“The passages that Mefferd has identified appear to be copied almost verbatim from the Carson New Bible Commentary. Merely changing a few words, such as ‘unschooled’ to ‘uneducated’, is likely not enough to skirt liability for copyright infringement,” Greenberg said. “The only relevant defense that I could see Driscoll having is independent creation–that is, he wrote this passage completely independent of the Carson text, and the striking similarity is mere coincidence. That, of course, is exceptionally unlikely because the Carson text was far from obscure and, in fact, was later cited by Driscoll.”
Syndicated radio host Janet Mefferd sent shockwaves throughout social media when she accused megachurch pastor Mark Driscoll of plagiarism in a heated on-air exchange last week. In the last two days, however, Mefferd has turned up the heat with additional allegations. On Tuesday, she posted photocopied evidence that Driscoll borrowed material — this time, word for word — in another of his books, “Trial: 8 Witnesses From 1&2 Peter“. As Mefferd’s evidence demonstrates, Driscoll published several sections from D.A. Carson’s “New Bible Commentary” without proper citation.
Mefferd struck again on Wednesday, providing two additional allegations of plagiarism— both taken word-for-word from Carson’s “New Bible Commentary“ and published in Driscoll’s book on 1&2 Peter. Carson has said that preachers who plagiarize are “stealing” and “deceiving.” Requests for a comment sent to the office of D.A. Carson were not immediately returned.
Last week, Mefferd claimed Driscoll plagiarized Dr. Peter Jones for at least 14 pages in his book, “A Call to Resurgence“. She has since released documentation in an effort to support these claims.
I contacted Jones’ ministry, TruthXchange, for a public statement. Joshua Gielow, Jones’s assistant, has offered the following response:
Dr. Jones wants to express his appreciation for the balanced article on this matter published at Religion News Service. At this time, Dr. Jones and TruthXchange will not be making public statements, but we do pray for reconciliation among all parties involved.
Regarding “A Call to Resurgence,” the book’s publisher, Tyndale House, released a statement last week defending Driscoll, expressing dissatisfaction with Mefferd’s “belligerent tone”, and vowing to investigate the matter. Today, they sent the following statement to RNS:
Tyndale House takes any accusation of plagiarism seriously and has therefore conducted a thorough in-house review of the original material and sources provided by the author. After this review we feel confident that the content in question has been properly cited in the printed book and conforms to market standards.
According to Brad Greenberg, Intellectual Property Fellow at Columbia Law School, the first allegation is far less serious than the newer ones insofar as the law is concerned. Copyright laws protect expression — the exact ordering of words — not the idea, Greenberg told me.
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