Why Would a Major International Publisher Resort to Plagiarism?

Imagine a company with thousands of employees and hundreds of millions of dollars at its disposal, and yet, instead of creating new publications, they plagiarize the work of a small publishing company from Western France with whom they already have a commercial partnership.


It’s hard to believe, and I must admit I was shocked to learn of the controversy brewing between Edulang and ETS Global, a branch of ETS. A first article portraying the incident came out saturday in Le Télégramme and it announced a “war” in the making.

In 2006, before choosing to develop 100% English materials, Edulang published Objectif TFI, a guide to prepare learners for a standardized French test.  A few years later (2009), we were very excited to sign a first contract with ETS Global for the distribution of our TOEIC® test preparation Test Simulator.  At that time, there were also discussions of ETS Global buying the rights to Objectif TFI, and yet an agreement could not be made, and instead they decided to develop their own work.


In 2010 ETS Canada released Guide de Préparation Test de Français International with no less than 26 passages that copy word-for-word or very closely Edulang’s own work.  I’ve provided just a selection of examples of the plagiarism in French below.  Moreover, after our own author’s review of their publication, we’ve noted that their version contains numerous passages of non-standard French, misspellings and grammatical errors.


Honestly, I don’t know what will happen next, but I can tell you it will probably be quite an interesting ride as it’s a showdown between a Goliath wishing to pay nothing to produce learning tools while charging students heavily, and a David that invests significantly creating its pedagogical tools all the while allowing its learners to pay what they want.

Stay tuned for more!



A small selection of examples of said plagiarism:

P.105 EDULANG Corrigé : (A) dont remplace un complément introduit par la préposition «  de » (avoir besoin de quelque chose)

P.123 ETS Corrigé : (A) dont remplace un complément introduit par la préposition de (avoir besoin de quelque chose)


P.31 EDULANG (47)

(A)   Si

(B)   Comme

(C)   Au cas où

(D)   Quand


P.25 ETS (67)

(A) Comme

(B)  Au cas où

(C)  Si

(D) Quand


P.105 EDULANG Corrigé : (B) du : le verbe “joue” peut être suivi de prépositions différentes selon le sens (par exemple : jouer du violon = se servir de cet instrument de musique, mais …).

P.123 ETS Corrigé : L’erreur est (A) : du : le verbe jouer peut être suivi de prépositions différentes selon le sens (par exemple jouer du piano pour se servir de cet instrument de musique, mais …).


P.71 EDULANG ( 119) : Il a fait de nombreuses …………………..pour essayer de vous joindre.

(A)  tensions

(B)  tentures

(C)  tentations

(D)  tentatives

P.107 Corrigé : (D) «  Tentatives » vient du verbe « tenter » (= essayer) ; ne pas confondre avec les mots de forme assez voisines… (C) vient du verbe «  être tenté » et indique une envie à laquelle il est difficile de résister.


P.76 ETS (118) : Je n’ai réussi à le joindre qu’après plusieurs ……………………

(A)  tentations

(B)  tentacules

(C)  tentatives

(D)  tendances


P.125 Corrigé : La bonne réponse est (C): tentatives vient du verbe tenter « essayer ». Ne pas confondre avec les mots de formes voisines . (A) n’est pas une bonne réponse : tentation vient du verbe tenter (être tenté) et indique une envie à laquelle il est difficile de résister.


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  • Jason Renshaw

    That is scandalously poor form. I’m glad you let the blogosphere know about it; it is one small but important way to fight these sorts of battles.

  • http://blog.edulang.com/ Brad Patterson

    Thanks Jason. We’re quite surprised as well.

    I agree: the blogosphere and social media are an amazing platform for keeping the community alert to what is going on. Cheers, Brad

  • http://www.epicenterlanguages.com.mx Aaron Nelson

    Wow. It’s terrible that the big boys would want to copy you. (In a weird way, a compliment?) But you’re right – this is a David vs Goliath in more ways than one. Your business model vs theirs etc.

    I have no idea what to say really…shocking. And as a Canadian, I’m sorry that a Canadian company is involved in some way in all this. Sad.

  • http://twitter.com/tamaslorincz Tamas Lorincz

    Hi Brad, this is frustrating, indeed. I wonder what their reaction was when you confronted them. I agree with Aaron that it’s a kind of a compliment but it’s very poor form and the examples are pretty convincing that something truly dodgy is going on. Looking forward to the updates and a successful conclusion to this appalling situation.

  • http://blog.edulang.com/ Brad Patterson

    Shocking it is, but I’m comforted by the response from the community online.

    It can be a real dog-eat-dog world sometimes in business and on some level, like I said to Jason below, at least power tactics that use to go unnoticed can now be called out on social media. Cheers, Brad

  • http://blog.edulang.com/ Brad Patterson

    Hi Tamas.

    Yes. Frustrating indeed, but there are laws that protect against acts like this so the last chapter has yet to be written. I’ll keep you posted for sure! Cheers, Brad

  • http://twitter.com/DaveDodgson David Dodgson


    I have heard of this kind of thing before but usually it’s a small local company or a private uni producing an in-house book that does the plagarising – not an international publisher.

    As Jason said, it’s important to get the news out there on your networks, personal and work-related. Best of luck in pursuing this.

