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UPDATE, 11:40 am: I spoke with a representative of Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic who apologized for the oversight. This kind of stuff happens, and CSN is usually pretty good at attribution, so we consider the matter closed. The original post follows.

This isn’t a hockey story, so feel free to skip over this one.

On Monday morning we published a partial translation of an interview by the Russian news agency ITAR-TASS. In that interview, Alex Ovechkin discusses the departure of Mikhail Grabovski and his feelings about Adam Oates’ dismissal from the Capitals. Our own Igor Kleyner translated from the original Russian, and Ian Oland provided the introduction. I did a sloppy proofread on the piece, which will become relevant in a moment.

On Monday night, reader Alison let me know that CSN might have used our translation on their SportsTalk Live show. That would have been very exciting for us if only CSN had attributed us. They did not.

That’s not very nice. And then, to see for myself, I had to watch Brian Mitchell, which makes it even worse.

CSN’s Rob Carlin read the translation aloud during the show’s Starting Five segment.

Here’s the graphic CSN used for the translation:

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CSN appropriately cites ITAR-TASS. They do not cite RMNB or Igor Kleyner for the translation, ostensibly passing off the work as their own. That is plagiarism.

We can be certain that the translation is from RMNB. They are identical in content and mechanics, including the sentence fragment that we interpreted to be its own sentence (“more than just a player and a coach”) and the missing comma after the introductory phrase that I should have caught before we published (“Maybe at some point in time”). CSN clearly used Igor’s work and failed to properly credit him.

A simple “Translation by Igor Kleyner/RMNB” would have been fine. But noooo. And, again, they made me watch Brian Mitchell to verify this, which is just mean.

I kinda get it. This isn’t a novel problem. And our website sounds silly to say on television. Then again, the initialism “RMNB” isn’t any more silly than “ITAR-TASS.” And while I can appreciate that producers are busy people (evidenced by the “ofseason” typo in the graphic above), it’s neither difficult nor shameful to acknowledge you got your content from a blog.

I haven’t spoken with Igor about this, but I’m pretty sure he’s not upset. He’s probably occupied with his wife having a baby at some point in the next day (Поздравляю!). Ian doesn’t seem peeved either. Maybe I’m only cranky because I had to watch Brian Mitchell talk about LeBron James for 10 minutes before I could confirm this.

Just for the sake of reference: all original content on RMNB is licensed under a Creative Commons license. Just check out the footer. We retain some rights, but you can go nuts sharing, copying, and remixing our stuff as long as you attribute us and don’t re-sell it.

Also, if anyone out there wants to hire us as segment producers or on-air talent for a regional sports network, we’ve got some hot takes about Brooks Orpik that you’re gonna love.

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  • Dan Curry

    They didn’t even spell “offseason” correctly.

  • Brackaphobia

    With the budget that you guys are running on and the amount of work you do, for you not to get attributed here is pretty ridiculous. That’s some fundamental stuff CSN….smh.

  • Dan Curry

    And I obviously didn’t finish the article before commenting! 🙂

  • Joe

    As payment, they should have you and Ian on their show to talk about hockey instead of….yeah, you guessed it, Brian Mitchell.

  • “It’s neither difficult nor shameful to acknowledge you got your content from a blog.”

  • Topher Gee

    Let us know if you get an apology.

  • Igor Kleyner

    Contractions still about 30 minutes apart… just enough time to leave a comment here! 🙂
    Nah, am not upset… plagiarism flattery

  • CSA

    I thought there was / is a conscious effort my the media in general to do a better job citing news sources (blogs, writers, etc.)?? I guess CSN doesn’t play that game.

    All I freakin hear with the LeBron Saga is “my sources tell me”….

  • CSN is usually pretty good at this stuff.

  • Topher Gee

    after a quick search to find out if they might have said something in response, I found this gem:
    Retweeted by JapersRink and 1 other
    Peter Hassett ‏@peterhassett 22 Aug 2012
    CSN-Washington’s video about the Neuvirth interview uses direct quotes from RMNB’s translation without attribution. There’s a word for that.

  • Jonathan Cribbs

    CSN is maybe a little wrong to not to site the translation. (That’s getting into a, uh… rare situation for American media there.) But RMNB didn’t do any real reporting. You might be a little miffed right now, but I’d wait until someone rips your actual reporting before getting in a huff. You’re asking for credit for a translation of a source two-steps away from the CSN report. That being said, CSN should have had it translated themselves because, from their perspective, who the hell are you? How can they be sure you even got it right? But RMNB would never have been mentioned regardless.

  • hopeless

    Which means a warning from you/a lawyer representing you should suffice in this instance. There’s a reason laws are written the way they are. If you’re ok with them ripping off your/Igor’s work once, who’s to say they shouldn’t ever cite resources appropriately?

  • Mike Reppenhagen

    Translation, in my mind as a former reporter, is much more difficult than “real reporting,” and it certainly is worth a lot more on the open market.

