Plagiarism is considered a “mortal sin” to writers. Plagiarism is defined as taking someone else’s work and passing it off as your own. This mainly applies to things considered “intellectual property” – written articles in any form, photographs and inventions. These represent the creator’s language, thoughts, ideas or expression and it becomes plagiarism if someone wrongfully appropriates these and makes it their own without giving due acknowledgement to the owner and seeks to profit from it.
How Bad Is Plagiarism?
In the legal aspect, plagiarism is not a crime in the sense that the offender can be punished to the full extent of the law (like going to prison). However, it is an ethical offense, particularly among the academe and the media (journalists). In business, the closest to plagiarism would be copyright infringement which can be subject to legal action and as such, make the offender accountable and given the appropriate punishment. This is why the owners of these intellectual properties have their works copyrighted thereby protecting their works from being plagiarized or pirated.
Since plagiarism is not a crime, the most institutions can do to erring members is to mete sanctions that usually comes in the form of suspension and dismissal (get fired), and probably be ostracized among his or her peers.
It is for this reason writers must cite or acknowledge their sources. Furthermore, the “borrowed” ideas must support their own. Originality is still required.
Related Link: What Is Plagiarism?
Why Is Plagiarism Wrong? (Why Is It Wrong to Copy?)
As early as secondary school where students begin writing papers, they are taught to be original when writing. If they have to use the ideas of others, they must duly acknowledge them through citation. It is no secret that students here (up to college) tend to copy to shortcut the writing given it is very tedious work because it entails research and a lot of writing.
Plagiarizing is indicative of not making an effort to be creative, relying on other’s work just to comply with the requirements in class (submit a paper). This practice if unchecked is carried over to college and beyond to the point it may become a habit.
Furthermore, plagiarism can be regarded as a form of theft. The plagiarizer is stealing the ideas of someone else. The latter has worked hard, spent a lot of time and effort to finish their work and it is an insult that someone who has not made the same effort to simply “lift” their ideas and make it their own just for the sake of expediency or personal gain.
It is because those who do it find it expedient or convenient to get something done. It is a sign of laziness in not getting their minds to work and develop original ideas. It is made even easier now with the World Wide Web (Internet) where information is virtually accessible and anyone can pick it as easy as picking a fruit from a tree and the knowledge that no one would know (until it is published).
Can Plagiarism Apply to Bloggers?
Now comes the kicker: There is a question on whether bloggers must also be subject to plagiarism rules. There have been numerous instances where bloggers have been called out for “copy-pasting” text written by their original authors and not being duly acknowledged; and this has gone unchecked.
It can be gleaned here that most if not some bloggers are neither from the academe not from the media. It can be seen on the manner and style they write their articles (usually informal). Since these bloggers do not belong to these circles, they have this impression that plagiarism rules do not apply to them since they do not profit from their postings.
Although the writer feels bloggers should also be subjected to the same ethical standards as academics and journalists, the problem is plagiarism is not a crime and they cannot be punished (unless intellectual property is copyrighted). Since they do not belong to the academe or media circles, they cannot be held accountable though they can be ostracized or have their accounts suspended or revoked if anyone will report it.
They say imitation is the highest form of flattery; but as far as plagiarism is concerned, it can be considered a form of theft because plagiarists are “stealing” the ideas of others. The original authors put a lot of time and effort to make their works and it is indeed an insult and travesty for anyone to steal their work and pass it off as their own.
Writers, whether academics, journalists and ALSO bloggers, must always cite or duly acknowledge the original authors if they are to use their ideas to support or reinforce their own. Originality is greatly encouraged if not required to anyone who writes.
Featured Image Source: Abdul Wahab Saleem