Busted for plagiarism: Labour Party forced to pull information booklet

The Labour Party has been forced to pull an information booklet after being busted for plagiarism.

Newshub can reveal the party's guide to services for over 60 year olds contains at least 50 apparent breaches of copyright, all authorised by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. 

If you put Labour's guide for over 60s into an online plagiarism checker, 56 apparent breaches of copyright show up, with examples from 19 different sources, some government and some not.

Copyright lawyer Kate McHaffie said it seems Labour has "taken work, they've used it without permission, and that is technically copyright infringement".

It includes a cut and paste job from the LA Times about moderate activity making a difference.

The guide also uses word-for-word work from American lifestyle site Liveabout: "During nice weather, many communities offer free lunchtime concerts in pleasant locations where there is a high concentration of office workers."

Sound advice it may be but it's not Labour's.

National leader Simon Bridges said it's "not good enough".

"In fact, it's much worse than that," he told Newshub. "They've literally cut and pasted from their Google searches into their Labour Party material and brochures."

Labour has had previous issues with plagiarism. MP Clare Curran was forced to apologise in 2015 for ripping off The Economist magazine in a policy document. 

Curran told Newshub she didn't produce the document herself, so "therefore I can't have any responsibility for the content".

Newshub alerted Labour on Monday and the party is now pulling all the booklets. But on Wednesday, Labour MP Marja Lubeck was on Twitter posting about handing it out.

Labour is insisting there is only one breach, because it believes the rest is public information that can be lifted.

Chief Whip and Labour MP for Mt Roskill Michael Wood told Newshub: "No plagiarism is acceptable."

But he said the party will correct the document and "get it back out there, because this is actually a really well-loved resource that many older people enjoy receiving".

National has had its own issues. It was fined $600,000 for breaching copyright, using an Eminem-esque song for an election ad in 2014.

Bridges said National learned its lesson "the hard way" and said the party hasn't done it since.

"What we're seeing from the Labour Party, given the repeated breaches, is they're very slow learners."

There is no suggestion Labour will be sued over any of this, least of all by the government departments it copied, which likely want the information out there.

But copying material without permission or attribution is risky and there's a simple solution: Labour, use your words.

Newshub.

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