News

Ex-Conference Board Author Speaks Out; Confirms “Push Back” From Copyright Lobby Funders

The following was posted late yesterday by Curtis Cook, one of the listed authors on the plagiarized Conference Board of Canada reports.  Cook's experience sheds new light on the Conference Board plagiarism story, including interference from copyright lobby funders, the exclusion of deBeer's research from the report, and the decision to lay blame on Cook, who had left the organization almost a full year before publication of the reports.  Cook's response has been reposted as a full blog post with his permission:

I have waited a week for the Conference Board to remove my name from its controversial intellectual property publications. On May 27 I wrote to Anne Golden to:

  1. Remove my name as an author from the publications (since I have not worked for the Conference Board for almost a year); and
  2. Publicly acknowledge that I was not responsible for the plagiarized content.

On June 1, I finally received a call from Anne Golden who did not address any of my concerns and abruptly ended the call by disconnecting. Here is what I know:

  • I was a full-time employee with the Conference Board between September 2007 and July 2008. I resigned almost a year ago to take a fulfilling job with a non-profit in British Columbia.
  • I submitted draft research to my former supervisor for the IP reports in mid-August 2008. I finished the research after I moved even though I was neither on salary nor on contract with the Board.
  • The research I submitted did NOT include the controversial passages or plagiarized content.
  • I worked with three contract researchers on this project between April 2008 and June 2008, including Jeremy deBeer, whose work I integrated into the draft. These researchers did not submit research that included the controversial/plagiarized content.
  • I had no involvement in any content changes and did not see these papers after I submitted them in August.
  • My new work was interrupted in mid-September by my former supervisor at the Conference Board to tell me there had been “push back” from one of the funding clients about the research and inclusion of Mr. deBeer’s contribution. I had quit almost two months earlier so this was of no concern to me.
  • Around the same time, my new work was also interrupted by a call from one of the funding clients who expressed similar concerns. Again, I informed him that I no longer had anything to do with these reports.
  • I received news of its publication on May 26, 2009, ten months after my resignation. I downloaded and read the research after I was informed of the controversy and was alarmed to see the direction it had taken.
  • I sent my letter to Anne Golden the following day.
  • The VP of Public Policy e-mailed me on May 29th to ask for my assistance in finding both researchers who could "fix" the reports, as well as external reviewers who would be impartial in reviewing the new work. His message stated that “I trust your judgment, experience and knowledge and would value your help.”

The Conference Board wants my help to fix reports that were published 10 months after my departure. It wants me to help fix publications that were re-written (and plagiarized) months after my departure and after they discarded the research I compiled and submitted. The Conference Board asks for my help but won't acknowledge that it was wrong to put my name on reports that bear little resemblance to the original research I submitted, were substantially reworked, and were published ten months after I resigned. After Anne Golden laid blame on contract researchers and supervisors late last week, I noticed two of the authors who still were listed on the organization's web site were no longer on the staff list.

I am not prepared to wait for Anne Golden to conduct the review she promises because I have a pretty good sense of what happened, even though my involvement with the Conference Board and these reports ended with the submission of credible research 10 months ago. I am curious to see if my account results in some form of backlash, if the Conference Board is prepared to dig a deeper hole for itself or if more fiction will surface.

Update: Canwest and Techdirt have posted stories on these latest developments.

39 Comments

  1. Unfortunately…
    This whole issue at the very least puts under suspicion any report produced by the CBoC. It can also put suspicion on any research carried out with funding from a corporate stakeholder. There are far too many stories of studies being carried out for a company where the results get buried because they don’t like the outcome; the pharmaceutical companies have done this for years.

  2. SARKOZY SAYS 1$ FER YOU says:

    Furthar proof this is treason to deal wiht hollywood
    YES treason, they are messing with the “spirit” of what a lobbyist should be and the end will be that all of it needs to be made illegal. With Brian Mulroney to this we can see that once in gov’t almost all politicians are bribable and in my humble opinion ANY monetary or asset gain one receives while in office should constitute an offense as well as up to 5 years after.

