it might be warm in April, the perfect time to get into the mood for sunny music.

In another case, Donaldson appears to have plagiarized from Australian website Novel’s description of house musician Julio Bashmore. Here’s Novel’s write-up:

One of the freshest talents coming out of Bristol, Julio Bashmore is such a master of the ins and outs of American house that he gives the impression that he was born there. His output over the past year or so has flitted around the edges, never quite moving in a straight line, roping new styles and sounds onto house foundations with an always playful, deft touch. The funky strut of Um Bongo’s Revenge, the old school piano on Jack Got Macked, Footsteppin’s rich, elastic, 2-step accented, grooves.

And Donaldson’s, with passages similar to Novel’s in bold:

Julio Bashmore’s output over the past year or so has flitted around the edges, never quite moving in a straight line, roping new styles and sounds onto house foundations with an always playful, deft touch. The funky strut of “Um Bongo’s Revenge,” the old school piano on “Jack Got Macked,” “Footsteppin’s” rich, elastic, 2-step accented, grooves. You weren’t in a club last year unless you heard his brilliant crossover pop-dance hit “Au Seve.”

Like with Wavves, Donaldson seems to have written the final sentence himself. After White and friend Marissa Cetin tweeted about the plagiarism, Donaldson’s byline disappeared from many of the blurbs, replaced instead with the names of, but not links to, the websites that the blurbs were taken from. By my count, 18 blurbs on the music guide are now attributed to other websites and publications, including Rolling Stone and Wikipedia.

Donaldson didn’t respond to a request for comment from City Desk, but in a tweet Cetin says he deleted after being contacted about the plagiarism, Donaldson describes himself as “in the process of unattributing myself + crediting sources.”

But of course, Donaldson did write some portions of the blurbs, which makes this hard to chalk up to just an accidental copy-and-pasting. White says she could have understood one accidental use of another website’s material, but not this many.  “When it’s every single one, it just seems really, A, careless and, B, straight up copy and paste plagiarism,” says White.

In an email, Brightest Young Things founder Svetlana Legetic acknowledged that some of Donaldson’s contributions to the music guide have had their attribution changed, referring to the blurbs as a “handful (of now rectified) missteps.”

While Legetic says that her site has a policy against plagiarism, that policy seems less harsh when it comes to guides.  “In the case of the GUIDES which are very lengthy and exhaustive and cover a plethora of artists between them it sometimes becomes hard reinventing the wheel in terms of band/genre descriptions,” Legetic writes. “Especially since most publications these days seem to work off of the same press release verbiage etc.”

In her email, Legetic worried that the focus of this blog post would be on Donaldson’s plagiarism and not the guide itself. “I would hate the focus on it to be the handful (of now rectified) missteps we are definitely aware of and have actively addressed, and not on the overall purpose of said guide (which is to have the BYT Music Team’s taste level on your side this Spring/Summer).”

Even better, Brightest Young Things readers won’t just have the Music Team on their side. They’ll have the Telegraph. And Wikipedia. And…

Read Legetic’s statement on the plagiarism, minus a paragraph about her phone number, below:

 

Having said that-BYT obviously has a strong non-plagiarism policy (we staff photography and writers for every single one of our live show/recap/interview stories which is probably more than 99.9% of internet can say-and trust me, people have copy and pasted our whole articles or original photos and run them as their own) but in the case of the GUIDES which are very lengthy and exhaustive and cover a plethora of artists between them it sometimes becomes hard reinventing the wheel in terms of band/genre descriptions, especially since most publications these days seem to work off of the same press release verbiage etc.

This should not say that the quotes should not have been properly accredited but out of 12,546 words this GUIDE has (literally) they don’t really make up enough of a story to not call the article our own or make the article a valuable and interesting resource for the DC music loving public.

I am free to chat on the phone, and I know how much you guys are into picking up on the mini BYT internet scandals that pop up here and there and I am always ok to comment but as someone who has participating in thousands of all original words in this guide I would hate the focus on it to be the handful (of now rectified) missteps we are definitely aware of and have actively addressed, and not on the overall purpose of said guide (which is to have the BYT Music Team’s taste level on your side this Spring/Summer).

Update, 3:00 p.m.: Cetin has written her own blog post about Donaldson’s blurbs.