Plagiarism outside of academia

Graphic by Lena Yang

Graphic by Lena Yang

Everyone knows that stealing is wrong and we shouldn’t do it. In the same way, you wouldn’t steal someone’s laptop, their less tangible items shouldn’t be stolen either.

Taking someone else’s creation, whether an idea, research, written piece or artwork without their consent is stealing. It’s plagiarism and it should be seen equally as wrong as taking someone’s wallet.

In a world where everything is digitalized, it can be hard not to plagiarize. We’re taking in so much information every day that influences our views and ideas. But that’s not any excuse for the behaviour of stealing from someone else.

Unintentional and lighthearted copying is still plagiarism.

That’s one of the things you should be learning from university. You can’t pass off someone else’s ideas or research as your own.

If you’ve graduated and still don’t understand that basic fact, I’m not sure what you actually learned.

Plagiarism is a serious offence from a university standpoint. It could have extreme negative implications on your academic career.

It’s the easiest thing in the world to avoid. Just give the original creator credit for their work.

It’s so easy. We’re constantly giving credit where credit is due in our daily lives.

If you’re trying a new recipe, you’ll say you found it on Pinterest. Talking about current events? You read it on Facebook. Fun facts? Read them on Buzzfeed. New profile picture? You tag your best friend for photo credits.

Hell, it’s a common fact that Fifty Shades of Grey was a Twilight fan-fiction. It’s natural to pick up information from various places and give them acknowledgement when you reuse them.

Giving credit where it’s due for inspiration doesn’t take away from the integrity of the new piece. In fact, it gives it more integrity because it’s not hiding anything or perpetuating falsehoods.

So why is it so hard to admit what you’re doing isn’t original when it comes to ideas and creativity?

Do we think it makes us sound smarter if we come across as original? Whittier? Funnier?

I remember walking with some friends last year and one told a joke. “My life is like that Rhianna song. Work, work, work, work, work, and I don’t really understand the rest.” We all laughed. She followed it up by saying “I can’t take credit. I saw it on Spotted.”

It’s that simple, folks. You can still get the laughs. You can still get your point across. And you can do it all without being a jackass.

When you really like something, you want to share it in your own way. But you can’t just pass it off as your own.

No matter how innocent your intent, when you plagiarize, you’re stealing.

Even unintentionally, you’re taking away from the original creator. It’s a bad situation and you’re just going to make them feel bad in the process if they find out.

And eventually, you’re going to get caught. There’s no TurnItIn.com for everyday life, but everyone these days has social media.

Eventually someone is going to recognize that joke you made from Twitter or that phrase you stole from Tumblr. They’re going to see through that blog post you stole from an article in The Cord.

Sooner or later, you’re going to get called on your bullshit and it’s going to be a smelly situation.

Get in the habit of recognizing other people’s work. If you like it enough to steal it, you should like it enough to keep their name attached to it.

If you can’t remember it, say where you found it. It’s the least you can do for a couple of likes or a few minutes of laughter.

If you can’t be original, at least be honest.

Leave a Reply