    Making that 5years after wold put the clamp down on that oil type reward system that harper will enjoy.
    YOU are representing the people of Canada NOT a foreign power and if you go against that it is in it’s harshest term we call “TREASON”.

    ———–
    In law, treason is the crime that covers some of the more serious acts of disloyalty to one’s sovereign or nation.

    # a crime that undermines the offender’s government
    # disloyalty by virtue of subversive behavior
    # treachery: an act of deliberate betrayal

    “Every one commits treason who, in Canada, (a) uses force or violence for the purpose of overthrowing the government of Canada or a province; (b) without lawful authority, communicates or makes available to an agent of a state other than Canada, military or scientific information or any sketch, plan, model, article, note or document of a military or scientific character that he knows or ought to know may be used by that state for a purpose prejudicial to the safety or defence of Canada; (c) conspires with any person to commit high treason or to do anything mentioned in paragraph (a); (d) forms an intention to do anything that is high treason or that is mentioned in paragraph (a) and manifests that intention by an overt act; or (e) conspires with any person to do anything mentioned in paragraph (b) or forms an intention to do anything mentioned in paragraph (b) and manifests that intention by an overt act.”

    ———–
    This act should be amended to reflect that alrge corproations form other lands NOT be allowed to get a full lobbying power as there not in Canadian interests.
    One could use the foreign ownership rules as a guideline saying that unless CRIA has more Canadian artists then american ones that it represents in Canada it cannot and should not be allowed ot lobby govt , thus this makes a push for canuck artists to form THERE OWN association free of them and all ties, in order to get any lobby/say in polices. Same rules can easily apply to film and other media. IT PUTS the COMPLETE smack down or a beginning of one on any and all easy hand some cash to CRIA to hand it to harper type a crap for a BILL C61.

    http://www.gov.ns.ca/legislature/legc/bills/58th_1st/1st_read/b005.htm

  3. Curtis Cook
    Wow. Dude. By your account, you have been sooo wronged.

    I can’t understand how anyone in good conscience could take a work and so contort it and still put the name of author of the original work on the new work. Oh, right. We are talking about the copyright lobby’s newest mouthpiece, a.k.a. the CBoC. No good conscience there I guess.

    I suppose they just dug through the list of people whose name they could slap on that paper with little fear of retribution (i.e. no current researchers with access to the current research).

    Seriously, how can any research organization be taken seriously when they won’t even put the name of a current researcher on their work?

    Curtis, personally, if your account is accurate (and I have no reason to believe it is not) I think you should be seeking legal advise regarding this situation. If you want to continue a career as a researcher, allowing your name to be attached to this paper can only interfere with that desire, I’d imagine.

    Prof. Geist, you really must hold the CBoC’s feet to the fire on this new bit of info.

    Geez. Seems like everywhere the copyright consortium goes now, it leaves a trail of deceit and corruption behind it.

  4. Don’t forget to send this to the CBC.ca, Michael.
    Let CBC.ca know about this Michael, so they can do a follow up to their previous articles on the topic.

  5. The plot thickens …
    This information is particularly interesting on the heels of the interview by Search Engine’s Jesse Brown of Anne Golden. In that interview she explicitly states:

    “… we are often asked by different groups that have a point of view or even advocacy groups to examine, independently, an issue. The reason we are asked is because we are independent. In every instance we tell the investor or the sponsor that they have no control over the outcome of our research.”

    Overlay that quote with two of Curtis Cook’s bullet from above:
    - My new work was interrupted in mid-September by my former supervisor at the Conference Board to tell me there had been “push back” from one of the funding clients about the research and inclusion of Mr. deBeer’s contribution. I had quit almost two months earlier so this was of no concern to me.
    - Around the same time, my new work was also interrupted by a call from one of the funding clients who expressed similar concerns. Again, I informed him that I no longer had anything to do with these reports.

