The Virgin Islands Source accused Virgin Islands blog V.I. Connections of plagiarizing its work. The Virgin Islands Source, an online news site for St. Croix, St. Thomas and St. John, may even sue for copyright violation.
V.I. Connections “has been violating our copyright by taking stories from our website and, with minor editing, running them as their own, the Source said in a May 7 news story.
iMediaEthics went to the website for VI Connections on May 17 but ended up at a “Coming Soon Page” that states “We will be back soon.” We’ve tweeted Connections asking for comment.
iMediaEthics asked the Source if the website went down after its complaints and if it has heard back from anyone connected to the site. Source publisher Shaun Pennington told iMediaEthics: “Yes, we believe the site was taken down by GoDaddy. No, we have not filed a lawsuit and no we have not heard from whomever owns it.”
The stories in question carry a byline reading V.I. Connections and don’t include any “credit to the Source, creating the impression that they did the work of reporting and writing the story, which they did not,” the Source reported. “All Connections did was cut and paste, juggling the words just a bit to make it appear as their own work.”
Virgin Islands Source publisher Shaun Pennington is quoted as saying “this will not be tolerated.”
Pennington added to iMediaEthics: “I have overlooked this kind of behavior for years. But the stealing of a story about a man who no one has hears from or about for decades was just too flagrant. Seeing that story plagiarized led us to discover all the other stories this organization had lifted illegally from the Source.”
As an example of the plagiarism, the Source pointed to its April story, “Cuban Diary: Fountain Valley Killer LaBeet Alive and Well in Cuba.” That story was the result of the Source publisher Pennington’s trip to Cuba for reporting. The story reads in part:
“Ishmael Ali LaBeet, one of five men convicted of murder in St. Croix’s 1972 “Fountain Valley Massacre,” has made a home for himself in the Holguin Province of Cuba – north of Guantanamo on far the northeast side of the 700-mile country.
“As far as anyone knows, he has been in Cuba since hijacking a plane in 1984 to the island nation.
“According to a close Canadian friend of his, LaBeet did serve some time in a Cuban prison for the hijacking, but has been free since then.
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“‘He’s Cubanized,’ says Bill Chester. ‘He’s got his ration book and apartment.'”
The site VI Connections published a story in which it reported (iMediaEthics has bolded the verbatim content):
“One of the five men convicted of murder in St. Croix‘s 1972 “Fountain Valley Massacre,” Ali LaBeet is now residing at Holguin Province of Cuba, north of Guantanamo on far the northeast side of the 700-mile country as a free man.
“According to sources, LaBeet has been in Cuba since hijacking a plane in 1984 to the island nation.
“A Canadian friend of LaBeet said he served some time in prison after the hijack but is free now.
“’He’s Cubanized,’ said Bill Chester.”
In its news report about the plagiarism, The Virgin Islands Source provided several other examples of lifted work, noting that in one case, the VI Connections even inserted grammatical errors and stole a photo.
The Source: “Sylvia McGregor, a Goldman follower who bakes for pleasure and a small business, said she was excited and happy to get in the class. ‘It was a challenge getting in and getting registered since it was such a popular class,’ McGregor said as she busily puts the icing on cake with the Chef’s help.”
Connections (verbatim bolded): “One of the attendees is Sylvia McGregor, pastry buff and small business owner was noticeably excited. ‘It was a challenge getting in and getting registered since it was such a popular class,’ McGregor said as she busily puts the icing on cake with the Chef’s help.”