CoJ Case 063
DB vs Hakatsuki, #16077 was the sixty-third case tried by the Chamber of Justice. The sitting Justicar was Dacien Victae, the Left Hand of Justice was DarkHawk, and the Right Hand of Justice was Kalan Amak.
Basic Case Information
- Two counts: Violation of Covenant section 7.06(o) - Plagiarism - Plea of Not Guilty
- One count: Violation of Covenant section 7.06(d) - Cheating and Exploitation - Plea of Not Guilty
- One Count: Violation of Covenant section 7.06(j) - False Statements
- GUILTY as to all charges
- Letter of Reprimand;
- Disqualification from Saved! and Scenes of Destruction;
- Loss of Medals from the competitions;
- Six months general probation.
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The Chamber of Justice, upon conclusion of an investigation, issued the following charges against Hakatsuki:
1) Two Counts: Violations of Covenant section 7.06(o) - Plagiarism - Hakatsuki knowingly submitted two images for the competitions “Saved! [Graphics]” and “[Sunrider] [Vatali Unsettled] Scenes of Destruction” that he did not create himself. He applied minor photo-manipulation techniques to each image without crediting the original image creators. 2) Two Counts: Violations of Covenant section 7.06(d) - Cheating and Exploitation - Hakatsuki knowingly submitted plagiarized images to two Clan Odan-Urr competitions, “Saved! [Graphics]” and “[Sunrider] [Vatali Unsettled] Scenes of Destruction,” for the purpose of placing in the competitions.
3) One Count: Violation of Covenant section 7.06(j) - False Statements - When given an opportunity by the Chamber to submit a reasonable explanation for the apparent plagiarism, Hakatsuki falsely claimed that the images he used had been created by his brother when they are in fact professionally created concept art widely available on the internet.
The defendant was provided sufficient counsel from the Left Hand of Justice and was made aware of his rights under the Covenant. Due to the nature of the charges, the possible penalties did not exceed a two-grade Novitiate demotion, a Letter of Reprimand, one year probation, or a combination of the above. Therefore, pursuant to Cov. 7.03(i), he was notified that he faced Trial by Justicar. The member was informed that he would be able to present evidence in his defense, and that the Justicar would consider and weigh the evidence before him without presumption of guilt. The member was further notified that he would have the right to see any evidence to be presented by the Right Hand of Justice, and that he would be able to submit written arguments to rebut the charges and evidence presented unless he failed to enter a plea.
The defendant entered a plea of NOT GUILTY and the Chamber of Justice immediately initiated a Trial by Justicar. Upon consideration of all evidence available to the Chamber and the arguments presented by the Prosecution and Defense, the Justicar finds the Defendant GUILTY of cheating and plagiarism and NOT GUILTY of false statements. The sentence for the member is as follows:
- DISQUALIFICATION from the Saved! and Scenes of Destruction competitions;
- LOSS OF MEDALS earned from the competitions;
- LETTER OF REPRIMAND permanently applied to the member’s dossier;
- PROBATION for six months upon the following terms: General probation - all promotions, merit medals and position appointments are subject to review and approval by the Justicar.
JUSTICE IS SERVED.
Signed and sealed in Justice,
Justicar of the Dark Jedi Brotherhood
This case came to the Chamber’s attention through a complaint about a possibly plagiarized competition entry in the “The Pictures in the Sound - 12” competition. While the competition was still running, the organizer noticed that Trainee Hakatsuki had submitted an image that appeared to be a recolored version of Halo concept art widely available on the internet. No attribution to the original source was included in the submission. The Left Hand of Justice reached out to Hakatsuki to explain that, when submitting an entry that uses another’s work, source attribution must always be provided. After some evasion, he added a source link to his Pictures in the Sound submission.
Meanwhile, the Right Hand of Justice investigated Hakatsuki’s entries in two other prior graphics competitions, which resulted in the charges issued in this case.
Hakatsuki was charged with knowingly and falsely claiming to have created two images and submitting them for credit in two separate Clan Odan-Urr competitions. He was also charged with falsely stating that his brother created the source images.