    Wow!

    Dr. Geist, I agree with comments by Brian i.e., stay the course of holding the Conference Board accountable for this outrageous situation.

  6. Outraged says:

    Anne Golden’s predictable resposne

    How long before a smarmy oped from Anne Golden dismissing Curtis Cook’s claims appears in the National Post, where her nephew, Jonathan Kay, runs the OpEd pages?

    Keep speaking out, Curtis – and thank you, Michael Geist, for providing this vital forum.

  7. Matematik says:

    The reports aren’t dead yet
    It’s quite possible that a year or two from now, the CBoC reports will be used by lobbyists and politicians, despite the reports being retracted by the CBoC themselves.

  8. Wrong link?
    The link on the word “posted” leads to an older article on this site, not Mr. Cook’s site like I expected it to (if he has one). If he does can you please provide a link to it?

  9. No Mark,

    Curtis actually posted in Michael’s comments section of that article. Scroll to the bottom.

  10. The link is correct!
    @Mark: Mr. Cook wrote in the comments of that post (you have to scroll down)

  11. Golden
    Enough is enough already, when will Anne Golden fall on her sword?!? The writings on the wall, the longer this goes on the more and more credible sources come out of the woodwork to discredit Golden and the Conference Board even further. This perilous clinging to power is now pathetic. Suck it up, admit your mistakes and wrongdoings and please fade into the obscurity you belong.

  12. Maebnoom says:

    Surprised? Hardly.
    The only thing that surprises me about this is the fact that this story actually got to the public. This kind of thing is quite commonplace; it just that 99 times out of 100 the tampering of such research projects does not get discovered.

    This is yet more proof that the copyright lobbyists et al are not to be trusted, and are the real criminals in this entire mess.

    Unfortunately, I still don’t expect to see much coverage on this beyond an op ed article or 3 in a few newspapers. This needs to hit something much more substantial, like a piece on The National. Otherwise, the *vast majority* of Canadians will continue to be in the dark, and lobbyists/CRIA’s claims will still have much more credibility in the public’s & government’s eyes than it rightfully deserves.

    They may actually deserve no credibility at all; I’d say they are, at the very least, borderline criminals.

  13. Henry Morgan says:

    packing and going to law school
    I demand that they give back the 15,000$ they stole from tax payers for this non-credible and fictitious piece of work for the benefit of a “funder”.

    Would such things not fall directly in the Competitions Bureau’s lap? From their website:

    Conspiracy, Section 45

    Section 45 is the cornerstone cartel provision of the Competition Act. It makes it a criminal offence when two or more persons agree or arrange to prevent or lessen competition unduly or to unreasonably enhance the price of a good or service. This offence is known as a “conspiracy” and is punishable by a fine of up to ten million dollars, or imprisonment for a term of up to five years, or both.

    Learn more…

    In a prosecution of a conspiracy offence, the prosecutor must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the accused had entered into an agreement or arrangement which, if implemented, would or would likely prevent or lessen competition unduly or enhance prices unreasonably. The courts have ruled that the word “unduly” expresses a notion of seriousness and significance. It is a combination of market power and behaviour likely to injure competition that makes a lessening of competition undue.

    Foreign Directives, Section 46

    Section 46 makes it a criminal offence for a company carrying on business in Canada to implement any foreign directive intended to give effect to a conspiracy entered into outside of Canada that would contravene section 45 if it had been entered into in Canada.

    Learn more…

    This provision is targeted specifically at international cartel activity affecting Canada. It allows the application of the Competition Act even in situations where the actual conspirators are not located or incorporated in Canada. Penalties include a fine in the discretion of the court.

    Although this isn’t “bid-rigging” per se, it is fraudulent and does affect the tax payer and the market and the consumer.

    Section 47
    “Bid-rigging is a fraudulent practice that cheats companies and governments, and hence consumers and taxpayers, out of the benefits that a competitive marketplace would normally produce.”

