Germany’s Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen denies claims she plagiarized parts of her doctoral thesis.
The crowd-sourced plagiarism hunting website VroniPlag Wiki claims to have found “elements of plagiarism” on 27 of the 62 pages of Ursula von der Leyen’s 1990 dissertation.
Ursula von der Leyen said she had asked her university to have her thesis evaluated after she learned of the allegations.
Two previous cabinet ministers have stepped down after plagiarism scandals.
Ursula von der Leyen told German media that it was “not new, that internet activists seek to spread doubts on the dissertations of politicians”.
She found out in August that her doctoral thesis was under scrutiny after a tip-off, she told Westfalenpost, and on the same day contacted Hanover Medical School. She has asked them to have an “expert and neutral” commission examine her dissertation, she said.
Ursula von der Leyen, of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s centre-right CDU party, qualified as a doctor in 1987 and was awarded a doctorate in medicine in 1991, according to her website.
She worked as a gynecologist and in public health, and had seven children, before entering politics – initially in the state assembly in Lower Saxony.
Ursula von der Leyen became a federal cabinet minister in Angela Merkel’s first government, in 2005, and has been defense minister since 2013.
Angela Merkel has already lost two cabinet ministers after their respective universities withdrew their doctoral titles following plagiarism claims.
In 2011, then-Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg resigned after he was found to have copied large parts of his thesis.
In 2013, Education Minister Annette Schavan was forced to step down after her alma mater withdrew her degree.
However, it is not just conservative German politicians who have fallen victims to plagiarism allegations – Silvana Koch-Mehrin from the liberal FDP resigned as vice-president of the European Parliament in 2011 after claims that she did not properly source her university thesis.
Silvana Koch-Mehrin’s university subsequently stripped her of her doctoral title.
British-Indian sculptor Anish Kapoor has complained of plagiarism following reports that a sculpture similar to Cloud Gate he made for Chicago has been constructed in China.
The artist said in a statement: “It seems that in China today it is permissible to steal the creativity of others.”
According to Chinese media, the stainless steel work in the town of Karamay, north-west China, is intended to represent “a big oil bubble”.
Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate was unveiled in Chicago in 2006.
The sculpture, which reflects Chicago’s dramatic skyline, is also known as The Bean. It featured prominently in Source Code, a 2011 thriller starring Jake Gyllenhaal.
“I feel I must take this to the highest level and pursue those responsible in the courts,” Anish Kapoor said.
“I hope that the Mayor of Chicago will join me in this action.
“The Chinese authorities must act to stop this kind of infringement and allow the full enforcement of copyright.”
An employee of Karamay’s tourism bureau denied that the Chinese sculpture was a copy of Anish Kapoor’s, insisting any similarities were coincidental.
“While we use similar materials, the shapes and meanings are different,” Ma Jun told the Wall Street Journal’s China Real Time blog.
“Cloud Gate intends to reflect the sky, but ours reflects the ground.”
Piracy of goods, brands and copyrighted materials is so rife in China that there is a word for the results – Shan Zhai, a term originally used to describe a bandit stronghold outside government control.
Anish Kapoor is known for works including the Orbit tower in London’s Olympic Park and the Sky Mirror in Nottingham.
His more recent works include Dirty Corner, a 200ft steel tube in the gardens of France’s Palace of Versailles, which has caused controversy and has been the target of vandalism.
District Judge John A. Kronstadt has cut more than $1 million from the damages Pharrell Williams was ordered to pay after the Blurred Lines copyright trial.
The case revolved around the question of whether Pharrell Williams and his co-writer Robin Thicke had copied Marvin Gaye’s 1977 hit Got To Give It Up.
In March, a jury ruled that they had, and awarded Marvin Gaye’s family $7.3 million in damages.
However, District Judge John A. Kronstadt has now slashed that to $5.3 million.
The cut comprises a reduction in actual damages from $4 million to just under $3.2 million, and a drop in the profits that Pharrell Williams has to turn over from about $1.6 million to about $358,000.
The judge also gave Marvin Gaye’s family a 50% cut of future earnings from the song, but rejected a request that would have temporarily blocked sales and performances of the track.
Judge Kronstadt’s ruling also refused a request by Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams’ lawyers for a new trial.
In March, jurors found that rapper TI, who received a songwriting credit and a share of the royalties for his verse on Blurred Lines, did not commit copyright infringement – but Judge Kronstadt ruled that other elements of the jury’s verdict mean he must be included in the judgment.
