Plagiarism…Play or Pay?

Plagiarism…the theft of someone else’s creative work.

Sure…everyone knows they will get a big fat F if their high school  teacher finds out that their term paper turns out to be the work of William Shakespeare…or Danielle Steel …or Dr. Seuss.   No student writer in his or her  right mind is going to steal much from Stephen King…and what ninth grade General Science student is going to try to pass off as his own work passages from Charles Darwin.

At the University level trying to pass off some obscure paper written by Steven Hawking  as one’s own work can result in academic probation…or even expulsion from the institution.    Even worse, professional plagiarists in any field– or area of academe–may find disgrace and loss of reputation if they purloin another writer’s work.

Worst case scenarios aside, and beyond the scope of this brief post, are such issues as legal complications and…just plain embarrassment, and shame, that comes with having friends and colleagues know that one is a thief.

Yes– words such as “thief” and “steal” are pretty strong.  Most “plagiarists” actually don’t intend to do anything illegal, or even morally wrong.  Borrowing a comment, a passage, a page…even an entire essay, or encyclopedia article–a practice so wide-spread and commonplace that most (many at least) mean no harm, or give it a thought other than a twinge of conscience and a silent prayer that their “loan” will remain unnoticed by their teachers.

Same rationale for the use of a photo online.   Who is going to notice a generic picture of a Boxer dog.   If you see one Boxer you’ve seen them all…right?   No, wrong.  In this scenario that rationale can lead to a lot of grief–when the photographer who shot the photo of her dog, “Bimbo the Boxer,” discovers that her prize-winning unique photo has been borrowed and appears elsewhere on the internet passed off as a similar dog of the same breed…there is likely grounds for a lawsuit because the photo of Bimbo was used in someone else’s blog.

This can be plagiarism unless the owner of the photo has granted specific permission to the blogger to use the photo, and has been given proper attribution and identification.  Just a note: “photo courtesy of boxermomphotography” or something to that effect.  or a © copyright notice.

The point is that unless a passage from a book, letter, post, newspaper article, photograph or original image like a drawing or painting… is determined to be in the Public Domain–which means any copyright on the item has expired, or was not copyrighted in the first place–it may not be used except by obtaining specific permission to use the material.

Photos, art, images…there are thousands of examples on the internet of pictures of sunsets, kittens, landscapes, sports……movie stars, flowers…  and best of all–countless choices exist for free access, because these are on the public domain. That means these countless items of art and literature can legally, and in good conscience, be used by anyone at any time, for virtually any purpose.

Want a picture of a Boxer dog?   A search of the internet will reveal numerous examples of photos that are in the Public Domain, and can be used–technically without permission or even attribution, although common courtesy dictates that a brief notation indicating the origin of the item, and a statement to the effect that it is in the Public Domain.

Following is a link which addresses the question “what is plagiarism?”

A simple search of the word plagiarism provides many links, including wikipedia entries.  A thorough discussion of this important topic is beyond the scope of this post.  Specific rules and regulations regarding Copyright, Fair Use, and the differences among various nations  are extensive and detailed…and too broad to be addressed here.



22 thoughts on “Plagiarism…Play or Pay?

  1. Sadly…..lots of this sort of ‘purloining’ goes on these days…..especially with so much being available ‘online’ – even the rich and famous have been caught out…. 🙄 Hugs!


  2. Your comments are certainly prudent. And exigent. Plagiarism of text is easier for me to deal with, having taught many kinds of writing. I must say, thankfully, that I only had to deal with two cases of plagiarism in an overt way in several years of work. But I also taught ahead, alerting students to the matter of plagiarism, how most of the time it happens accidentally and without devious intent, and how teachers have ways of finding out what’s original (we do).

    Photos and images concern me more. Finding something in Google images is one thing, and I dig to find some credit to assign to the work, anyway. So often, though, I find photos or images unattributed and without a way to find the source. Then I feel stuck. This might be one reason, in addition to technical ignorance, why I don’t post too many pictures on my blog, until directed. And I always look for the source.

    This issue can be addressed preventively. You’re doing that here in raising the concerns now. Thanks!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. so far I have posted only one photo that was not mine. That one I obtained permission to use and gave full credit. The misuse of pics is wide spread though, and a lot of users don’t care…oblivious or careless. There is so much in the public domain there is no excuse..

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Certainly, you are right. There is so much free (so-to-speak) stuff (so-to-speak) out there. There’s also the positive consideration that folk want to know the source of something. To better use it (in a good way) later on. Again, Thanks!


      2. we are each preaching to the choir here I think:-) I do copyright my poetry, but often forget about it on photos. I’ve seen comments to the effect that photos are all the work of the blogger unless otherwise noted. I’m lax about that.


    2. I’m not a teacher, actually I was a TA…history discussion classes. Some of my entry-level students were for all intents and purposes, illiterate. Not being cruel…its true. Fortunately some of them played basketball, which was a problem…if you get my drift. Since my subject was History, I cut them (a lot) of slack on spelling and writing. One of my fellow TAs once said he didn’t take off points for spelling because he didn’t spell so well himself. 🙂 Another just said “I’m their teacher, not their friend…”and zapped them for errors. I did correct errors on my student’s papers…but didn’t subtract points.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Good for you for doing the correcting. Spelling is necessary for technological life, which for many would sound ironic. The computer will not save us if we don’t type certain things just right.

        I love the photo of the cats atop. Cats living in reflection.

        Thanks (yet again)!


      2. It was important to point out to them that there were grammatical or spelling mistakes in their papers. There was a correlation I think, those who had decent English skills also tended to learn about History. 🙂 Our department head came back from a big national conference once and told us that the consensus was that NONE of the students held great spelling skills. An exaggeration I’m sure. 🙂 I have always believed that spelling is a skill..either one can learn spelling rules, or they can’t. I would tell them to find someone who could spell well and have them proof-read…”not yer sister that can’t spell either.” Spellcheck isn’t fool-proof, but it helps somewhat. I consider myself a good speller, but my brain has a way of shorting out with certain words.


  3. I think I can guess what led to this posting. I highly recommend researching the quote in question. I hope this is what yyou are referring to. I believe that public domain can be used for this quote as opposed to plagiarism.
    Entry from August 28, 2013

    “My word is my bond” (“Word is bond”); Dictum Meum Pactum
    “My word is my bond” (Dictum Meum Pactum in Latin) became the motto of theLondon Stock Exchange in 1923 and the Security Traders Association in 1934. “My word is my bond” is an old saying that has been cited in print since at least 1748. 

    The American rapper Ice-T released “My word is bond” is 1988, and the saying became popular with other hip hop artists. “Word is bond” was released byHouse of Pain in 1994 and 5th Ward Boyz in 2003. 

    Liked by 1 person

    1. no…this post was written six months ago in response to a site I was in that insisted on using photos not in the public domain. The current subject…there was much more extensive “quotation” from the speech to have come from public domain.


    2. reading the two speeches side by side clearly shows that some of the quotation is verbatim. The original post had nothing to do with the current issue.


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