    Here you had a “funder” rigging the reports with the apparent go-ahead of CBoC. The “funder” even goes so far as to find this guy while working to have him change stuff, which he doesn’t.

    Then “whats her name” says it was the contract researchers who did this.

    Makes me want to go to law school to learn more. hehe This website turns me on to law!

    Wonder if there are any other laws this falls under. Surely there must be something on the books about defrauding the public with OUR tax payer money on made up foreign reports at the blessing of the CBoC and its “funders”.

    Angers me that “whats her name” has the guts to say, “oh these 3 reports were not included with the money we took from tax payers”. Its insult to injury.

    Guess Industry Canada will just say, “let market forces decide”, again.

  14. Check facts
    The Conference Board stands accused of insufficient rigour in its research and no doubt a response to these most recent accusations will be forthcoming. They have admitted to plagiarism and failing to follow their defined procedures. Many here and elsewhere have commented on the irony of this being an IP report.

    Equally ironic is the apparent intemperance of many of the comments one reads here and elsewhere vis a vis:

    1. I think it is now an established FACT that the Ontario Government did not in fact fund the report. So give up on complaining about your tax dollars
    2. It has never been suggested that the federal government provided any funding and yet many seem to focus on Harper or Industry Canada – they really have nothing to do with it.
    3. Enough already with the moral outrage and calls for Anne Golden and others to be hung from the nearest lamppost for treason or whatever. Get a sense of proportion and please address the substance of the issue here

  15. David Scott says:


    Before we all declare victory over the forces of evil and pass this link around to our friends in order to illustrate that our government is not only ridiculous but also corrupt, do we have a way to confirm that the Curtis Cook who posted that comment is who he says he is? There are a lot of inventive people out there on the Internet.

  16. CBoC should end up on some government “black” list where they’re can no longer produce reports for the government or receive any funding from it.

    @David
    Curtis’ statements just add to list of previous evidence that CBoC is ridiculous and corrupt. I’ve reached that conclusion before seeing his comments.

  17. Darryl Moore says:

    They did the same thing last year too.
    I think what really hurt the CBoC is that this time they got caught. Here is almost the exact same conference they held last year. Same report authors, same speakers, same topics.

    http://www.ogilvyrenault.com/files/Intellectual_Property_Rights.pdf

    I’d love to see last years report, I bet it looked exactly the same as this years.

  18. Darryl Moore says:

    Interestingly doing a google search for

    Intellectual Property Rights Conference: A Catalyst for Innovation

    brings up several links for last years conference. The links to the CBoC website don’t work, but the google caches from 2 weeks ago do. Is there a website issue, or are they practicing damage control?

  19. Darryl Moore says:

    … never mind my paranoia. The links are working now…..

  20. Sal67284 says:

    @marduk

    “admitted to plagiarism and failing to follow their defined procedures.”

    That’s just the tip of it. I would really like them to address where they did in fact show that they are

    The foremost independent, objective and non-partisan research organization in Canada.

    From this scandal it doesn’t seem like it at all. Quite the opposite in fact. If Dr. Geist had never brought this to the attention of Canadians, we would have been hearing IP lobbyists boast about these reports til the cows came home. I want the government for once to show that they are indeed acting in the best interest of Canadians and not American Corps.

  21. I support a 3-strikes law
    Hi,
    I support a 3-strikes law
    I want everyone who downloads anything to be guilty of tax evasion
    I want people to pay to watch youtube
    I think its a great idea to charge a premium to access Wikipedia
    I think MS updates should be free but nix updates should be charged a B/W fee.
    I think this website should be censored in clean-feed.
    I think everyone who posts here is a terrorist and should be locked up in gitmo

    Signed lead author and researcher,
    marduk

  22. Stoneman says:

    Wow
    The real question here folks is, how deep down the rabbit hole do you really want to go, Neo?