Hakatsuki placed second in this competition, earning a Crescent with Sapphire Star and two Clusters of Graphite: Hakatsuki's submission to Saved! The source image is widely available online as concept art for the canceled Star Wars 1313 game: https://www.polygon.com/2015/12/9/9880910/star-wars-1313-revival-lucasfilm
[Sunrider] [Vatali Unsettled] Scenes of Destruction Hakatsuki did not place in this competition, but earned two Clusters of Graphite: Hakatsuki's submission to Scenes of Destruction The source image is available online as concept art for a Halo 4 animated series: https://www.deviantart.com/lordbiernac/art/Halo-4-Spartan-Ops-motion-comics-342549845
Neither entry explained that these images had originally been created by other people and that he had photo-manipulated the originals rather than creating them from scratch. Additionally, his entry for Saved! Included a text submission suggesting it was an image of his character: “Art displays Hakatsuki overlooking the complex holding the kidnapping individuals.” Finally, Hakatuski made a series of evasive and disrespectful statements during the investigation that, among other things, seemed to suggest that his brother created the source images. The wide availability of the images online and their clear connection to a) a cancelled game and b) a professional pitch for an animated series cast serious doubt on his statements and resulted in a charge of false statements.
Analysis As an initial matter, the Defense compellingly argued during trial that Hakatsuki’s statements were not false but merely confused and ambiguous. The Defense demonstrated that there was a reasonable basis to conclude Hakatsuki did not mean to claim that his brother created the source images, but rather that his brother found and supplied them to Hakatsuki, who then recolored and submitted them as competition entries. As such, the Chamber has concluded that Hakatsuki is NOT GUILTY of false statements.
Turning to the more serious cheating and plagiarism charges, this case was remarkably similar in many ways to DB v. Arvalis Raith, DB 058, in which the defendant ultimately confessed to submitting lightly manipulated images from an uncredited source to two DB-wide competitions. This case differs in that a) Hakatsuki is an extremely new member, b) the competitions at issue were not DB-wide, and c) Hakatsuki did not confess.
In fact, Hakatsuki submitted to the Saved! competition one day after joining the club and to the Scenes of Destruction competition one week after joining. The Chamber considered whether a brand new member who most likely had only fleeting familiarity with the club’s operations and may not have even heard of the Covenant could nevertheless be guilty of violating the Covenant’s proscriptions against cheating and plagiarism. The answer must be yes. The Covenant and our caselaw make no allowance for excusing such misconduct on the basis that a defendant did not know that submitting another’s work as his or her own without any attribution is against the rules. All members must comply with the Covenant at all times. Section 7.06(a) plainly states that “Set forth in this section are specific codified rules that relate to the conduct of all members. Members must abide by these articles at all times. (emphasis added).
That said, the Chamber recognizes that mistakes happen. As articulated in DB 058:
It should be noted that the mere failure to attribute credit in a competition submission would not always result in a plagiarism finding. Sometimes members make mistakes and fail to give proper credit to a source.
Unfortunately, in this case as in DB 058, the member’s textual submission to Saved! indicating it was an image of his character and the fact that he submitted unattributed images to two separate competitions strongly suggested that leaving out attribution was not a mistake, but rather his modus operandi. Later statements he made to the Chamber further clarified that he saw nothing wrong with his conduct despite admitting that he did not create the images himself.
Absent evidence of mistake, claiming the unattributed work of another as your own is plagiarism and submitting that work to a competition is cheating. Hakatsuki is GUILTY as charged.
As noted above, the Chamber considered two additional factors in this case that differentiated it from DB 058: the competitions Hakatsuki entered were not DB wide, and Hakatsuki did not confess or otherwise demonstrate contrition as Arvalis did. These two factors did not contribute to the finding of guilt, but they are relevant considerations for sentencing. In that capacity, they work at odds: the lack of acknowledgement of wrongdoing counsels for a harsher sentence, whereas the clan-only nature of the competitions -- by precedent -- weighs in as a mitigating factor. Also on the scale is the extremely short tenure of Hakatsuki’s membership, which may make him the “youngest” dossier ever charged with a Covenant violation. As discussed earlier, this fact does not excuse his behavior but the Chamber believes it supports a lighter sentence.
As such, the Chamber has determined that the typical cheating punishment -- demotion -- is not appropriate in this case. Hakatuski will be disqualified from the two competitions at issue and lose the benefits he gained from them. He will also serve a period of general probation and have a Letter of Reprimand applied to his dossier. Additionally, the Chamber notes that, after being warned, Hakatsuki did add attribution to his Pictures in the Sound submission. That act saved him from a graphics competition ban. Finally, I must note that there has been a marked increase in plagiarism issues that have come to the Chamber’s attention in 2020. Let this case serve as a reminder and as a warning to all members: when you use portions of someone else’s work, give attribution or risk the consequences.
/s/ Dacien Victae