  • Jim

    It wouldn’t have taken much for Mitchell or someone else at CSN to add somewhere “…translated by our friends at the Russian Machine Never Breaks hockey blog.” I don’t think CSN was venal in what they did. But it is a bit arrogant and lazy.

  • This is an interesting comment. Here’s a few thoughts:

    1) We’re neither “miffed” nor in a “huff.”
    2) Passing off another’s work as your own is plagiarism. It’s an ethical failure.
    3) “Who the hell are you?” We’re RMNB, the site with an untarnished record of accurate translations over the past five years.
    4) Translation is considered original and transformational work. cf. the King James Bible.

  • Totes forgot about that. I was a grumpy gus over that whole thing.

  • Sarah

    And in my mind as a self-taught intermediate level reader of Russian. My translations, when somebody asks me, “What does that say?” are absolutely embarrassing. I apologize for them. I know I’m getting the point across awkwardly and ridiculously and may be missing some idioms entirely.
    It is difficult to translate Russian and English into each other, with opportunity for controversy over every word and syntax choice, because the two languages are just so different. Machine translations are literally good for nothing but laughs. Google translate is hilarious.
    My incomplete knowledge gives me an appreciation for how much work Igor puts into translations that everybody takes for granted.

  • Jonathan Cribbs

    Been a reporter for more than a decade. Whether it’s more difficult isn’t really relevant. Nor is how much it’s worth. In a journalistic context, what matters is the source. Like I said, CSN was wrong not to mention the translation, but they should have avoided it all together by having it translated themselves. RMNB doesn’t deserve credit for reading a Russian news source.

  • Sarah

    Oh, and congratulations on the birth of your child, Igor! Hope they don’t try to steal the baby too.

  • Guest

    I’m sure Igor’s great. That’s not the issue as I explained above.

  • opinions_thoughts

    Credit where credit is due. If you use another source, you cite the source. If someone else had to put in the time to get it to a format you can understand, cite the source. Keeps everything above board.


    In revenge have one of your Russian friends translate some article and publish a complete bullshit translation……something to the effect of Ovechkin was caught in a Russian nightclub in drag…. Let them report on it and sit back and laugh

  • opinions_thoughts

    When Brian Mitchell discusses hockey, I zone out. Too painful.

  • That’s a great, timely joke! Haha.

  • Sarah

    I’m sure… plagiarism’s great? I don’t even know where to start with your comment.

  • Searle

    RMNB put the time in to do the translation, citing them as a source takes two seconds and in my mind is just common courtesy.

    RMNB deserves credit if their content is going to be used, in my opinion that’s all that needs to be said

  • Jonathan Cribbs

    Look, I read RMNB every day. I like it. And of course the blog’s in a little bit of a huff. You guys just dedicated a whole post to this thing. And I’m not saying you’re not justified (kind of). On second thought, you’re right. A translation is work. When guys translate Karamazov, they get credit for it. Legally, you may be right. What CSN did could be a form of plagiarism. (Which would genuinely be a fascinating court case if you sued them. Never really seen two news sources fight over the translation of a third-party source.) But CSN is not going to say (and maybe they should have), “according to BablinksyRussiaface News Agency, translated by the local fan blog Russian Machine Never Breaks.” That’s very complicated attribution. Had I been running CSN, I’d go, “Somebody grab me a Russian and confirm what RMNB translated to make sure it’s accurate and switch out any changes.” To me, that’s the proper way to handle it. And you still wouldn’t be mentioned.

  • To me it’s more about transparency than credit. I don’t care much about credit, but being able to track back something to its source and figure it out on my own matters to me.

    Sidenote: shout out to Tim Berners-Lee for inventing the world wide web. Been a big help to me.

  • Dedicating a post to something is not indicative of a “huff.” We dedicated 5 posts to Mathieu Perreault’s celebrations and we think those are silly as hell.

    The complexity of an attribution isn’t a reason to not use it. Journalistic ethics, which you– as a reporter for 10 years– know full well, dictate that the source of information must be reported whenever possible. And I’d dispute that “In an interview by ITAR-TASS and translated by RMNB” is a complex attribution anyway.

    (By the way, plagiarism isn’t a crime and ain’t no one suing no one.)

  • Jonathan Cribbs

    I’m not saying you should sue them. That would be a little excessive, yes. I’m just saying it would be an interesting case. And I’ve kinda said this three times, but the smart move would have been to remove RMNB from the process completely by translating it for themselves. It satisfies the ethics of the situation and the broadcasters and news writers who don’t want to read and write an attribution clause that’s longer than the sentence that precedes it and sounds like a bunch of boulders rolling down a hill.

  • ATPinDC

    I’m glad CSN acknowledged the error and apologized. Happy I could help!

  • luv2mtb

    I speak Russian (admittedly not as well as I used too). I also speak Spanish. Translation is hard work. Pay for someone to do it for you, or cite the dude you stole it from. Failure to cite sources is one of my pet peeves, and with the proliferation of internet news outlets and blogs, its a pandemic these days.

  • Igor Kleyner

    *They* would have to take on a tough 11 year old sister-to-be first. *They* would lose.