He also found that found that Interscope Records, Universal Music Group and Star Trak Entertainment were liable.
Marvin Gaye family lawyer Richard Busch said he was “thrilled” the court had affirmed the jury’s decision on copyright infringement.
“As far as the reduction in damages, we are reviewing that, and the Court’s analysis on that issue, and will be discussing internally our options,” he added.
Pharrell Williams’ lawyer Howard King added: “While we certainly respect the diligence and care devoted by the court throughout these proceedings, we must agree to disagree on the conclusions.”
“We look forward to exercising our further remedies and ultimately achieving clarity on the difference between inspiration and copyright infringement.”
Nominated for record of the year at the 2013 Grammys, Blurred Lines was a No 1 on both sides of the Atlantic and one of the biggest-selling songs of the year.
Since its release, Blurred Lines has earned nearly $16.5 million in profits, according to court documents, with Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke making more than $5 million each.
At the trial, Pharrell Willliams contended that he was only trying to mimic the “feel” of Marvin Gaye’s music and insisted he did not use elements of his idol’s work.
The ruling paves the way for the next phase of the showdown when Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams are expected to take the dispute to an appeals court.
Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines – one of the best-selling singles of all time – copied a Marvin Gaye’s hit Got To Give It Up, a Los Angeles jury has ruled.
Jurors in Los Angeles decided that the 2013 single by Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke breached the copyright of Marvin Gaye’s 1977 hit.
The family of the late soul singer has been awarded $7.3 million in damages.
Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams denied copying the hit, and their lawyer said the ruling set a “horrible precedent”.
Marvin Gaye died in April 1984, leaving his children the copyright to his music.
His children – Nona, Frankie and Marvin Gaye III – sued Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams in 2013. Nona Gaye wept as the verdict was read in court.
“Right now, I feel free,” she told reporters after the ruling.
“Free from… Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke’s chains and what they tried to keep on us and the lies that were told.”
In court, Pharrell Williams had told jurors that Marvin Gaye’s music was part of the soundtrack of his youth but he insisted it was not on his mind when he wrote the song.
The musician recognized a likeness between the songs and agreed he was “channeling… that late-70s feeling” when he co-wrote the song.
Robin Thicke testified that he had contributed little to the writing of the song.
“While we respect the judicial process, we are extremely disappointed in the ruling made today, which sets a horrible precedent for music and creativity going forward,” the pair’s lawyer Howard E King said.
“We are reviewing the decision, considering our options and you will hear more from us soon about this matter.”
Blurred Lines, which earned a Grammy nomination, generated more than $16 million in profits and made more than $5 million for Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke.
Pharrell Williams denies copying Marvin Gaye’s 1977 song Got to Give It Up for the hit single Blurred Lines.
However, the singer admits he was “channelling… that late-70s feeling” when he co-wrote the song.
Pharrell Williams, Robin Thicke and rapper TI are being sued by Marvin Gaye’s family over similarities between Got to Give It Up and Blurred Lines.
In court, Pharrell Williams said Marvin Gaye’s work was not on his mind when he wrote the song, but he later recognized a likeness.
“Sometimes when you look back on your past work, you see echoes of people.”
“But that doesn’t mean that’s what you were doing,” Pharrell Williams testified in court in Los Angeles.
Pharrell Williams, Robin Thicke and rapper TI – real name Clifford Harris Jr – all deny copying Got to Give It Up for the song, a number one hit in 2013.
Expressing his admiration for Marvin Gaye, Pharrell Williams said: “The last thing you want to do as a creator is take something of someone else’s when you love him.”
Photo Getty Images
“I respect his music beyond words,” he added.
During his testimony on March 4, Pharrell Williams was played extracts of both his and Marvin Gaye’s compositions, stripped down to their basic song structure.
Listening to the juxtaposed bass lines, Pharrell Williams responded: “It sounds like you’re playing the same thing”, but argued that some of the note progressions had been shifted in pitch so they sounded more alike.
His comments appeared to prompt Robin Thicke, who was attending the trial, to leave the courtroom.
Both Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke have testified that Williams was the principle creator of Blurred Lines, which generated more than $16 million in profits and made more than $5 million for both stars.
Speaking in court, Pharrell Williams said it took him three days of “surfing around” at Burbank’s Glenwood Place Studios, in June 2012, before he hit upon the composition for the 2013 song.
