I am aghast when I see people do blatantly illegal and unethical acts in such a brazen manner. If it’s not an accident, I have trouble understanding it especially when it is stealing. And that is exactly what plagiarism is — stealing! So how do these people think they can get away with it? I honestly don’t know.
High Number of Plagiarism Incidents
The stealing of words and ideas is nothing new. It has been around for hundreds of years as print media increased in production and availability. Yet with the advancement of technology and the prolific media, the incidents are growing and being exposed left and right. Even some well-known authors you have read over the years have been guilty of this. You’d be surprised who.
Why are there so many incidents of stealing words? What makes someone steal from others? What has changed over the years?
Yes, we all love the Internet. It is a valuable resource. But like with many good things, it can be corrupted and used for evil. The source of so much fun and information also allows plagiarists to have their own fun.
Copy and pasting is sooooo easy. I admit that I copy/paste on a daily basis. Now don’t take that to mean that I am plagiarizing all the time or even part of the time. It is easier than writing down notes when I can just copy/paste and not lose any vital information. I also make sure I note exactly where I got it. That typically is the URL of the site. Then I read over it and either paragraph, reference, or quote. Either way I note where I found the information.
Now it could be easy for me to accidently plagiarize or even intentionally do it. The ease of copying and pasting just makes it a matter of a few clicks and then viola! I’ve stolen someone’s words and claimed them as mine.
So, the high number of incidents can be attributed to the Internet, but the truth is that plagiarism was rampant long before the Internet. So, does it really stand to accuse the technology for the laziness, greed, and stupidity of people?
The Purpose of Plagiarism
So, why do people try to plagiarize?Are they just stupid or arrogant? Maybe they are both. The only reason I can see for someone plagiarizing is that the person is dishonest. Oh, and they have no creative bone in their body so they take someone else’s creativity.
Some writers swear that the plagiarism is an accident. It was a mistake. They just forgot, or their assistant did it. Really? If so, then you aren’t very good at your work.
Most people plagiarize because they don’t want to work hard enough to come up with their own version.
Their Excuses When Caught
Most plagiarists just claim it was an accident. They meant to put the quotes around the words or to cite the paraphrased section. They just forgot in the rush to finish a manuscript.
Others claim it really wasn’t plagiarism since the put the original writer’s name in a footnote but didn’t put quotation marks around those words taken.
It all comes down to the fact that they didn’t really mean to. Yeah, right!
The Damage It Does
Plagiarism causes a lot of damage. For one thing it takes away from the one who did all the hard work. They struggled sometimes for years to finish their work only to see someone else take it and claim it as their own.
It also hurts the venue the stolen work was published under. Publishers and media outlets loose credibility. They have to act fast to save face. They have to show they are not supporters of theft, but the damage is done as readers question how good their staff is in ferreting out thieves.
Then there is the guilty party. What credibility? Even if they are a talented author, readers will shy from their work because it is not really theirs. The exceptions are usually be established authors who have strong followings who really don’t care.
Journalists have lost their jobs when their indiscretion was discovered. Professors have had their degrees stripped and the jobs terminated. Authors have had their books pulled off the shelves, speaking engagements cancelled, and a bleak future as a writer.
I guess the question comes down to whether or not it is really worth it.