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WORD: Another plagiarist bites the dust as Chicago Review Press cans ‘Celluloid San Francisco’

Chicago Review Press killed its 2006 book ‘Celluloid San Francisco’ and removed the title from further sale or distribution after a court judge ruled that author Jim Van Buskirk plagiarized content from a local website MisterSF.com, the site’s founder Hank Donat told WORD’N’BASS.com.

San Francisco judge Ollie Marie-Victoire ruled that portions of Celluloid San Francisco -- which attempted to detail the many unique locations in San Francisco where famous films were shot -- were plagiarized from Donat’s original material.

According to Donat, Chicago Review Press senior editor Yuval Taylor said in a Jan. 2, 2007 e-mail: "Celluloid San Francisco is out of print and unavailable. Some bookstores, including Amazon, continue to sell the copies they have on hand... bookstores should soon run out."

Plagiarism cases against authors are rarely won in court, and Donat’s case was one of several scandals to rock the book publishing industry last year.

At least two authors have accused Dan Brown, author of international best-selling novel 'The Da Vinci Code' (Random House imprint Doubleday), of stealing their ideas but so far he has won cases in court. On Jan. 16, lawyers for Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh, who claim that Brown pilfered their book 'The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail,' reportedly asked Britain’s Court of Appeal to overturn Brown’s victory.

Little, Brown and Co. pulled Kaavya Viswanathan’s debut novel 'How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild and Got a Life' from bookshelves in May 2006 after she admitted stealing material from veteran Megan McCafferty’s previously published books. The publisher also terminated a second novel that was part of a six-figure book deal.

Donat’s victory in small claims court, which earned him the maximum $7,500 ruling, resulted in part because Van Buskirk copied and pasted material from MisterSF.com’s published pages and presented them as his own writing. "Sadly, the book was plagiarized from my website," Donat told WORD’N’BASS.com. "But gladly, justice prevailed!"

Now that the latest literary ruckus is resolved, Donat can resume his work detailing everything San Francisco. His latest endeavor is a new city tour with GoCar Rentals called "An Insider’s Guide to San Francisco," where clients take a GPS-guided audio tour with Donat to check out the sights of famous movie shoots, notorious crimes and criminals, cultural landmarks, and local secrets unique to The City.

Meanwhile Van Buskirk, who has held the title of Program Director of the James C. Hormel Gay & Lesbian Center at San Francisco’s Main Library, can go back to shelving books instead of "writing" them.


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