“In this case I started with drums,” he said in court, adding that he was influenced by two other recordings he was making at that time – for Miley Cyrus and Earl Sweatshirt.
“I was doing a bunch of country-sounding music with Miley,” he said.
“It was like blending this country sound with this up-tempo groove.”
“Once you have a groove, then you’re pretty much allowing the groove to tell you what’s next,” Pharrell Williams said, describing his writing process.
He said he completed the instrumentals in about an hour. Robin Thicke joined him that evening, and they immediately started recording the vocals, Pharrell Williams told the court.
Last week, Robin Thicke testified that he had contributed little to the writing of the song.
In a pre-trial deposition deposition he admitted he was “high on Vicodin and alcohol when I showed up at the studio” and “wanted to be more involved than I actually was”.
Marvin Gaye’s children – Frankie and Nona – are seeking money from sales and touring, as well as damages. During opening arguments, a lawyer for Marvin Gaye’s children estimated damages at $40 million.
True Detective creator has denied claims that dialogue from its main character has been copied from a pre-existing work.
Writer Nic Pizzolatto said “nothing in the show is plagiarized”, adding Rust Cohle’s thoughts “are not unique to any one author”.
A blog post contended that his words are “borrowed” from other authors, particularly Thomas Ligotti.
True Detective creator has denied claims that dialogue from its main character has been copied from a pre-existing work
Broadcaster HBO called True Detective “a work of exceptional originality”.
“The story, plot, characters and dialogue are that of Nic Pizzolatto,” the network’s statement continued.
“Philosophical concepts are free for anyone to use, including writers of fiction, and there have been many such examples in the past.”
“We stand by the show, its writing and Nic Pizzolatto entirely,” HBO concluded.
Nic Pizzolatto maintains that his talented but troubled chief protagonist, played by Oscar-winning actor Matthew McConaughey, is an “autodidact pessimist” who “speaks toward that philosophy with erudition and in his own words”.
“The ideas within this philosophy are certainly not exclusive to any writer,” he added.
Blog writer Mike Davis, responding to research carried out by Jon Padgett of the Thomas Ligotti Online website, claimed “exact quotes” by author Thomas Ligotti had been used in scripts for True Detective.
Led Zeppelin faces a legal dispute over the song Stairway to Heaven, widely seen as one of the greatest rock compositions of all time.
The copyright infringement action is being taken on behalf of late guitarist Randy California, who played on the same bill as Led Zeppelin in the 1960s.
Randy California’s lawyers say that he should be given a writing credit on the 1971 track.
According to Bloomberg Businessweek, the eight-minute song had earned $562 million as of 2008.
The magazine says that the song was so profitable in part because Led Zeppelin did not release it as a single, leaving fans with no option but to buy the entire album, which is untitled but known as Led Zeppelin IV.
The famous Stairway to Heaven opening guitar riff loosely resembles guitar work on Spirit’s instrumental Taurus
Both Led Zeppelin and Warner Music have said they will not comment on the allegations.
Media reports say that the court case is likely to be based on allegations that the famous Stairway to Heaven opening guitar riff loosely resembles guitar work on an instrumental called Taurus.
Taurus was written by Randy California’s Los Angeles-based psychedelic band, Spirit, in 1968.
The plaintiffs include Spirit’s founding bassist Mark Andes and a trust that manages royalties for Randy California, who died in 1997 trying to save his son from drowning.
Randy California is quoted by Bloomberg Businessweek as describing Stairway to Heaven as a “rip-off” shortly before he died.
“It is fairly blatant, and note for note,” Mark Andes told Bloomberg Businessweek.
“It would just be nice if the Led Zeppelin guys gave Randy a little nod. That would be lovely.”
Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page is reputed to have begun writing Stairway to Heaven in 1970 in a remote cottage in Wales.
Earlier this month the band unveiled two previously unheard recordings ahead of the re-issue in June of its first three albums.
Jimmy Page, now 70, meanwhile has scotched rumors of a reunion concert.
For a band that broke up in 1980, following the death of the drummer John Bonham, interest in Led Zeppelin remains intense.
One Direction band is accused of plagiarism over the video for their latest single You & I.
Australian production company Oh Yeah Wow claims One Direction’s You & I clip is copied from a video it shot for Clubfeet’s Everything You Wanted.
