Plagiarism & Passing Off

Checking for the real deal

Plagiarism and Passing Off October 4, 2019 | Sheila Whittaker

I’ve written before about the Course I have run for the College of Sound Healing for the last ten years – the Gong Practitioner Training Course. The College has been using that title “Gong Practitioner Training Course” for over ten years. It’s one of the College’s most popular courses, written by me for the College 11 years ago at the request of Simon Heather, the principal. We are well known and established within the Gong Community, with countless word-of-mouth recommendations from the many participants we’ve trained over the years, since 2010. It’s a very successful and in-demand course, and its success is due in part to our promotional hard work, personal recommendation, the College’s good name, and the quality of the Course and its teaching. We are usually fully booked every year, this year being no exception. Interest in the gong work has exploded in the last few years, and now many people want to learn about this wonderful healing tool. As with anything that is successful, there are always going to be people who resent someone’s success – we’ve all come across these small minded individuals who object to others being fully in their own power and being successful, because it mirrors their own lack of worth. Additionally, when something stirs the public interest, there will also be those who want to “jump on the bandwagon” and try to emulate it or cash in on the sudden surge in popularity, for their own benefit. Unfortunately that is now happening with the gong work, both with training courses and group gongbath sessions. This means that if you are looking for a gong training, care is needed to make sure you find a long-standing and high quality training with experienced , ethical and integrous teachers. The College of Sound Healing has had an issue recently with someone who has put on their own gong course, and used the same name as the College’s already long-established course – imagine that! Not only is the name virtually identical, but the format is also very similar, with the same course requirements and conditions. I even spot small bits of wording and similarities in their blurb that would seem to be mine! I don’t believe it happened by accident  – it’s all too similar to be coincidental. I think we have been plagiarised. Of most concern, from  my point of view, are the moral and ethical issues involved – it’s simply not right or fair to take someone else’s course name/title and use it as your own; and then to continue using it especially after it’s been politely pointed out and a name-change requested. Why would you then continue using that same title, unless the purpose is to confuse enquirers and give the impression that it is the same as the original College course, and thus hope to intercept the College’s hard-won traffic? Why not use some imagination and come up with your own exclusive course title, then there’s no confusion at all, and everyone is happy? And when it’s pointed out, why would you argue and not agree to change it to something else, knowing that you are seriously treading on the College’s toes by doing this? Trademarks and copyright (the College does have copyright on the Course and title) can be difficult to prove, but “passing off” – a form of plagiarism - is a much clearer matter. This is when someone puts out a work which closely resembles that of another person or body, and passes it off as their own. Copying titles, content and other material comes under this heading. I’m not saying that this is definitely what has happened in this case, but the general opinion is that there does seem to be clear evidence of passing off, and the aggressive reaction of the person running the other course to my polite requests to make changes rather confirms that. They’ve been caught out and don’t like it! Obviously we’re not at all happy about this situation, and we are taking legal advice. We’ll see what’s suggested then decide what to do. In the meantime, please know that if you come across any Course with the title Gong Practitioner Training, it might not be the original 10-year established College of Sound Healing Course – it could be the plagiarised one, so do check the background. The only two tutors who teach the College’s Gong Practitioner Training Course are myself, and my colleague and fellow College gong tutor Angela Mason over in Sussex. In short, beware of copies!

Sheila Whittaker 4.10.19