Plagiarism, plain and simple?

I will be among the first people to admit to you that it is difficult to read source material for a blog post (or a full-blown article) and not get any of that source into your own article by accident. It happens, and you acknowledge it and move on, trying hard to not do it again. But I’ll also be the first one to tell you how annoyed and angry I get when I see plagiarism happen, especially when it happens to me or to someone I know.

I’ve been reading IO9 for quite a while now. It’s a blog about science fiction and pop culture, and it is quite good. Their writers manage to capture my attention with their articles, and there was even a time when they indulged my epidemiological curiosities. The editor-in-chief of IO9 is my Facebook friend, and we’ve corresponded a few times. She also wrote a really good book on the threats to civilization and what we can do (and would do) if faced with those threats.

A few days ago, I was looking for spoilers to “World War Z,” a movie about zombies coming out in a couple of weeks. Any self-respecting epidemiologists should at least like the zombie genre because, hey, it’s all about pandemics and the response and control to them. So I went to IO9 to read what they had to say. I found this article. While it had plenty of spoilers based on a recent sneak peak of the movie, it didn’t have enough about the plot. So I went to Google for more spoilers. It was then that I found this other article. When I started reading it, it was clear to me that it had been based off of the IO9 article, or… Well, judge for yourselves. I’ve bolded the parts I find to be too similar to be coincidental:

[h4_style]The Introduction[/h4_style]
From IO9:

“Can the World War Z movie be as amazing as Max Brooks’ oral history novel? Probably not, but that’s doesn’t mean it can’t be an interesting action movie all on its own. We saw a ton of intense, brutal footage at CinemaCon — including one set piece you’ll be talking about for days. Spoilers ahead…”

From Beware Horror Movies:

“Official World War Z footage proves that the movie will unlikely be as amazing as Max Brooks’ novel; however, it shows that WWZ will be a visually amazing zombie movie which is doomed to make an appeal to the audience. The footage proves that WWZ will be an existing action movie. The following article presents several spoilers!

[h4_style]First Paragraph[/h4_style]
From IO9:

“We’ve found a way to make peace with the World War Z movie: By disassociating the film the book. After getting bludgeoned by the relentless footage we saw tonight, we finally get WWZ. It’s a big dumb scary movie, that might just keep you on the edge of your chair for hours.”

From Beware Horror Movies:

“If you want to like WWZ, you should try to disassociate the movie and the book. The movie is not the book. It is a very scary movie that will likely keep even zombie lovers on the edge of their chairs. Brad Pitt who plays the protagonist of WWZ said before the short screening that he wanted to make a zombie movie his sons could and would like to watch. It seems that Brad Pitt made his childhood’s backyard fantasies about zombie true. The movie can be even a bit fun.”

[h4_style]Later Down The Articles[/h4_style]
From IO9:

The first scene starts off with Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) stuck in traffic inside a family car, with his two girls and wife. Together, they are all generally adorable. But all that comes to a screeching halt when a zombie attack floods the overcrowded streets of New York City. It happens quick as hell, and the tension and action don’t seem to stop, no matter where Gerry runs to. These new zombies are fast, and can somehow make trucks fly over other trucks. Once the undead ball gets rolling, it’s a nightmare ride of confusion and terror.”

And…

“They begin piling onto each other like ants. Slowly they make their way over the wall, and it’s like run, scream, bite. Gerry manages to escape under a very terrifying chase scene under a caged-in street. But Jerusalem has fallen.”

From Beware Horror Movies:

The first scene of the footage presents Gerry Lane (played by Brad Pitt) stuck in a massive traffic jam with his family. His wife and two daughters are very adorable. Suddenly, screeching begins and zombies start to flood streets of New York. Zombie attack quick as hell, and nobody can escape but Lane and his family. Zombies of WWZ are not only fast but also crazy. They “transform” in an undead ball mass that rolls the streets and kills everybody. Zombies jump off the buildings, smash cars, smash their own bodies, etc. The infection that turns people into zombies is fast. Just one bite and the virus converts a person into a crazy zombie. The second sequence shows Jerusalem behind a massive wall. Inside, people are praying to keep their spirit high. However, zombies start to slam against the wall and pill each other to come into the city. Meanwhile, Lane plans to fly to India where so-called “patient zero” is. When zombies take the wall, Lane manages to escape again. Jerusalem falls.”

[h4_style]The Final Scene[/h4_style]
From IO9:

The final scene — and quite possibly the most bad-ass moment out of the whole film — is set on a plane. Gerry sits on the floor, in front of a girl with a shaved head. The flight attendant makes an announcement to the overcrowded plane that even though the airport is closed, they’re going to be able to land. No one cheers, they all look like hell, but you can tell this is good news. It doesn’t last.”

From Beware Horror Movies:

The final scene takes place on airplane. When the plane is going to land, the zombie gets released from the elevator and starts to bite everybody. The infection is fast, and soon the First Class passengers have to build a wall to separate them from the rest of the plane. However, the plan does not work…”

The IO9 article was published on April 15, 2013, at 10:16PM. The time tag on the article shows this, and so does the tag on my RSS reader. The “Beware” article was published on April 22, 2013, according to its time tag, a whole week after the IO9 article.

There is nothing I detest more than someone who is too lazy to write their own articles. And that’s not the end of it. This article on “Beware Horror Movies” reads a lot like this article on “Dread Central.”

Why, I do believe we have ourselves a serial plagiarist.

Of course, I could be wrong. The same person could be writing all of these articles, days and weeks apart from each other, but I’m willing to bet good money that I’m not wrong.

I'm a doctoral candidate in the Doctor of Public Health program at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. All opinions posted here are my own, of course, and they do not necessarily reflect the opinions of my school, employers, friends, family, etc. Feel free to follow me on Twitter: @EpiRen