Cheeekh-Speak Up: Plagiarism in the name of ‘freedom of expression’

Published: March 30, 2014
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The educated youth of today are unable to distinguish between plagiarised and original content, or to ask for the least, properly accredited ideas.

Freedom of speech is a much touted phenomenon in the society today. However, along with this freedom comes the responsibility to recognise original content as well as the conscientious use of someone else’s opinion.

Surfing on the internet one day, I came across a post shared on Facebook by a non-profit organisation called Cheeekh-Speak Up. Skimming through, I was shocked to see a post from my personal blog site published there as a contribution. What was even more appalling was that it had been published without any credit or link to my page, making it seem as if I myself had contributed to their site.

Screen grab from http://kamalkibaatain.blogspot.com/

Screen grab from http://www.cheeekh.com/

As much as I racked my brain, I couldn’t remember ever sending a post about my birthday to the aforementioned platform. Moreover, I couldn’t remember receiving an email or a request from the admin of this website stating that they were taking something from my blog, let alone asking me for permission.

But my grievance became as insignificant and vulnerable as my blog when I saw that the organisation in question had the audacity to take content from a national newspaper The Express Tribune’s blogs page for their website and carry it as if the writer had contributed it to them. Familiar headlines forced me to cross-check some of the pieces with those on ET blogs. They turned out to be copied word by word, with no credit to the paper whatsoever.

Wait, there’s more.

Not only were the posts taken from ET’s blogs page, they were quite conveniently categorised into sections exactly the same as ET’s layout!

Screen grab from http://www.cheeekh.com/

As enraged as I was, I decided to probe further and opened the ‘About’ tab on their Facebook page to find the mission of this organisation. According to the mission endorsed on their page they claimed to be an upholder of freedom of expression and diversity of opinions.

Screen grab from official Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/cheeeekh)

What kind of plagiarised, poorly sourced freedom of expression is this?

By now I was convinced that this was a product of sheer ignorance. However, I was up for some more surprises. The founding team was unfortunately associated with a reputable educational institution in the country – National University of Science and Technology (NUST). Considering the whole team was a part of the university, this could not be some obscure, unknown venture.

Was there no one to inform these young people about their unethical actions?

This is the last thing we would expect from university students – especially young people promoting fruitful ideas and encouraging their expression in society. Although this seems like a professional venture, with a well-organised team, departments, external representatives and so forth, what stands as the basis of any initiative – its originality – is completely absent here.

Was it really that difficult for a group of students to gather authentic content, especially when they have access to many young and educated people at NUST who could contribute?

Eleanor Roosevelt once rightly said,

“Freedom makes a huge requirement of every human being. With freedom comes responsibility.”

Unfortunately, our ‘educated’ youth today seems to crave only the freedom with no regard for the responsibility it brings. Not only are they are unable to distinguish between plagiarised and original content, they don’t even have the honesty or feel the responsibility to seek permission for carrying someone’s content and giving credit when it is due.

If this is the mind set of our educated youth belonging to accredited universities, I shudder to think of the future of this nation.

Maham.Kamal

Maham Kamal Khanum

The author is an International Baccalaureate graduate, studying Policy, Politics and Law at American University, Washington, D.C. She tweets as tweets @mahamkhanum (twitter.com/mahamkhanum)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Guest

    How unprofessional, and this is our so called top university students.Recommend

  • |TopGun|

    That’s how they do their assignments.. they are used to it.Recommend

  • Oneeb Khan

    AOA,
    As a student of NUST I am appalled that some of my university fellows would even contemplate doing this. Plagiarism is something that is incredibly frowned upon in NUST, just like in reputable universities everywhere. NUST is home to a lot of tech start ups and so respect for each other’s intellectual property is something that is instilled in students on a daily basis. It is your right to condemn such an action and that too in broad daylight so that these people realize their mistake and don’t have the audacity to repeat it. However, as a proud NUSTian, I do not think that you should drag my university’s name through the mud for something that a handful of students, if even that, did. Out of a student body of thousands, if two or three commit a mistake or a misdemeanor then those students or their venture should be called out but not their university. You could just as well do the same with the primary and the secondary schools they went to or you could start flinging accusations at their families for not bringing them up correctly. I hope my point is being understood here.
    Regards,
    OneebRecommend

