Plagiarism

Plagiarism

A Story by Blackbirdsong
"

I'm featuring this again because there is plagiarism on this site and this issue needs to be addressed.

"

 

 

Plagiarism

 

No this is not a sensationalist piece meant to garner ratings, but an honest article for any who may have questions or isn’t sure what plagiarism is.  Let’s face it, all writers have a silent code amongst ourselves in this and other writer’s communities, groups, clubs, and organizations, etc., and that is this:  Don’t plagiarize my work.

 

Most of us don’t feel the need to verbalize it since as I said there is a silent agreement, but there are those who feel the need to post warnings on their work, blogs or websites warning would-be word thieves what will happen to them and their various body parts if it is discovered that their work has been stolen.  The reason is simple; there is a very real fear of being plagiarized.

 

So the question arises; what exactly is plagiarism?  Many have opinions about what it means, and I could easily give you a list of some of those, but for the sake of not trying to confuse anyone or take up too much of your time with this article, here is what plagiarism actually is:

 

Plagiarism is the practice of claiming or implying original authorship of (or incorporating material from) someone else's written or creative work, in whole or in part, into one's own without adequate acknowledgement. Unlike cases of forgery, in which the authenticity of the writing, document, or some other kind of object itself is in question, plagiarism is concerned with the issue of false attribution.”

 

Notice I used quotation marks?  That’s because that statement is not mine, but quoted from another source; that source to be exact - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plagiarism

 

Here’s is some more from that same webpage: (mentioning that this is from another source and then giving that source’s information is called a “citation”)

 

“Within academia, plagiarism by students, professors, or researchers is considered academic dishonesty or academic fraud and offenders are subject to academic censure. In journalism, plagiarism is considered a breach of journalistic ethics, and reporters caught plagiarizing typically face disciplinary measures ranging from suspension to termination. Some individuals caught plagiarizing in academic or journalistic contexts claim that they plagiarized unintentionally, by failing to include quotations or give the appropriate citation. While plagiarism in scholarship and journalism has a centuries-old history, the development of the Internet, where articles appear as electronic text, has made the physical act of copying the work of others much easier, simply by copying and pasting text from one web page to another.”

 

*The italics in the above paragraph were added by me for emphasis.

 

I would also like to add that you risk being forever blacklisted, which means that you will not be able to publish your work.  How is that possible you ask? Because publishers and editors share information like this amongst themselves.  So if one of them catches you giving yourself credit for something that someone else has written, they are going to make it their business to tell others about it.

 

Why you may ask? Because plagiarism is considered to be the lowest thing one writer can do to another. But more importantly for the publication, they risk being sued by the original author if they publish plagiarized material and worse than that, they risk being blacklisted themselves.  And in a business where reputation is everything, that is everything.  Besides being extremely unprofessional on the part of the writer, it breeds an atmosphere of distrust since when it is discovered no one is going to feel able to trust that you won’t do it again. 

 

Some may argue that there are no original ideas anymore and my opinion of such an argument is that whoever thinks that is probably someone I should watch out for, because there are original ideas and ways of taking something such as a love story and putting your own particular stamp on it. 

 

Examples:

 

  1. Anne Rice took the age old story of the vampire and made it uniquely her own. How age old is it? Well according to the information found here: http://www.chebucto.ns.ca/~vampire/vhist.html , vampire myths go back thousands of years.  So even Bram Stoker, the author of “Dracula,” which was published in 1897 was borrowing the idea for his book from a legend.  Did he plagiarize it? No, and neither did Anne Rice.
  2. “Star Wars,” and “Lord of the Rings,” along with quite a few other books borrow from the some of the oldest themes in writing; the hero on a quest, the romantic couple, the wizard, the dark lord, etc.  But each of those stories takes those familiar themes and then does something completely different with them.  If you want to read more about this other archetypes in literature, and also some basic literary elements, there’s more information about them here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Archetype#Archetypes_in_literature

and here: http://www.orangeusd.k12.ca.us/yorba/literary_elements.htm

 

I’m sure that after reading these lists you might be able to think of other examples in literature and movies that also fit those ideas. I’m pretty sure each one of us could come up with something uniquely our own using this page as a guide and create something that could only come from our imaginations and abilities. 

 

But the bottom line is still this:

 

There is no reason why you or anyone else who claims to be a writer can’t do the same thing. Which of course is what any writer who has the capacity and the imagination to write should be able to do.  If you still want to argue that there are no original ideas and use that as an excuse to steal work and ideas that aren’t your own, then perhaps writing isn’t the field for you. Seriously.  Try something else.

 

So the next time you want to quote a song or words from a movie or borrow anything from another writer’s work give the original author, composer, movie or whatever it is, their due.  Use quotation marks, mention the author’s name, use citations but for god’s sake don’t pretend that it’s your own original work.  For those of us who are poets and fiction writers, that goes the same for you too.  We aren’t immune from being blacklisted and publically heralded as thieves.

 

Hopefully now its clear what plagarism is, so for those who aren’t sure you have an explanation and to those who you are doing it, you have a warning.  You will be found out, because sooner or later these kinds of things are always found out.  You will ruin your reputation and any hopes of having a writing career of any kind.  So you may want to ask yourself a couple of questions:

 

  1. Is the momentary attention that I’m receiving really worth losing my reputation as not only a writer, but also a honest human being really worth it?
  2. Do I really want a writing career, which  means not only that I’m a serious writer, but also that I’m willing to live up to standards of journalistic professionalism?
  3. Why am I doing this in the first place? If I’m a creative person then surely I must be able to come up with ideas of my own which come from me, my experiences, my abilities and my craft.

