Last night we were baffled by a Columbia graduation fuss involving a professor blocking a student's graduation. It turns to be a classic new media/old media debate, on the ethics of content sharing, according to an email from the student.

Erin Siegal submitted the same work twice, to two different professors. But she insists she was above board about everything. Both her thesis adviser, Wayne Barrett, and her book seminar professor, Samuel Freedman, knew she would be sharing content between the two projects. The high-achieving scholarship student even made a PowerPoint presentation for Freedman explaining everything!

But now he's saying she took the three-way arrangement too far. Instead of giving him a big ole book and just excerpting 5,000 words for her thesis, she turned in the entire 16,000 words for her thesis at her adviser's urging. This apparently left no exclusive content for the book class, as Freedman had been expecting.

So, in new media terms: Siegal promised her magazine's print editor an exclusive tome teased online, but ended up giving the Web editor everything, at his request, to amplify the buzz (which worked, in academic terms; her thesis passed with honors). Now the print editor is totally pissed and is all, "you're fired," and she's like, "come ON!"

It's a bizarre spat from where we sit, given than Freedman knew there would be some content-sharing going on. Sure, he doesn't have the exclusive. But what he does have is a student who's poised to do quite well in a world where even the traditionalists at Time Inc. have come to believe in the idea of sharing across titles.

Siegal's email (sent to classmates in April — presumably she's "stop[ped] crying" since then):

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