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.

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