Tuesday, January 1, 2013

What's Ethics Got to Do With It? (V)

In Part I, we discussed some of what it takes to earn a Masters’ Degree in Library Sciences and we touched on some of Klausner’s work as a librarian.

In Part II, we looked at Klausner’s punctuation, grammar, and spelling errors

Part III talked about Harriet’s communication and storytelling skills.

Part IV took on her math and logic skills.

This section is about intellectual property law and ethics.  A candidate for a Masters in Library Sciences must pass intellectual property law and ethics courses as part of the undergraduate degree requirements before moving on to the masters level work.  This doesn’t necessarily mean that a student is required to demonstrate this training in their daily lives, but merely to be familiar with and understand it well enough to pass the tests

Intellectual Property Law:

Very simply, intellectual property law is the law that governs copyright, trademarks, and patents.  It is designed to protect an individual’s or entity’s rights to own their creative works and prohibits anyone else from using those works without permission.1-3  It is designed to discourage the theft of, or profit from, another person’s creative works.

Why would intellectual property laws be required coursework for a librarian?  It would be safe to say that all books, magazines, and publications are copyrighted.  Libraries deal with the written word and they are bound to purchase legitimately printed materials and not bootlegged materials.  Consequently, they have to receive training in this area.  In addition, librarians have access to a great deal of published and copyrighted information and they need training in the consequences of breaking the laws related to the dissemination of the material or its unauthorized reproduction.

The training should instill in students a healthy respect for the law.  It is also designed to fully train students on copyright law and plagiarism.

Plagiarism is not only taught as part of middle school English classes, but high school and college instructors particularly investigate students' written papers for it.  They view plagiarism as such as serious violation that it is the same a cheating and they will fail the student on their paper for that reason.  Even with all this early and ongoing awareness, plagiarism is irrevocably tied to intellectual property law because it violates copyright law.  Clearly, an author who steals another’s idea or works is a plagiarizer and is liable for court sanctions.

How is this connected to Harriet’s reviewing career?  As a reviewer, Harriet liberally steals from dustjackets, editorial materials, and other reviews, many times word for word, to craft her reviews in spite of her formal, educational training to the contrary.

Federal Laws Regarding Federal Trade Commission Requirements  (16 CFR 255)

Closely tied to intellectual property law are the Federal Trade Commission’s laws regarding disclosure.  Sneaky Burrito on this blog has written a brilliant discussion of the FTC requirements for disclosing the receipt of free products when writing reviews.

The Federal Trade Commission says, in Example 8, that, if a reviewer is part of a network marketing program and receives free products about which the reviewer can voluntarily write reviews, a positive review would be considered an endorsement and a disclosure of receipt of the product for free is required.  It goes on to say, in 16 CFR 255.5 that the reviewer must disclose the connection with the seller when the readers of the endorsement will most likely not anticipate their connection.

Almost all of the books that Harriet reviews are received free from authors, publishers, editors, and Amazon.  Yet, not once does she make her legally required disclosures about free product.

Harriet willfully breaks the law.

Amazon’s Review Policy:

Among other things, Amazon’s review policy requires:  “Full disclosure: If you received a free product in exchange for your review, please clearly and conspicuously disclose that that you received the product free of charge.  . . .”

Harriet’s refusal to disclose that she receives free product is a violation of Amazon’s reviewing policy.


Ethics comes from a place that is more intangible than tangible.  It’s connected with laws, right and wrong, and morality.  But, it’s really more about character and about saying and doing the right thing in all circumstances for the sake of doing the right things.  Ethics come from an internal place and not from external influences.

Do we see Harriet’s ethics in her profiles and her reviews?  Absolutely.

Harriet is not an honest person.  See “The Lies that Bind Klausner” for a full discussion of the lies that she has perpetuated across the internet.  There, not only does she says that she would never use more than one profile because it’s just too much work (obviously the voice of experience speaking), but you can see the discrepancies and lies in each.  In the Amazon.co.uk profile, she lists herself as Amazon No. 1 Reviewer, and yet that wasn’t true for the Amazon.co.uk site.  In her second Amazon.co.uk. profile, she says she was born and lived most of her life in Europe and came to the United States in 1991 when, in actuality, she was born and raised in the United States and never lived anywhere else.

Harriet doesn’t read the books she reviews.  (Reading is Not Necessary to Harriet’s Reviews.) She actually makes up things that didn’t occur in books and puts the false information in her reviews.

Klausner, in violation of the industry’s guidelines, and possibly other agreements, resells the free copies of the books she receives under her son’s name on Half.com.  This is a huge indicator that she knows it’s wrong, but she does it anyway.

Klausner has rated 99.7% of the books that she reviews as 4 stars or higher on Amazon.  Orson Welles indicated that the possibility of a reviewer’s liking a book is about .5% to 2-3%.  Maybe Welles was a bit more critical than most because most reviewers say that the average of good books is about 5-10%.  In Harriet, we have a total aberration from the norm.

Another ethical issue is that of Harriet's putting up, on a public website, reviews full of vulgar words, crass euphemisms, and pornographic language where a child of any age can see them.  This isn’t just bad judgment; this is indicative, at a minimum, of a diminished standard of public decency.


What we have then is a lawbreaker, a policy breaker, a liar, and a cheater.

Is there anything ethical about this?  No.  Oh, hell, no.

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