Man Without Qualities

Tuesday, February 25, 2003

Berkeley Dough Boy

Don Luskin posts a bracing critique of Brad DeLong's web site. DeLong is as bloated and insubstantial and self important as any product of modern American academics I know. A veritable Pillsbury Dough Boy of economics.

And Luskin is also right that Professor DeLong is a downright copyright kleptomaniac. His routine appropriation of entire magazine articles and other proprietary materials - sometimes with little or no commentary or criticism of his own - clearly often goes way beyond any legally accepted notion of "fair use." I do not know if taxpayer money is used to support Professor DeLong's website or if the University of California tolerates systematic copyright violation by its faculty members. But many other institutions of higher education do carefully point out to their students and faculties that copyright violation is a federal crime, that all providers of Internet access have a responsibility to ensure compliance with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998, and that failure to do so can expose the University to significant penalties in the tens of thousands of dollars for each violation.

Based on Professor DeLong's ongoing, casual intellectual property theft and his personality as generally displayed on his blog, I suggest that it might be interesting to ask around Berkeley economics and other places the Good Professor has inhabited over the years to see if Professor DeLong has any history of others - especially students, junior faculty and authors of papers which he has refereed for peer review professional journals - claiming or suspecting that he has stolen ideas and published them as his own. I suggest this simply because a habit of one form of egregious intellectual property theft naturally raises the question of whether the thief has the same casual attitude about misappropriating other forms of intellectual property. My guess (and it is only a guess) is that Professor DeLong is likely as big a stinker with respect to both forms of theft. And from the high handed fashion with which he deals with his blog critics, I also would not be surprised to find that the Good Professor uses his academic positions and basically abusive style to threaten and pound potential accusers down. So as a further guess I suggest that few who have been robbed by Professor DeLong (if there are any) would readily go public.

But discreet inquiries might be made concerning the reach of those DeLongian sticky digits - those that grasp the copyrights of others with such flagrant, narcissistic entitlement. Such inquiries might finger out some interesting consistencies in the character of this academic Dough Boy.

UPDATE: This post has predictably been controversial, which is fine. But The Man Without Qualities finds it interesting that I have not received - either by e-mail or in any post - a single defense of Professor DeLong's flagrant practice of copyright kleptomania notwithstanding the widespread and intense distain for much copyright protection in the Blogosphere.

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