Plagiarism

Eventually, all writers are going to come to this issue. I'm just going to share how I feel, because I think it's a really polarizing discussion. Be warned, you might not like what I have to say. I'm mostly going to just respond to points made on Tumblr by users agooduniverse and mythaelogy.

I think our world is becoming more and more global and more and more digital. It's easy to pick up a phone and message someone from 10,000 miles away. Things you share through the Internet can be viewed anywhere that has a connection. The fear of plagiarism is actually why I stopped posting a lot of poetry on the Internet.

So, about plagiarism.

Positive statement of the day: It is immoral to plagiarize.

Normative statement of the day: People will plagiarize.

Definition of plagiarism (in my own words): plagiarism is the act of taking someone else's words, ideas, phrases, or other creative products and passing it off as original content

The main idea, I think, of plagiarism:

passing off someone's work as your own original creation. 

Writers and other creative-content-producers can be incredibly idealistic, arguing against plagiarism and posting huge Creative Commons images on blogs and doing other things that, you know, may or may not work. Honestly, I believe that the higher you get in the creative world, the more plagiarists and copycats you're going to get. Take a look at every famous poet in the history of the English language. I'm willing to bet that every single one has been used as creative inspiration and "creative inspiration", if you know what I mean. Of course, that doesn't make it okay. But that's our baseline; that's the world we are currently in.

Anyways, I'm just going to go through these Tumblr posts (these poets are brilliant, and you should definitely check them out with the links I gave above) and try to respond. Now, I'm not saying they're wrong or trying to tear down their argument. I really just want to have a discussion, even if there's a chance that maybe they won't see this. I know this is kind of linked more to Tumblr, but I think a discussion on plagiarism for the art world in general would be really healthy.

  • I do believe people need to be more aware of plagiarism occurring in creative, or "non-serious" situations.

  • I don't think the line between creative inspiration and plagiarism is unclear at all, honestly. If you're basing your work off of someone else's, i.e. using their poem or artwork as a reference, then you have a responsibility to state your inspiration and give credit.

  • To a degree, I agree that people shouldn't use another author's phrases in their work. But cliches, aphorisms, etc., I think that's fine. But there are poems based off of the first line of other poems: a famous example is the response to Drayton's Sonnet 61, which I have currently forgotten. I think we can include phrases when we are responding to them.

  • There are entire literary movements and schools of thought and art, so "copying" another person's style is kind of stretching it, I think. Copy-pasting and just changing crucial adjectives or adverbs or names and then saying, "I wrote a poem!" isn't right, but developing (through osmosis or through the individual art journey) a style similar to another artist isn't necessarily plagiarism.

  • For forms like sonnets, sestinas, etc., you can't really "plagiarize" the form. But yes, for original form, logical order of ideas, for word phrases, for word order, diction, connotation: I do believe that you can plagiarize and that people who are trying to be "inspired" by a poet's form must give credit.

  • Yeah no removing the source for a poem on Tumblr just isn't okay.

  • To me, the title is part of the poem. Removing it is just as blasphemous as removing a different line in the poem.