Pickle Publishing "Stolen, Plagiarized Material" Research Papers

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A Response to the Video:
Seventh-day Adventism, the Spirit Behind the Church

by Bob Pickle

Answers to Questions Raised by:
Mark Martin, Sydney Cleveland
Dale Ratzlaff, The White Lie
. . . and
Others

Discern Fact from Fiction


Jehovah's Witnesses, Cont.; Plagiarism

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#102: "Her major books, including Patriarchs and Prophets, The Desire of Ages, The Spirit of Prophecy, The Great Controversy, Selected Messages, The Acts of the Apostles, Christ's Object Lessons, Counsels on Stewardship, Evangelism, Fundamentals of Christian Education, Gospel Workers, Messages to Young People, the Ministry of Healing, My Life Today, Prophets and Kings, Sons and Daughters of God, Steps to Christ, Testimonies to the Church, Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, and others contain plagiarized material stolen from earlier writers."—Narrator.

#102: All these books contain "stolen" material. A major problem is the use of the word "stolen." In order for Mrs. White to have "stolen" words and thoughts from another writer, those words and thoughts had to legally belong to them and not to her. You can't steal what you already own.

Until 1909, portions of the words and thoughts of other writers, along with the general flow of topics in a manuscript, were in the public domain. They did not belong solely to the writer, and so could not be "stolen" from him or her. While the entire work belonged to the writer, some wording and thoughts could be used by another without "stealing."

Perusal of The White Lie indicates that what Mrs. White did at times, in the borrowing of some words and thoughts from other writers (like the Bible writers did), was to make a "derivative work." A derivative work is not one that has been copied verbatim. It is a work that is based on and derived from another work. [p. 75]

From the previous section it is clear that either Jude or Peter made a derivative work based on the other's epistle. Either Jude or Peter took thoughts from the other and utilized them in writing his own work. That's a derivative work, not a plagiarized work.

Making a derivative work without permission from the original author became illegal in 1909. Interestingly, as The White Lie points out on page 49, 1909 was the very year that Mrs. White requested that credit to the historians quoted from in Great Controversy be added in the next edition. This suggests that when it first became possible to steal material in this manner, Mrs. White took the needed precautions to prevent such occurrences.

Though the term "proper credit" took on a new definition that year, 1909 wasn't the first time she expressed concern about such issues. This is indicated by her comments in the April 14 issue of Review and Herald, comments regarding "proper credit" that was given to a particular author. Oh, the year? 1868.

Rest assured that whatever "proper credit" meant at the time, Mrs. White endeavored to make sure it was given. It's just that society didn't consider any sort of credit necessary when making a derivative work.

The list of books that the narrator gave, with two exceptions, comes from pages 173-175 of The White Lie, photocopies of which appear under "Point 54a" and "Point 54b" in the documentation package. These photocopies also give a list of "plagiarized" sources. At the top of the list on page 175 is this entry:

Nichols, Francis Davis, Ed.
The S.D.A. Bible Commentary
Washington, D.C., Review & Herald
Pub., 7 vol., 1953-1957

So according to The White Lie, Mrs. White even borrowed from books published 38-42 years after her death? Must be a typo, but that's what it says.

If The White Lie had been written to provide answers rather than to raise doubts, some of its content would be radically different. Take for example this statement on page 147:

Please observe that the artists' signatures on the drawings have been altered. In some cases, Pacific Press, Oakland, Cal., has been inserted in place of the artist's signature; in others, the signatures have either been obliterated or cut off, and Pacific Press, Oakland, Cal. added below.

Then follows five examples of artwork appearing in the 1886 printing of volume 4 of Spirit of Prophecy, artwork that was taken from Wylie's History of Protestantism.

In the last of the five examples of artwork, "Swain SC" is substituted with "Pacific Press, Oakland, Cal." "SC" is an abbreviation for the Latin word sculpsit, a word meaning "he engraved it." Since Pacific Press had to re-engrave the picture before they could print it, Swain was no longer the engraver, and they had every right to replace his name with theirs.

Now let's examine some of the other pictures in light of this discovery. In both the second and fourth examples of the five, the artist's initials in the lower right-hand corner are retained in Pacific Press's copy. Only the engraver's signature in the lower left of both pictures was replaced. No credit being given?

Whether Mr. Rea discovered these "stolen" pictures on his own, or whether he borrowed the idea from a 1930's issue of E. S. Ballenger's The Gathering Call, his book does not say. But it is a simple fact that the White Estate produced documents to answer such charges in the 1930's, proving that the right to use the artwork had been paid for.

Cassell and Company, who owned the rights to the illustrations in question, had offices in London, New York, and Melbourne. Mrs. White's son, W. C. White, coordinated negotiations with all three offices. By giving specific credit to Cassell for every picture used, they saved themselves 40% of the price when using them in the British Adventist paper. But for Spirit of Prophecy, volume 4, they opted for paying the full price and omitting the credits ("Did The Great Controversy Contain Stolen Illustrations?").

So the Whites endeavored to do everything appropriately, but even if something got overlooked, we shouldn't crucify them for it. The best of us sometimes goof.

Take for example the video's jacket, copyrighted by an organization associated with Mark Martin, the video's executive producer. In the upper left corner is a translucent, ghost-like picture of Mrs. White behind a church. This picture apparently was first published in 1960, having been "recently discovered" at that time (The Spirit of Prophecy Treasure Chest, p. 172). That being so, Mr. Martin should have enquired with the White Estate before using it. Since the White Estate has no recollection of such an enquiry, and Mr. Martin declines to comment, apparently Mr. Martin forgot to ensure that he was not violating any copyright laws. Perhaps it was just an oversight.

A Response to the Video

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