I was thinking the other day about plagiarism.
We all know, of course, what plagiarism is, but let me tell you in my own words.
Plagiarism is the "wrongful appropriation" and "purloining and publication" of another author's "language, thoughts, ideas, or expressions," and the representation of them as one's own original work. The idea remains problematic with unclear definitions and unclear rules. The modern concept of plagiarism as immoral and originality as an ideal emerged in Europe only in the 18th century, particularly with the Romantic movement.
Plagiarism is considered academic dishonesty and a breach of journalistic ethics. It is subject to sanctions like expulsion.
Plagiarism is not a crime per se but in academia and industry it is a serious ethical offense and cases of plagiarism can constitute copyright infringement.
(Don't sound like my own words? Well, truth be told, I might have glanced at the Wikipedia entry for "plagiarism" recently and remembered a few words of it.)
More of my own, original thoughts, over the orange squiggle.
Plagiarism has a long an storied history.
Just off the top of my head--and without Googling, at least as far as you know--there are a number of examples of plagiaristic use among well-known writers and public figures.
In modern times, plagiarism is not limited to lazy and dishonest students. Martin Luther King plagiarised part of a chapter of his doctoral thesis. George Harrison was successfully sued for plagiarising the Chiffons' He's So Fine for My Sweet Lord. Alex Haley copied large passages of his novel Roots from The African by Harold Courlander. Princess Michael was accused of plagiarism over her book on royal brides. Jayson Blair, then a reporter for the New York Times, plagiarised many articles and faked quotes.
In 1997, less than six months after winning the Booker prize, Graham Swift's Last Orders was at the centre of accusations that the author had crossed the line between inspiration and plagiarism by "directly imitating" an earlier work, the 1930 novel As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner. Confronted with the accusations, Swift said his book was an "echo" of Faulkner's.
The above two paragraphs most definitively did not come from an article on the theguardian.com site titled A history of plagiarism (not my own work)" which I have not recently read ("recently" as in the last five minutes") and which I would never pass off as my own work.
Why is plagiarism so bad, you might ask? (I have asked that question time and again to myself--and myself replies "I have no clue. I'm going to bed. Do what you want to do.")
Plagiarism is lying on a whole new level. When you pass something off someone else as yours, you are stealing the work that someone else has already done and are robbing them of their intellectual property. Not only that, if your act of plagiarism causes someone to lose money, you could be sued for damages.
It's the same as stealing the other person's work. It doesn't contribute anything to the world - it's just a repeat.
Ask.com has a thread remarkably similar to the last two paragraphs, but this is clearly an amazing coincidence. Besides, the posters didn't leave their real names, and they put their writing in the Internet, which makes it freely available, at least from what I understand.
We all need to be aware of the potential for plagiarism in our own work.
No matter what field/business you are in, it is important to avoid plagiarism to maintain the integrity of your business. It doesn't matter if you are in the medical field, journalism or selling plywood to hurricane victims, people will remember how you act, respond and apply knowledge to share with the world. The United States Government even has an Office of research Integrity known as ORI, to ensure that written work is free of plagiarism. They consider plagiarism as both the theft and misappropriation of intellectual property.
The last paragraph was written by Yahoo about a government office and since government offices are paid for by our tax dollars, we all really own such words, right?
So, let's all be on the lookout for plagiarism in our work and others (that includes the work of minor politicians), and point it out to the world when we see it.
And if you want to see an example of plagiarism in action, take a look at this video--it's nearly word-for-word what I was thinking, and was appropriated by someone else.