1. Honeybun
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    Honeybun Active Member

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    Plagiarism!! Have your say...

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Honeybun, Oct 31, 2009.

    Hi there,

    We all seem to agree that plagiarism is a "no, no." But copying is something that is part and parcel of the writing business, though permission should be sought. Or is it?

    Now what justifies the copying could either be the author's aknowledging the source, before which he should gain concent from the original person who wrote it, let alone the character being portrayed in the piece of work (be it a play or movie script).

    How can someone avoid controversy while still completing his work and allowing it to be produced if he were to rip off someone else's work or life? Taking into consideration that any twist in that person's life may result in defaming him/her.

    I hope that made sense, cos I'm a bit confused here :confused:
     
  2. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you're considering adding a real-life person to your work and then defame them, well, then you're on thin ice.
     
  3. Honeybun
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    Honeybun Active Member

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    True, Horus. But such a case actually took place in real life... like da!! lol The funny thing is, there are examples of authors who've done this and managed to get away with it and their works turn out a hit!!

    ....???
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Are you talking about plagiarism, or defamation? They are two entirely different things.

    If you copy someone's creative work (the actual creative work, not the ideas - ideas are not copyrightable), in whole or in part, that is plagiarism, and is indefensible.
     
  5. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    Give us a precise example of what you want to do?
     
  6. Honeybun
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    Honeybun Active Member

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    I'm not sure if I can mention examples here....?
     
  7. Kas
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    Kas Contributing Member

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    I apologise in advance if I'm derailing the thread, (I'm not really sure what the OP is asking) but. . . why are comedy writers apparently immune to this? It seems like at least half of any comedian's material is nothing but defamation of character these days. . .

    Take the South Park "Fish Sticks" episode. It was a lame episode, but I'm tired, so this is the best my brain can come up with atm. . .

    Jimmy comes up with a joke that goes like this:

    "Do you like fish sticks?"

    "Yeah. . ."

    "You like putting fish sticks in your mouth?"

    "Umm, yeah."

    "So, what are you, man? A gay fish?"

    Yep, stupid joke. Anyway, Kanye West was the only person in the world who couldn't understand the joke. Carlos Mencia claimed credit for the joke, because, according to the South Park writers, he steals all of his material and "just recylces it with a spanish accent". The character of Carlos confesses all of this to Kanye when Kanye kidnaps Carlos and threatens to kill him if he doesn't explain the joke (why everyone is calling him a gay fish). Kanye finally kills Carlos when he can't explain the joke. Ultimately, in the end, Kanye accepts his identity as a "gay fish" and goes off to live his new life, making bad music under da sea.

    So. . . They totally ripped Carlos Mencia to pieces, putting the worst possible words in his character's mouth: "I steal all of my material". As for Kanye, I'm not entirely sure what the point was (I don't even really know who this guy is, other than some rapper. . .). In any case, it wasn't flattering. Where is the line? Do comedy writers have some kind of special creative lisence?

    I am hopelessly confused by this. . . because just about every truly famous person out there has been utterly destroyed by comedians (among other people) at one time or another, and usually by using said people as characters in some crazy story. . .

    Just to be clear, SP said very directly that Carlos Mencia rips off other comedians. It wasn't just a general insult like "He's a douche". It was more of an accusation. Is it acceptable simply because the story is obviously fiction?

    I can uderstand how claiming specific events to be true without evidence could land a person in trouble.
     
  8. Honeybun
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    Honeybun Active Member

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    Kas, I think you kinda express the point that I'm trying to clarify here.

    The case that I was throwing at was Bryony Lavery's play "Frozen", where a serial killer kidnaps a small girl and so on. Then there's this American criminal psychologist, Agnetha who examines the criminal. Later in the play, a relationship evolves between the bad guy and Agnetha, who is originally portraying Dr Dorothy Lewis (the real character). Lavery used Lewis's memoir and employed it to her character. After Lewis heard about and seen the play, she felt appaulled and that her life had been stolen from her.

