CAWA Guidebook Plagiarism Update and Resolution
CAWA has been seeking to resolve a situation of plagiarism of the CAWA Perth Climbing Guidebook. The current CAWA Committee has inherited this issue and believes that an acceptable resolution has now been reached.
This post is to update and notify you of the outcome.
A brief summary:
In 2013 Shane Richardson published a new guidebook to the Perth region, which reproduced significant sections of the CAWA guidebook. He had been notified in a letter by CAWA prior to the publication of his guide that the CAWA guide is under copyright. Shane had not sought nor obtained permission to reproduce these sections.
The previous CAWA Committee sought legal advice, which confirmed that plagiarism had indeed taken place. In two letters, a lawyer representing CAWA asked Shane to cease promotion and sales of his guide and to confirm in writing that he will not in future use material under CAWA copyright. Shane answered to the first but not the second letter. The guidebook continued to be sold.
It should be noted that significant effort has gone into the creation of the CAWA guidebook and the guidebook was a significant source of revenue for CAWA prior to the publication of Shane’s guide. CAWA guidebook revenue has halved since the introduction of Shane’s guidebook.
The 2016 CAWA Committee considered the options in regards to this matter. It was decided that – barring litigation, which could be lengthy, divisive for the climbing community, and costly – the legal avenues had now been exhausted. The key driver was loss of ongoing income to CAWA through reduced sales, and the ongoing benefit Shane has gained through copying CAWA produced information.
The CAWA Committee therefore sought a meeting with Shane to find a way forward. On 16 August of this year, CAWA Committee member Remi Vignals and CAWA President Mark Edele met with Shane to discuss the situation. At the meeting Shane advised that he had not received the second letter in full. There is no record of any follow up from the previous Committee regarding Shane’s receipt of the letter. Remi and Mark provided Shane a copy of the letter which advised that plagiarism has occurred. Three options were offered to Shane to settle the issue:
- Admission that he copied sections of the CAWA guidebook. Agreement to financially compensate CAWA for damages by making a donation to the re-bolting fund, and agree to work with CAWA in the future to ensure this does not happen again.
- No financial contribution but admission that he copied the material from the CAWA guidebook and to work with CAWA in the future to ensure this does not happen again.
- No agreement that CAWA material was plagiarized. As a gesture of good will, he would make a donation to the CAWA re-bolting fund.
After some follow up by email with Shane a resolution has been reached. The settlement of the conflict between Shane and CAWA regarding plagiarism of the CAWA guidebook is as follows:
Shane admits that he made a mistake in not asking for permission to reprint copyrighted material from the CAWA guide and he will work with CAWA in the future to ensure that this does not occur again. The CAWA Committee, in turn, accepted this admission and will not pursue the issue further. The invitation to make a financial contribution to the re-bolting fund remains. Such a gesture would be welcomed by the Committee, and would be acknowledged as a follow-up to this post.
Any financial contribution would go towards the re-bolting fund CAWA is in the process of establishing. It uses CAWA funds to help increase the safety of routes in the state. By raising revenue for CAWA, buying the CAWA guidebook contributes to this initiative to increase the safety of routes in the state.
I hope that everybody can accept this compromise. It was the Committee’s judgment that it would be in the best interest of everybody involved to move forward rather than to look back.