  23. Anon Name says:

    Ontario residents: email your representatives and press them
    Quote from Facebook site:

    http://www.facebook.com/topic.php?uid=6315846683&topic=10090

    Martin Leduc

    Well thanks to the Search Engine interview with Anne Golden I think we all know now what the angle is: The Conference Board seems to be trying to diffuse public criticism by arguing that the government funds were for the conference in which the reports would be presented rather than for the reports themselves.

    Personally I don’t find this technical detail to be very relevant, so despite the Globe’s generous stenography of the Conference Board’s PR, I think it is appropriate to repost the contact information of the politicians who should be dealing with this scandal.

    And I once again encourage any willing Ontario residents to email your representatives and press them to:
    a) Get back the 15,000 tax dollars that were spent on the conference.
    b) Investigate the Conference Board’s other reports to see if they have used further tax money for lobbying.
    c) If an investigation warrants it, end The Conference Board of Canada’s relationship as a “partner” research organization with the Ministry of Research and Innovation.

    John Wilkinson Minister of Research and Innovation: john.wilkinson@ontario.ca

    Gilles Bisson, NDP critic for Research and Innovation:
    gilles@gillesbisson.com

    General Contact Page for the Ministry of Research and Innovation:
    http://www.mri.gov.on.ca/english/contact/default.asp

  24. Anon Name says:

    This may be relevant too
    This may be relevant too:

    http://www.facebook.com/topic.php?uid=6315846683&topic=10090

  25. Anon Name says:

    PLEASE post the original draft to Wikileaks
    everyone wants to compare what has been added and removed from these now-plagiarized reports.

  26. I don’t believe any of the things attributed to me
    My first, and only genuine, post was intended to insert some moderation into the dialogue….

    For the record I don’t agree with the findings of the Board’s research and I strongly suspect that something untoward happened internally with the reports…

    However what you all also have to recognize I think is that organizations are by their very nature burdened by a certain inertia. Posters on blogs on the other hand have license to share opinions based on heresay, inuendo, speculation, exageration, prejudice and outright lies. We none of us have a monopoly on truth.

    The Board claim they are running an internal review. To expect them to produce an instant response is naive. It’s unfortunate as their silence is causing them considerable harm.

    And posting comments claiming to be someone you’re not just cheapens the dialogue. You should all be better than that.

  27. toilet clog says:

    Need some drain-o
    I think I’ll rewrite one of Harpers and Anne Golden speeches and sign their name on it.

    No harm done.

    Wonder if I can get 15,000$ out of John Wilkinson, Minister of Research and Innovation for my independent and unbiased think-tank plagiarized, fake and forged rewrite? I’ll write and ask.

    Anyone want to fund my rewrite? I’ll put in whatever you want added for a cost.

    Whats good for the propaganda goose is good for the propaganda gander.

  28. I'm the marduk imposter says:

    Put yourself in his shoes.
    marduk said:
    “Get a sense of proportion and please address the substance of the issue here”.
    and
    “And posting comments claiming to be someone you’re not just cheapens the dialogue. You should all be better than that.”

    You didn’t like it, did you?

    Now place yourself in Mr. Cook’s shoes after he asked that his name be removed, and later Golden says the authors wrote it and are no longer with us.

    I wouldn’t be pleased. And I see you were not.

    Who cheapened what?

    Sorry if I come across as militant or something, but I do think your eyeballs need to open a bit more. What was just done to you was what the CBoC and its “funders” did to Mr. Cooks by adding their propaganda and signing his name to it.

  29. Someone elses shoes….
    Actually I wasn’t really bothered – I just think antics such as these cheapen the dialogue……you do believe in dialogue don’t you…?

    And the situation was not really analogous….someone here delibirately impersonated me. The Board left Mr Cook’s name on a report.

    I happen to think that if Mr Cook’s account is correct, and I personally must say I believe it is, then the Board should publicly apologise and remove his name from the site.

