Recently I came across a paper on a topic I'm interested in. I started reading the paper and realized this was a later version of a paper I reviewed roughly 6 months prior. That paper was rejected then due to a large amount of plagiarism that I identified, mostly in the introductory sections.
Despite the plagiarism, I tried to be as helpful as possible to the authors, recommending a different approach than what they used. Turns out that they quite liked parts of my approach as they made many of my recommended changes to their paper. They even liked how I described it, because roughly 3 sentences were copied nearly verbatim from my review. There was no mention of the help of an anonymous reviewer either.
I contacted the journal, who so far has refused to acknowledge that plagiarism occurred. I've received two somewhat contradictory responses (paraphrasing the journal staff):
Plagiarism can only occur if the copying was from a published source. As my review was not published, the alleged copying can not be plagiarism.
The passages I highlight are not similar.
Point 1 is absurd. A student would fail an assignment if they tried that one. Point 2 is also absurd as the sentences I highlighted are near verbatim copies, and there are many ways the same points could be made. I was really surprised when they made that argument.
What are my options at this point? I'd like for the plagiarized passages to be rewritten, but the journal staff refuses to bulge on that.
It's worth noting that this was published in a reputable journal. The paper is outside of the field of the journal in my view, but the reputation of the journal in general is good.