It is not easy to understand what plagiarism is and how to detect plagiarism. A great case of plagiarism, well-known by ordinary people and not only in academic circles, is Madonna's song Frozen released in 1998. Back then, the mega pop-star could hardly imagine that because of the hit she would have to face Belgian court seven years later.
Salvatore Acquaviva is a Belgian songwriter, little known to general public, who claimed that part of Frozen was stolen from his song, written five years before. He filed the lawsuit against Madonna. The Belgian judge, who heard the case against the American pop-star, rules that all the compact-discs with Frozen have to be withdrawn and not allowed to be sold in Belgium. Also, Belgian radio stations, as well as TV channels, can no longer play the song.
Madonna is not the first and, obviously, not the last artist to be affected by plagiarism accusation. It is not always easy to understand is this plagiarism, or not. Very often, plagiarism occurs without artist knowing it when it is already too late.
In short, plagiarism occurs when you use other people's work without providing proper references. Plagiarism is possible when you repeat someone's exact words, paraphrase or summarize someone's idea. It may be done intentionally or by mistake. Anyway, plagiarism accusation, when there is a serious evidence behind it, may lead to serious consequences.
When a student is found guilty of plagiarism, they are usually forced to leave college or university. For a college professor, it may end as bad as terminating their work contract. Artists, faced with plagiarism accusations, are most of the time sued for monetary compensations.
The problem of plagiarism has become even more serious with the rise of the internet which makes "copy and paste" as easy and tempting as never before. A few years ago, almost 50 students were forced to leave the University of Virginia because of plagiarism accusations. As studies have shown, most students are well aware that plagiarism is wrong. Still, they believe they will be lucky enough not to get caught. There are also students who plagiarize by mistake, simply not understanding how to reference properly and what is the best plagiarism checker.
Another problem is a big number of essay writing services and websites, called "paper mills". Through such websites, students can exchange completed papers, copy other people's work and submit it as their own. In this case an originality checker is not always effective.
Plagiarism is not a criminal activity although it is not legal and may have some serious ramifications, especially if it violates intellectual property rules. In such case, a plagiarizer can be sued for copyright violation. As a result, plagiarizer may be forced to pay monetary compensation to the copyright owner and, besides that, legal costs.
Plagiarism occurs very often and is likely to occur in the future. Many famous figures have been accused of plagiarism, among them Helen Keller, Martin Luther King, famous historians Doris Kearns Goodwin and Stephen Ambrose, George Harrison from Beatles, Jayson Blair who worked as a reporter at New York Times, and many others.
Fighting plagiarism is not easy. However, there are search engines and software that allow searching the internet for suspicious papers and passages.
Thank you for reading my article!
My name is Tobias Casey. I am a freelance writer with more than 5 years of experience in content writing and blogging, currently employed by noplag.com where I help them with their blog. Also, on a part time basis, I do freelance tutoring. I help my students with their struggles to become a better writer, how to avoid grammar mistakes, spelling mistakes. How to be concise and yet descriptive. How to prove their point in the simplest language possible. How to use proper vocabulary, syntax, punctuation and tone of voice. And of course, how to avoid plagiarism in their reviews, essays and articles. Working in the education sphere, I realized how important it is to be helpful and to be able to deal with any problems students may have in their learning process.