    I have never understood why people in authority find it so hard to admit when they have made a mistake as if it diminishes them. It could be that the rabid attacks they witness put them on the defensive.

    I would love to see the Board reclaim their reputation through coming clean on what happened and inviting Dr Geist to participate fully in some future IP related research. Plus they should give any monies back to the funders.

    But I don’t think a personalized witch hunt is in order. This is a contentious field and as a starting point I think respect trumps contempt any day.

  30. David Scott says:

    confirmation, please
    @AB Hey man, you’re preaching to the choir. There’s no question in my mind that Stephen Harper would sell out his people in a heartbeat to U.S. entertainment industry lobbyists. And given the balance of power and influence between a huge industry and ordinary citizens, any “impartial” organization claiming that more draconian copyright laws would be good should be viewed with much suspicion. However, one of the central issues to this whole story has been the intellectual laziness and obvious partisanship of the CBoC. Should we not hold ourselves to the same standards we hold them to? I’m not concerned so much with Dr. Geist. The world moves at a pretty fast pace these days, and it’s increasingly easy to jump the gun and report on an exciting development before everything has been completely checked out. After all, if this is true, then the CBoC plunges into a disastrous and deserved scandal and all the “three strikes and you’re out” evangelists are set back at least a few more years. And Dr. Geist may very well have contacted Curtis Cook and confirmed his post. I hope to see something like that in the near future. What worries me is that so few seem to be asking for that confirmation before reporting on this story. Do those of us who want a less heavy handed approach to copyright, like the people we oppose, not need any evidence to back up our claims? I haven’t found a single reference out there to this story that doesn’t reference the comment on Dr. Geist’s blog and this blog post as its sole source, but that doesn’t seem to be making anyone less eager to spread it. That’s kind of scary. Not needing evidence leads us towards fundamentalism, and we know better than to want a world like that.

  31. michael geist says:

    Confirmation
    To address several comments, yes, I contacted Curtis Cook directly and confirmed that it was him. As mentioned in the blog post, he gave his permission for the repost. Further, the Canwest story indicates that the reporter spoke directly with him as well.

  32. More heads will roll at Conference Board
    More heads will roll at Conference Board over this mess. Anne Golden will never admit responsibility and will not hesitate to fire a few people in the name of leadership. This supposedly “not-for-profit” and “charitable” organization has been transformed into a mean consulting machine focused on profits. Nothing wrong with this as long as you pay taxes like any other consulting firm.

  33. Al Genest says:

    The General Motors of think tanks
    Questionable leadership
    Shoddy products
    Inappropriate bonus plans for senior management
    No sense of direction
    Generous government support
    Bankrupt?….morally yes, financially..give it time

  34. David Scott says:

    confirmation: thanks
    @michael geist: Great news! (Well, not that this happened, but that it looks like the CBoC has some pretty damning evidence against them and will not likely be able to try something like this again) Thank you for clearing that up.

  35. Morale Booster says:

    Daily Affirmation by what’s her name
    I’m good enough
    I’m smart enough
    and doggone it
    You must like me

  36. More coverage here
    More coverage of this Curtis Cook revelation

    http://news.google.ca/news/more?ned=ca&cf=all&ncl=dIW0lib_v_v1FdMl6ecLGsDNeVV7M

  37. woodlandestate says:

    Lake Cabin Rentals
    Woodland Estate have beautiful Lakefront Cabins . Our cabins are located throughout the Smokiness, offering the common facilities like fireplaces, hot tubs, and Jacuzzis, but they also offer unique cabin amenities and features like private docks and boat launches.http://www.woodlandestate.com/

  38. papers
    organization has been transformed into a mean consulting machine focused on profits. Nothing wrong with this as long as you pay taxes like any other consulting firm.

  39. writing
    To address several comments, yes, I contacted Curtis Cook directly and confirmed that it was him. As mentioned in the blog post, he gave his permission for the repost coursework writing