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Well-known author of Boldt books accused of plagiarism

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An author well-known locally for his books on the Boldt family is being accused of plagiarism by a Watertown native who wrote several feature articles for the online magazine Thousand Islands Life.

“Roger Lucas is making money off his book ‘Boldt Castle: Heart Island’ 12th Edition with my photographs, my text, etc. It sells for $20 per copy on both sides of the border in the Thousand Islands region,” Kristen Pinkney said in a letter to the Times.

But Roger S. Lucas, a self-published author of several books on the Boldts, said that while he is aware of the magazine, he has not read Ms. Pinkney’s article on the diary of May Dewey — a family friend of the millionaire proprietor George C. Boldt — that was published in the December 2008 issue of Thousand Islands Life.

“I don’t know what the complaint is,” Mr. Lucas, Buffalo, said Tuesday. “She is not the copyright owner. The bottom line is that there’s a lot of information out there in the public domain. We’ve gone down the same path and tumbled upon the same information.”

Ms. Pinkney said the only way Mr. Lucas could have “tumbled upon” some of the material used in his recently updated book is if he had read her piece on T.I. Life’s website.

Comparing his doings to a student’s book report, she said Mr. Lucas made the mistake of copying a few sentences verbatim and changing others only slightly by “substituting a word here or there.”

“When I opened up the package and started reading pages 12, 13 and 14, I felt like someone had punched me in the stomach; that was what it felt like,” she said. “No one else has them; they came from the scrapbook of Pansy Brush, a friend of May and Ella Dewey, a 19th century scrapbook.”

Ms. Pinkney said she did not write about the Dewey family and its life on Friendly Island — aka Dewey Isle — to make a profit.

“I have never made a profit from publishing May Dewey’s diary written in 1888-89,” she said. “That was not my motivation; it was about Thousand Islands history and making a contribution, giving that unique glimpse into life on the river in the Gilded Age.”

Mr. Lucas said he has an “astronomical amount of research material” he has collected over the past 35 years. And while he often uses Google’s Internet search engine to find additional resources and does not always record where he got the information, he insisted he did not steal Ms. Pinkney’s work.

“I’ve got a bunch of stuff on Dewey. I’ve got stuff that she doesn’t even have on the Dewey family,” he said. “Some of these people just want to rain on your parade.”

Mr. Lucas further argued that he is a victim of copyright infringement and estimates he is losing $5,000 a year because of those who blatantly duplicate his work to make money.

“They’ve infringed on my copyright. It annoys me to no end,” he said.

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