    The problem is, despite the controversy and all the fuss that went about Lavery's plagiarism, she got away with it - merely apologizing here and there, saying that it was sheer stupidity that she hadn't been carefull with her obvious ripping- her play was a hit in Broadway!
     
  9. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Again, that has nothing to do with plagiarism whatsoever.
     
  10. zaphod
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    zaphod Member

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    Carlos Mencia and South Park are on the same network. Comedy Central isn't going to sue itself for defamation. That's how the show gets away with it.
     
  11. Honeybun
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    Honeybun Active Member

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    Lavery's case does have to do with plagiarism. She had used verbatim words from Malcolm Gladwell's article about Lewis, plus using material from her memoir.
     
  12. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Oh, that wasn't at all clear from what you posted.
     
  13. marina
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    marina Contributing Member Contributor

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    But from what I read, she "got away with it" because Lewis apparently did not decide to sue her, and Gladwell ended up basically giving her a free pass to the lifting of his text from his article. The issue was 2-fold: plagiarism for using exact wording from Lewis's & Gladwell's materials, and defamation for essentially using Lewis's character (but just giving her a different name in her play) but then adding events on to her life that never occurred--the relationship with the killer.

    I wouldn't want to take a chance of being accused of plagiarism and/or defamation. Unless you're going to do a retelling of the life of William Shakespeare or some other long-dead person, I'd avoid doing what this playwright did, and of course, I'd avoid lifting passages from someone else's material.
     
  14. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    cog is right, honeybun... you're confusing plagiarism with libel and defamation of character... two completely different things...

    yes, people get away with the latter all the time... and a few even get away with the former, now and then... but if you're thinking of trying it, DON'T... that is, unless you have tons of money and a reputation you can afford to lose...
     
  15. Honeybun
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    Honeybun Active Member

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    It's true, she got a way with it, one way or another!

    The thing is, no one can hardly escape from such a scheme without causing an uproar. Lavery did. The only persons to ever have reacted as far as I know are Lewis, and Gladwell, though the latter chose to avert from pointing the finger at Lavery regarding what she had done as a work of art and that his words had been used for a grander cause.
     
  16. Honeybun
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    Honeybun Active Member

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    Mamma, I'm completely aware of the difference. Perhaps I have misrepresented the issue from the start *blushing*

    Certainly I wouldn't attempt to such a thing.
     
  17. InkDream
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    InkDream Senior Member

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    Plagiarism is a sticky subject and I"m not entirely sure that your definition is the same as that of the publishing or academic world. Everything I know about it I learned as a student at a university. If you give credit where it is due, acknowledge those that influenced you without ripping off their ideas, you're safe. A prime example of plagiarism would be fan fiction (aside from just copy and pasting someone's work) although you wouldn't get in trouble over it unless you tried/succeeded in publishing it.
     
  18. MarchOfMephisto
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    MarchOfMephisto Member

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    Would Angela Carter's Wise Children be a form of plagiarism? She frequently refers to Shakespeare's plays and some things are direct "copying" (didn't know how to phrase that) from them. For example, Tiffany's breakdown is exactly the same as Ophelia's breakdown in Hamlet.
    I always get afraid with the things I write because when I read them back to myself I notice things that are very similar to either real people (famous or otherwise) or books/films that I've recently read/seen.
     
  19. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    Shakespeare is in the public domain, so all bets are off. You can do anything you want to him. Which is how I think all art and media in the public sphere should be, but that's another matter...
     
  20. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Not entirely true, Although there is no copyright in effect, you still need to acknowledge the source.

    You might feel differently if it were your hard work and artistic efforts, and your source of income, up for grabs.
     
  21. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    if she'd done that with a work that's still under copyright, it could have been plagiarism... i haven't read what you're referring to, so can't tell more definitely than that...

    however, mere 'similarity' to another's work usually isn't, though that could be 'copyright infringement' in some cases... the latter is a much more complicated and 'greyer' area...
     

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