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Tim Rentsch & The Abscissa Book
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Date: 2009-03-08 (08:16)
From: Tim Rentsch <txr@a...>
Subject: Re: Tim Rentsch & The Abscissa Book
Dear Caml-list readers:

I have just read Jason Hickey's post of 3/6/2009 at the beginning of
this thread.  Now that Jason has made this a public issue by trying it
in the court of public opinion I am forced to give a public response.
Jason's letter is false or misleading in important respects, as
demonstrated by a letter he himself wrote to my lawyer dated May 19,
2008 [].

In a prior post, Jason claimed not to have been aware of my book.  The
truth is he and his publisher have exchanged multiple letters with me
and my lawyer for some time, and they have been well aware of my book
for roughly the last year, well before it was published.  The clearest
example is in his own hand.  Prof. Hickey's letter of May 19, 2008, is
two full pages devoted solely to the subject of my book.  Among other
things, he stated: "I am pleased that Mr. Rentsch intends to publish a
book on Objective Caml based on joint work he did with me."  He also
stated that his publisher's counsel, Kevin Taylor, had "proposed that
both authors simply publish their own books . . ."

Jason claims of my book The Objective Caml Programming Language that I
wrote only chapters 14, 15, 17, and the Appendix, and that he wrote
everything else.  That claim is false and Jason knows it.  I have said
all along that my book is based on the joint work that Jason and I
prepared between 2004 and 2007.  Jason tries to downplay my role in
the joint work, for example his comment about offering co-authorship
"on this basis" [for two chapters and an appendix].  In fact what he
said was "We have to make you a co-author!", or something very close
to that, and sounded more like it was made out of recognition of the
amount of work I'd put in, not just specific writings.  Furthermore
most of the work I did in other parts of the book was done after that
point, after being made a co-author.

It appears that Jason is guilty of doing himself what he's accusing
me of doing, making use of material developed for our joint work
without my permission.  I've just conducted a very cursory
examination of Jason's online manuscript.  For example, the earlier
course notes had no exercises.  A comparison of exercises in his
manuscript and my book will show similarities in many cases, too many
to be just coincidental.  I have not received any communication
either asking me for permission or attempting to make arrangements
so I could be paid royalties that I'm entitled to for use of
material developed for the joint work.

Jason intimates in one posting that my manuscript was deliberately
withheld from him.  The truth is an offer was made in a letter sent in
May of 2008 to Kevin Taylor, with a cc to Jason, to provide a copy of
that manuscript.  No request for any such copy has been received.

Jason implies in one posting that I asked CUP to delay publication of
his manuscript until after I reviewed it.  I never made any such
request, nor did I expect that there would be any delay of this kind.
I did ask for an advance copy of the manuscript, but on later advice
decided not to look at it at all, and this decision was communicated
to CUP by letter in May of 2008 (the same letter mentioned above,
cc'ed to Jason).  Since that time I'm not aware of any attempt, either
by Jason or by CUP, to try to get any kind of resolution on the matter
or to ask about any possibly missing communication.

There are indications on that Jason may be trying to add to
a set of comments accusing me of plagiarism;  the charges of
plagiarism are absolutely false, and Jason knows it.

The comments above reflect just some of the ways that Jason's remarks
are false or misleading;  I haven't tried to tabulate them all.  I
have, to the best of my understanding, a legal right to use material
from the joint work in the way that I'm using it.  Furthermore I
invite everyone to compare my book against the earlier 2002 course
notes, not just at the level of words or phrases, but entire sections
and chapters, and see for themselves the extent to which I contributed
not just changes but value to all parts of any earlier material.

At the end of his posting Jason makes some self-serving statements
related to further public discussion, moving on, etc.  If he'd really
felt that way he could have written a short notice saying that he
would be taking the matter up with his publisher and would let people
know how things turned out.  Of course, what he really wants is to
have it both ways -- make public accusations and then stop any further
public discussion.  I encourage _all_ readers to gather facts on this
issue on _both_ sides, and convey any opinions to Jason's editor, and
also to appropriate public forums -- I don't know where else Jason
might have posted.  I encourage reviewers of _both_ books to report
all the facts available to them, and for anyone who would recommend
Jason's book to consider whether they want to be associated with the
kind of intellectual dishonesty he has displayed in his postings here.