A statement on Oh Yeah Wow’s reads: “It seems that the chaps of One Direction have taken it upon themselves to regurgitate our original concept.
“Don’t get us wrong, we here at Oh Yeah Wow are big One Direction fans.”
Referring to differences between the former X Factor group’s video and their own, it adds: “Yes 1d fans, we are aware ours doesn’t have the creepy facial morph stuff.”
Australian production company Oh Yeah Wow claims One Direction’s You & I clip is copied from a video it shot for Clubfeet’s Everything You Wanted
The post goes on to explain that the production company is not against inspiration helping what it calls “creative evolution”, but says “plagiarism and copycatting is becoming increasingly common and acceptable”.
It adds: “Considering the sleep deprivation one must endure to create an original piece with practically no budget, you can start to understand the annoyance we might feel when some affluent young bucks and a director devoid of creativity, decide to effectively steal (and subsequently dilute) our idea.”
The post then provides the Twitter handles of the band and the video’s director and encourages readers to post the message on social media using #nodirection.
Last year, Uncut published a statement from The Who guitarist Pete Townshend denying rumors that he was taking action over the similarity between his band’s Baba O’Riley and One Direction’s Best Song Ever.
University of Duesseldorf in Germany has voted to strip Education Minister Annette Schavan of her doctorate after an investigation into plagiarism allegations.
The University of Duesseldorf’s philosophy faculty decided on Tuesday that she had carried out “a deliberate deception through plagiarism”.
Annette Schavan has denied the claims and said she will appeal.
An earlier plagiarism row brought an end to the political career of Germany’s defence minister in 2011.
Large parts of Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg’s 2006 legal dissertations were found by Bayreuth University to have been copied and he stood down before it issued its damning verdict in May 2011.
Using the same words as Duesseldorf’s Heinrich Heine University, it concluded that he had “deliberately deceived”.
When Annette Schavan became the second minister in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government to be accused of copying her doctorate, in this case by an anonymous blogger, she insisted she had never “knowingly falsely cited any sources” and promised to respond to the accusations.
But the faculty committee concluded that her work, which dealt with the formation of conscience, included a “substantial number of unaccredited direct quotes from other texts”.
In a statement declaring the doctorate invalid and withdrawing it from Annette Schavan, the faculty head Bruno Bleckmann said they had “decided by secret ballot, by 12 votes to two, with one abstention”.
University of Duesseldorf in Germany has voted to strip Education Minister Annette Schavan of her doctorate after an investigation into plagiarism allegations
Annette Schavan, 57, was said to be on a five-day education and science co-operation trip to South Africa. Education minister since 2005, Annette Schavan is described as a close colleague of Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Her lawyers reportedly rejected the university’s ruling and said Annette Schavan would appeal.
When the university announced its inquiry, Annette Schavan said she had no intention of standing down.
But the investigation into one of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s closest allies is seen as potentially awkward months before Germans vote in federal elections.
The popular German newspaper Bild said the news was a bitter blow to the chancellor, and wondered whether Angela Merkel would need to find a new education minister at the start of her election campaign.
University of Duesseldorf is to investigate allegations that German Education Minister Annette Schavan plagiarized parts of her doctoral thesis in 1980.
The University of Duesseldorf has voted to back the inquiry into Annette Schavan’s philosophy thesis on the formation of conscience.
Annette Schavan has denied the claims first raised by an anonymous blogger.
But the investigation into one of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s closest allies is seen as potentially awkward months before federal elections.
Another plagiarism row in 2011 led to the resignation of Defence Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, when it emerged that large parts of his doctoral thesis were copied.
Annette Schavan has told the Suedwest Presse newspaper she had no intention of resigning. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman said on Wednesday she had full confidence in the minister’s work.
University of Duesseldorf is to investigate allegations that German Education Minister Annette Schavan plagiarized parts of her doctoral thesis in 1980
An initial evaluation of Annette Schavan’s PhD thesis found questionable passages on 60 of its 351 pages, according to earlier media reports.
The minister told a German newspaper last year that she had never “knowingly falsely cited any sources and did not “attempt to mislead”.
The university’s doctoral board said it had to investigate the allegations “regardless of the person or her position”.
“The board has discussed the facts in detail and voted with a secret ballot by a score of 14-0 with one abstention to open a full investigation,” the university’s dean, Bruno Bleckmann, was quoted by Reuters news agency as saying.
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