  • Jason R Levine

    My hunch is that the big publishers have always done this to the little guys; it just happened before media companies like Edulang came along, companies that will quickly increase market share once the Goliath model crumbles completely (McGraw Hill and MacMillian, no longer in the textbook business; Hought Mifflin, bankrupt. Who’s next?). In the old days, when the little guys didn’t get a deal with a monster like ETS (sorry about that; twelve straight years of dealing with them can leave a person a bit salty), they little guys simply didn’t sell. I see this as a sign of very exciting things to come for exceptional content creators and expert social media whizzes like EduLang.

  • http://blog.edulang.com/ Brad Patterson

    Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts, Jason. Social media is a game-changer for little companies and this is indeed a fine example. I’ll keep you posted! Cheers, Brad

  • http://blog.edulang.com/ Brad Patterson

    Thanks David. Yes, the support from the community has been big already, and you can rest assured, we’ll keep up our “David-like slingshot efforts”! Cheers, Brad

  • http://www.facebook.com/sylvia.guinan.3 Sylvia Guinan

    I’m shocked – you are doing something great for small independent publishers and edupreneurs by publicising this.

  • http://blog.edulang.com/ Brad Patterson

    Thanks Sylvia. Glad to have your support!

  • http://www.facebook.com/gmachlan Louis George Machlan

    What a great opportunity. Wouldn’t it be cool to take a very small add adjacent to theirs and inform the public that they can have access to the source publisher at a discount or “pay what you want”? Possibly the next step is to inform us, your followers, of a campaign contacting the publications that ETS uses for advertising? It has been decades since I participated in a boycott.
    Remember, “Be wise as a serpent, yet gentle as a dove.” Do what you must, but keep your head and more importantly your heart right. Your heart for service is the greatest aspect of your business. That can not be stolen.

  • Sophia

    Wow. The examples are pretty clear, I don’t see how they can get away with this. Keep us posted on what happens next – it’s certainly doing nothing for their reputation at present.

  • http://blog.edulang.com/ Brad Patterson

    I don’t see how they can either! The double-sided edge of the social media sword… can hurt your reputation just as much as it can build it! Merci for the support, Sophia

  • http://blog.edulang.com/ Brad Patterson

    Thanks George. Yes, our heart’s in the right place and we’ll continue that way. Tough position to be in and we hope it all works out for the best. Cheers, Brad

  • http://www.kirstenwinkler.com/put-your-money-where-your-comment-is/ Put Your Money Where Your Comment Is | Kirsten Winkler

    [...] popular vote in our Edupreneurs Club, here is my take on the Edulang / ETS kerfuffle. I am shocked. Shocked that people in the comments were shocked that something like this had [...]

  • Natalya Eydelman

    Can’t but agree with the comments here! Shocking indeed. It started me thinking about my own teaching context where I go into a lot of deal of trouble to explain to my students what constitutes plagiarism and why and then help them stay away from it and master writing without plagiarising. It’s a big issue in Russia, which has not been seriously addressed at the national level and stays a resort of individual teachers and researchers for the most part. I wonder too what the situation in publishing is… Haven’t gone into this much yet, but surely will. Clearly, something needs to be done about this situation.

  • http://twitter.com/seburnt Tyson Seburn

    Best of luck on your goliathan war.

  • http://blog.edulang.com/ Brad Patterson

    merci bud!

  • http://blog.edulang.com/ Brad Patterson

    Hi Natalya,

    Yes plagiarism is something that wasn’t really introduced to me until I was 15 in school… and at that point they made it very serious and I even remember a friend failing a class (and her year) because of what was “half plagiarizing” (NB this was before the internet explosion!).

    It’s another world once it gets to commercial entities, and we’ll just have to see where all of this goes! Thanks for stopping by. -Brad

  • phil

    This is pathetic! I’ve never liked them really and have seen many similar TOEIC exercises before and my own students even had the same parts in the actual test as they got in a previous mock paper. This really made them look very unprofessional.

    In a world of IELTS TOEIC is on shaky ground and should be trying to get support not destroy it. Maybe time for you to ditch TOEIC sim?

  • http://blog.edulang.com/ Brad Patterson

    Hey Phil,

    Thanks for the support. I agree: this is very shaky ground. Will keep you posted and how it all shakes down!


  • http://twitter.com/VickiVideos SimpleEnglishVideos

    Fascinating! Surely it was a slip up? But what a monumental slip!

  • Andrés

    I am with you Brad, i think is horrible what this company are doing and of course you guys must do something. I have a question and is really important, i really need a preparation guide for this exam, i live in Mexico and you can’t find this books here so i will buy it online but i want to know which guide is the best? maybe it sound like a stupid question but i know that you going to be honest with your answer and i will trust in your reponse, thank you

  • http://blog.edulang.com/ Brad Patterson

    Hi Andrés.

    Thanks for your kind words of support. I’ll shoot you an email with my recommendations. Cheers, Brad

  • http://www.compellingconversations.com Eric the sceptic

    Disappointing on multiple levels.

  • http://blog.edulang.com/ Brad Patterson

    Thanks Eric. Disappointing and pretty surprising indeed.

  • http://www.edulang.com/blog/12-from-12-blog-challenge-from-yearinthelifeof/ 12 from 12 Blog challenge from @yearinthelifeof | A journée in language.

    [...] an exploration was when we discovered that some of Edulang’s materials had been plagiarized here by a major [...]