  • http://futurecmo.org/ Babar Khan

    You need a hobby.Recommend

  • Global Nomad

    and you need to learn the meaning of the word ‘honesty’ and ‘’plagiarism’. This girl seem to have a hobby, that is writing and blogging, and that too original stuff.Recommend

  • Anon

    Oh i had to reply here, so you said that the university name shouldnt be brought up okay well dont you think that university also holds a great part on a person’s personality and the way of thinking? Im sorry but lets take an example of Pakistani people living abroad, when they mess up some system or do something as ‘LOW’ as this do you really think they just accuse a few people? Im sorry but no the WHOLE COUNTRY gets accused just because of a few people,anyways it was just an example, so you cant actually tell her that ‘ she cannot drag YOUR university name just because it has treated you well and you’re one of the proud alumni of it. You need to understand her frustration and one of the most important point here is , THEY HAD NO RIGHT TO DO THIS..
    I hope my point here is understood
    Regards,
    AnonRecommend

  • Noman Ansari

    Dear ET blogs team,

    I urge you to publish this because previous such comments haven’t been approved before. An ET blogger once plagiarized my ET film review blatantly and the offending blog was published right here on the ET blogs. When I contacted the then ET blogs editor, she ignored it and the matter was buried. At the very least, the blog should have been retracted.

    I contacted the plagiarizer on Twitter and she was too embarrassed to respond.

    No apology came through.

    While the idea behind this blog is commendable, it is a bit sad because it happens here as well.

    Seriously, paragraphs from my reviewed word to word. The irony was that the review was ripped off from the same website as the ET blog.

    If you are going to practice what you preach in terms of free speech, then you will publish this comment. It will be hypocritical not to. I am not mentioning names.Recommend

  • goggi (Lahore)

    Plagiarism of Pakistani songs from the gigantic Bollywood industry is a free-of-charge tribute to the musicians and lyricists of Pakistan.

    Plagiarism was widespread even in the ancient times, now with easy access to internet it is getting more and more demasked.Recommend

  • NUST graduate

    Hang the copy catsRecommend

  • Unknown

    How you find out that team is associated to NUST. Any names? Any link? Give the full reference please. It seems as you havn’t got admission at NUST and have started to malign NUST. How we should be sure that site was not deliberately made by you for writing the blog against the NUST. Whenever you target someone please give full references. Recommend

  • Unknown

    Is there any link given in the blog that say those people are from NUST? Sorry I fail to see any thing. She just blamed and started to malign NUST as she has some personal vendetta against NUST.Recommend

  • Komal Ali

    Maham, thank you so much for highlighting this issue. I have been a victim of plagiarism myself. And I am glad you pointed out that this initiative is associated with students at NUST. Content from my personal and travel blogs has also mostly been plagiarized by “good” students from reputed universities. About time we learn how to be responsible about the freedom and privilege that we have instead of mindlessly abusing it.
    I hope your blog will make an impact and induce some sense into the minds of the privileged, but ignorant students.Recommend

  • S

    well the issue is the moment someone criticise freedom of speech, everyone jumpsRecommend

  • kick boxer

    Another great example of plagiarism by A.Q Khan:

    http://www.irtiqa-blog.com/2009/08/aq-khans-plagiarism.htmlRecommend

  • Ahmed Mansoor

    I’m pretty sure I can see the comment (O’ level student….. ) in the screen grab that you took…. In my opinion they were trying to give you credit over there… They may not have done it properly, (like solidly saying that the content was taken from ET or your blog etc, but they did point towards the original author…. they never claimed that they wrote the blog post, they specifically wrote your name there)… I apologize for saying this, but I have a feeling that you just want to give them bad publicity….

