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Iowa State Daily apologizes for article theft, copyright infringement

Published: Thursday, April 22, 2010

Updated: Thursday, April 22, 2010 11:04

To the University of Northern Iowa community, including its students, faculty and staff,

Some of you may be aware of the fact that a column written by one of the Northern Iowan's columnists, Trevor Boeckmann, was published in the Iowa State Daily, the independent student newspaper serving the Iowa State University community, April 14.

Unfortunately, we went about publishing the piece in all of the wrong ways.

The Daily -- and many other student newspapers across the country – had subscribed to a wire service, known as U-Wire, for a number of years. The service provided us with access to news and sports articles, as well as columns and editorials from across the country for republishing in our paper.

When the organization was founded and the Daily signed on, an agreement was made that gave permission to other schools (that also subscribed to U-Wire) to republish our content, and gave us the same rights to theirs.

In fall 2009, U-Wire went offline, and my staff was left scrambling to fill pages when there weren't enough columns or letters to the editor to go around. We began by calling up columnists and their editors at other papers in the Midwest, asking for their permission to run their pieces. Time and again, we heard the same response: "Sounds great. Just give us proper attribution?"

College journalists, like many of you, like to get their names out there, so that they're recognizable to potential employers after they've received their diplomas.  

Unfortunately, we eventually stopped calling, simply because it seemed a waste of time, and we simply started to take without asking, an act otherwise known as copyright infringement.

A quick call to the staff at the Northern Iowan (may) have given us rights to reprint Trevor's piece, but it likely would have prevented the backlash he and others at the Northern Iowan have seen because of our reprinting his piece.

Without the context of who he is, as a writer, his style, tone and personality, many students at Iowa State were left believing Trevor actually takes issue with interracial marriages. A note to introduce his column, explaining his intent, precipitated by conversations with staff at the Northern Iowan, who had already conceived of the possibility of the sort of reaction we've seen on our campus, would've cleared it all up and left readers delighted by his wit and wondering at the similarities between arguments made then and now, with regard to interracial and same-sex marriages.

It was never our intention to dishonor the good names of the University of Northern Iowa, the Northern Iowan or its columnist, Trevor Boeckmann. In fact, the decision to run Boeckmann's column was made out of respect for the high quality of the piece, and if any other insinuations were made by members of your community, based on our handling of the entire situation, I sincerely apologize

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