  • Ash

    3) First in meteor updates, too.

  • You do realize that’s also kind of smarmy though right? Hey, here’s this pretty well known hockey source breaking this information and translating it for human consumption and big brother comes in – translates it itself – and then gives itself credit 12 hours later. To me, that seems even more awful because it’s blatantly ignoring ethics and an insecure way to run a business.

    I just want to point out that they apologized – which is cool. I’m happy with that. And I’ll be even more happy if CSN’s culture changes for the better. Chuck Gormley can’t cover everything, nor can we. And like it or not, but they are a leader in sports. They need to set a good example.

  • Agreed.

  • Igor Kleyner

    Just noticed… There is UEFA Champions League trophy awarded to my comment! Is this what I am supposed to do now?

  • GregV

    You guys deserve gold stars for how you handled this. Posting a reminder of the terms under which readers — whoever they are — may use what you produce is always a good idea, but framing it with this story shows why. When it comes to copyright and plagiarism issues, content published on a civilian blog isn’t different from content published on a media outlet’s site. Be it original reporting or a translation of a quote, CSN wouldn’t lift copy from a WaPo story without attribution. A blog shouldn’t be treated differently.

  • Only after your daughter is born.

  • Graham Dumas

    If only you all had some lawyers among the readership. My sharkskin suit is at the cleaners, but should be back tomorrow…

  • Sarah

    I always pictured you with a fang necklace/hat, a la Crocodile Dundee in New York. But with a Caps jersey on.

  • Graham Dumas

    Err, “you can’t handle the truth”?

  • Sarah

    Just not this. Man, those soccer players.

  • Sasha Liles

    Can we address the larger issue? Why is Brian Mitchell in broadcasting? His only real value to me seems to be that he was once a Redskins. He’s truly awful.

  • Sarah

    Sorry it didn’t upload. In case it doesn’t again, it’s just the obligatory Suarez joke.

  • Austin


  • Michael Blaesing

    Dave Lozo must’ve read this.

  • Guest

    Oh, I don’t disagree: It’s a bit of a tacky move on their part, but the broadcast side of the business is well-versed in that. The standard is, unless you have some partnership agreement, you confirm everything for yourself. I understand why they didn’t credit you. It would be awkward, clumsy attribution. But to avoid that, you have to confirm the translation for yourself, and they clearly didn’t do that (assuming they didn’t actually do that and coincidentally used a Russian guy who happened to come to the same word-for-word conclusion, which seems fairly unlikely).

  • Jonathan Cribbs

    Whoops. Misread your thing there. My first comment was wrong. I don’t think it’s smarmy. Because RMNB, which I love, didn’t break any information. The Russian publication broke the information. And CSN didn’t give themselves credit. They credited the Russian publication. The translation bit is more complicated, and I’ve run through that. That being said, I think this is part of a cultural difference between established media and new media. This blog is, obviously, new media, part of a blogging culture. In blogging, there’s the hat-tip (or whatever you want to call it). This is common. Bloggers expect it, etc. In established media, it’s simply all about being first. If you get there first, you get the readers. After that, no one else cared. You confirmed the information yourself, but unless it was a special situation where the breaking of the news was itself news (like Watergate or, theoretically, if the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported the Pens were about to trade Crosby and you couldn’t independently confirm it) you didn’t credit whoever first reported it. It wasn’t relevant. Now, if you’re just reading the first report, not make any calls, not doing your own reporting, then, yeah, you should cite your source. Because not doing that is just good, old-fashioned plagiarism. But there’s a larger cultural issue here where bloggers go out of their way to be nice to each other. That doesn’t really happen in broadcast and print because it’s not relevant to the reader (provided, of course, you’ve done all your own work).

  • SM74

    This man’s contractions are definitely only a few seconds apart.

  • Sarah

    The only thing that’s awkward and clumsy is your line of argumentation. CSN did something naughty, RMNB objected, and CSN acknowledged the mistake they made and rightly apologized.
    Everyone else here would like to consider this matter closed and move on to better things, like making fun of soccer players and celebrating the birth of Igor’s baby. Please.

  • bskillet

    Listening to Mitchell talk hockey is like listening to Obama talk politics

  • Fedor

    Please please tell me the location of that “real market”, I want to be there 😉

    On topic though, I’ve done a lot of that before citing Russian translations of Finnish/Czech/Swedish sources: “as originally reported by… and translated by…”. It’s not just nice, but also provide you security if something is wrong.

  • Fedor

    We have a budget? Wow, that’s what happens when you’re offline for a day 😉

  • Hokahey Hockey

    RMNB made several contributions…1) They found a credible interview, 2) They translated the interview AND reliably conveyed Ovie’s thoughts, and 3) provided a useful context for appreciating that translation. I can translate a phonebook from Chinese, but who cares? If I translate what a star athlete says about a coach who is member of the National Hockey Hall of Fame, that is NEWS. If I translate a business contract and misconstrue “will” (required) to mean “may” (optional), I have just destroyed the business deal. Translation connects people and brings two parties together who otherwise would never meet.