    ….and funny thing is, ET uses pictures taken from the internet everyday without pointing to the original author at all… Like yourself, in this blog post, the first image in is a creative property of someone else (unless you yourself made it, which I do not think so, as I’ve definitely seen this image before), and you are using it without referring to the original author of it, nor are you referring to the license under which you are using it (e.g. Creative Commons etc… )

    And btw, even if you combine multiple images copied from someone else’s creative property, you should still refer to each and every author/producer of the content.Recommend

  • Farah Kamal

    Check out twitter they did admit that they have plagiarised this writers work and even apologised. Just follow @mahamkhanum. I got to know since i followed this blog from twitter.Recommend

  • Global Nomad

    Read the blog carefully and check out the screen shots. You just assumed that everyone is a lier and is messing up with NUST for no reason.Recommend

  • wajid

    I agree, the picture in the blog is from ” The simpsons”. The author has failed to acknowledge this in her blog.Recommend

  • Unknown

    Sorry, I am unable to see in any screenshot the relationship of cheekh with NUST. Please point out properlyRecommend

  • Unknown

    In the blog, the writer had malign NUST more than then those people to whom we don’t know. NUST is not related anywhere to cheekh or similar organization than why NUST name is dragged in this blog. Writer should be mature enough to know what to write or not.Recommend

  • Unknown

    Ya just like the first picture of this blog, 100% original, right?Recommend

  • Global Nomad

    read the screen grab at the footnote of the screen shots. Follow the writer on twitter and you will see these guys apologising.Recommend

  • Waderer

    everyone here who are defending this act of taking someone else’s work and publishing it without permission must refer to this website, you will understand why the write is so enraged. http://research20atimperial.wordpress.com/compulsory-content/legal-ethical-issues/Recommend

  • Guest

    You know something exist called stock photos and newspapers pay royalties to use them. This is not a personal blog that this simpson image appeared, it is ET blog and they put all images from stock photos. Now go google search what does that mean. When anyone is corrupt they assume everyone else rely on similar methods.Recommend

  • Farah Kamal

    It is totally hilarious to tweet with one of the managers of this site who does not know the mere different between using a quote and copying the entire work of an author.Recommend

  • Unknown

    @Global Nomad
    In footnote of the all screenshots, I am unable to see any relationship of NUST and cheekh. The blog is on ET. The author should first prove the linkage of the cheekh and NUST then drag the NUST name on blog.
    Why should we follow the writer on twitter to know everything? She should be mature enough to write everything in the blog before maligning the Pakistan’s best institution.Recommend

  • anona

    maham dont listen to himRecommend

  • nust alumi

    and plagiarised work ends up getting more marks than the original content.Recommend

  • Oneeb Khan

    Yes, you are right the author has the right to express her frustrations. I mentioned that in my run-off comment. She has the right to call out the people who plagiarized. And sure if she wants to she can call out NUST. I am sorry if I came off as rude here (which I don’t think I had, and also why I used my name when I really hadn’t the need) but I was only trying to say that the university is just as responsible as the other factors I mentioned.
    And yes you’re right again when you say “THEY HAD NO RIGHT TO DO THIS..”
    But you know what, let’s follow your comment to the letter. Let’s not call out NUST, alone. Let’s call out Pakistan. Let us put the blame on Pakistan. Let us blame a hundred and eighty million people for what two or three guys did.

    It is ironic, though, for the sake of empowering your argument you PLAGIARIZED my sign off sentence. (Atleast the Cheekh people credited Maham with writing the article)
    Regards.Recommend

  • Suleman

    Can you please provide me with proof of what you said “it is ET blog and they put all images from stock photos.” Kindly prove that all the images they use here are from stock photos, and which service do they use? (shutterstock?, istock? bigstock? etc.). **TO THE ET BLOG DIRECTLY** Is this photograph from a stock photo service? If yes, please provide the public with the link of the website with this image being offered as a stock image.Recommend

  • Unknown

    In the blog, the author has dragged the name of NUST, she should show how cheekh is related to NUST in the blog. Why should everyone go to his twitter account on this website? Why author didn’t proved this in the blog?Recommend

  • Unknown

    Does he copied with his own name or with the name of the original author?Recommend