 

In the end its up to each one of us to decide what we want to do.  Ignorance isn’t an excuse,  there is no excuse for plagiarizing someone else’s work.


© 2009 Blackbirdsong



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Featured Review

Well first off, hats off to you for having the courage to say this as it is on the tip of everyone's tongue yet we all seem to go mute when there is time to get right down to brass tax!! You have said EVERYTHING that makes sense in terms of what a plagiarist is and God loves everyone, but this issue is really a thorn in my side. I was a victim once and when I contacted the website they did NOTHING! I sent a cease and desist letter and finally they took it down. It is both offensive and in BAD TASTE to copy other's writings...online or off, and take credit for it yourself...it is a shameful act and shouldn't be tolerated. A writer puts his or her blood, sweat and tears into what they create and to have it stolen is hurtful to say the least. I agree with you in saying that people CAN and SHOULD be able to write something on their own because like you said, if they can't they shouldn't be writing! Bravo, cheers, well done and all that other fun stuff...You did this professionally, you are a REAL writer! :)

PS- The picture is phenom. ;)

Posted 9 Years Ago


10 of 10 people found this review constructive.




Reviews

All writer learn from the great writers. Some lines are written as permanent record for us to remember. I have many poem took and rewrote. I believe if someone believed I' m good enough to steal from. I hope they will rewrite it better. The great writers can't be copies. The Neruda's and Keat's of the world are few. I record all my poetry and story on disk and copyright them. I write by hand first. I store them in books and hope someday to have time to create a poetry book or find time to write a book. I like the information. In the world of the internet we have lost control where our word may turn up at. Last year a European press put nine of poems into a magazine. I still don't know how they found my poetry? They did ask permission.
Coyote

Posted 7 Years Ago


Well, it ought to be more obvious than an alien sat at your breakfast table eating your dog what plagiarism is to anyone who has actually lived beyond the age of 12...!! However, in case such blockheads do exist, then this informative editorial ought to be as clear as crystal being driven into the forehead with a mallet. Well said.
There is someone I know of, however, who I know for certain will still totally misinterpret this article for their own ends and who has a lot to 'say' about plagiarism supposedly on this site. This person claims that ideas and 'phrases' have been copied from them by other writers in their own work. This is an area of the subject which should also be dealt with properly.. the way in which someone uses an idea or phrase is not plagiarism if it is used to create something completely different and original. This is how much original work is created in the first place. I mean to say, are you plagiarising the dictionary by using words that are contained within it in order to write anything at all...?
The example I give in reference to the person I am speaking about is "vortex in time" which they claim to be an original phrase created by them alone... It seems obvious to most people, I'm sure, that this phrase is as common as rats!!! The words "vortex" and "time" are so often used together as to be a cliche ..!! To people such as this it should be made clear to them by everyone what is plagiarism and what is accident and what is just merely similar.. I think sometimes it maybe a case of 'sour grapes' that someone else has made better use of an idea or phrase with an original concept of their own which just so happens to use certain well-known phrases or arrangements of words, and sometimes even a similar idea... but this is NOT plagiarism...!!!!

Posted 7 Years Ago


This is fantastic. Thank you for writing this in a way that is EASY to understand, and not an accusatory rant that is part english, part whatever else. Everyone on this site needs to read this. Great job. :D

Posted 7 Years Ago


I am going to plagiarize you if you don't come back! lol


I am not of course..i am kdding .. but .. wish you were here.

Posted 7 Years Ago


I have never understood how anyone can plagiarize and call it writing. To write is to think. To plagiarize is to copy. Machines can just as easily do that.

Posted 7 Years Ago


What breaks my heart is that I had to read this in the first place. You would think that fellow writers would respect, and honor this...but apparently not.

Very well said.

Posted 7 Years Ago


A1 article!!!

Posted 8 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

You so adequately put into words, an issue that needs to be brought to light in a writer's community. It definitely is not a form of flattery. It is a thief of another writer's thoughts put to paper. The outright raping of that very writer's soul. That is what those who take pen in hand do. They pour their heart and soul onto that piece of paper or tap it one stroke at a time onto a monitor. Some are just not vigilant enough to sow their own seeds of thoughts and reap a bountiful writing harvest from it. Instead they come behind and try to reap the very words you have sown and so vigilantly nourished, tended and transplanted to the field of literary arts. I am totally aagainst the act of cloning. What is born of a literary work should remain unique. A rose by any other name is still a rose, but how it pricks you, can be a totally different experience in writing. You wrote a very skillful, intelligent and easy to understand piece about plagiarism. I sincerly hope many will read and those that need to will take it to heart. To labor over a mass of words and struggle to raise a well written piece of literature, whether it be a poem, story, article or an instruction manual, is much like raising a child. Each is different and you love them all for their different qualities. But DON"T mess with my children. The mother beast within will come out with the thirst for blood. Maybe we could find a way to stamp the plagiarists forehead with a "P". Thank you for the inspiring witten words above. You are a devote mother to the children you have spawned with you life's blood of writer's ink.

Posted 8 Years Ago


Just wanted to thank you for caring enough to send this out to all of us. Debileah

Posted 8 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Kudos for explaining first, what plagerism is and second hOW one could plagerzie their work. This piece should be printed out by every writer and taped next to everyone's computer.

It is too easy to use the excuse that nothing is original, and yes certain themes have had a long run in mankind's history, but what is original (or at least should be) is us, the individual. If the theory is true that if 5 people saw the same accident, but each would provide a DIFFERENT account of the accident, the same should be said about our writing.

I am not sure what inspired you to post this (I am sure Nancy Drew had something to do with it), but I am glad that you did.

Posted 8 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.


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Added on February 6, 2008
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Blackbirdsong
Blackbirdsong

Turtle Island



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