Citing sources

Although I’ve seen Robert Bresson’s films numerous times over, I never miss the opportunity to attend the rare local screening or event that pertains to his work, partly to find material for the Masters of Cinema site I co-admin with Trond Trondsen, www.robert-bresson.com, and partly out of personal interest. (Okay, fanaticism.)

Last night, I attended a lecture at a California university that was both an accredited class for students as well as a public event. It was to include a screening of Bresson’s Diary of a Country Priest (1951). As I arrived, I grabbed a copy of the professor’s screening notes stacked by the door and found a seat. Then I began reading. Basic plot summary, thematic intro, yada yada yada…. Then the more in-depth commentary, and the second paragraph began with “Much has been written about the film as an interior drama…” And I thought, hmm, that’s interesting. As I read further, I thought, hmm, this whole paragraph sounds awfully familiar.

Looking over the “Film Notes,” I realized that four of the remaining seven paragraphs had been written by me and published here at Filmjourney and at robert-bresson.com, but nowhere was I or my sites mentioned. I also noticed two more facts: the notes carefully quoted and cited AndrÈ Bazin and FrÈdÈric Bonnaud, but simply copied and pasted my writing into the body of the essay; additionally, every now and then a word had been dropped or changed, suggesting my work had been intentionally edited. This wasn’t a citation slip.

So on behalf of all Internet writers who take their work seriously and spend a lot of time putting pieces together for public access, I implore all readers to please respect copyrights for our work. Just because it’s on the Internet doesn’t mean it is raw material to incorporate into any publication at one’s whim. I realize I don’t have to say this to the vast majority of Filmjourney readers, but my shock last night made a strong enough impression that I feel I need to emphasize this point.

One of the ironies is that I had attended this lecture thinking I would do a story on it here at Filmjourney and http://www.robert-bresson.com if it proved to be educational. I never would have guessed that the event would merely regurgitate what I myself have already written on these sites.

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