Tags:
  1. ranjit23das
    Offline

    ranjit23das Member

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2012
    Messages:
    93
    Likes Received:
    4
    Location:
    Leeds, UK

    What is the line for plagiarism? How will one know that one is crossed it?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by ranjit23das, Dec 30, 2013.

    All,

    Taking advice from one of the other contributors on this site, I began to read Guy de Maupassant's work. Some of his stories are set in France during the war between France and Prussia. One Story called the "Two Friends" tells of two friends who leave the safety of Paris, whilst it is being attacked by the Prussian troops. The friends want to go fishing in the river like the old days. They are captured by the Prussian army and killed.

    If I take this idea and transfer it to modern times and set it in South Sudan for example and change the context from fishing to visiting a wife's grave, would I be accused of plagiarism?
     
  2. Earthshine
    Offline

    Earthshine Member

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2013
    Messages:
    42
    Likes Received:
    6
    Location:
    Australia
    It really depends on how similar you keep it. If the events are the same, the characters the same, the pacing the same...it may well seemed plagiarized. But if you create your own characters, if you rework the idea, if you change the plotting...who knows?

    But really, wouldn't you like to write your own story? I mean, it's fine to borrow ideas from other sources, but this sounds like out-and-out copying. Wouldn't it be more satisfying to rework the idea into something truly original and unique. If I were you, I would work the idea down to the most basic premise, and then write my own story based on this idea. You might surprise yourself at the gems you can some up with.
     
  3. thirdwind
    Offline

    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2008
    Messages:
    7,352
    Likes Received:
    2,895
    Location:
    Boston
    No, it's not plagiarism. You're simply using an idea and writing it in your own words, which is perfectly fine.

    If you lifted sentences and passages from the original work, then that would be plagiarism.
     
  4. Alesia
    Offline

    Alesia Pen names: AJ Connor, Carey Connolly Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2013
    Messages:
    998
    Likes Received:
    251
    Location:
    Knoxville, TN
    Ideas can't be plagiarized, only sentences and paragraphs.
     
  5. A.M.P.
    Offline

    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2013
    Messages:
    2,032
    Likes Received:
    1,131
    Location:
    A Place with no History
    It's only plagiarism if you copy paste it.
    Or simply restructure the sentences in your own words.
    Or use the exact same sequence of everything that could be construed as a "clone".
     
  6. ChickenFreak
    Offline

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    8,985
    Likes Received:
    5,503
    Ideas absolutely can be plagiarized. They can't be *copyrighted*. Which are we talking about?
     
    Steerpike likes this.
  7. Steerpike
    Online

    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2010
    Messages:
    11,106
    Likes Received:
    5,316
    Location:
    California, US
    Yep. For example, if a researcher took another researcher's theories and passed them off as his own in a publication, I think that would be plagiarism. I don't think the OP's situation constitutes plagiarism though. Not if it is just taking the broad idea of the earlier story and writing a new story that incorporates them.
     
  8. David K. Thomasson
    Offline

    David K. Thomasson Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2013
    Messages:
    341
    Likes Received:
    122
    Location:
    Lynchburg, Virginia
    No. The movie "Clueless" was an acknowledged knockoff of the plot of Jane Austen's great novel Emma. No one could sensibly call that plagiarism.
     
  9. JayG
    Offline

    JayG Banned Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2013
    Messages:
    642
    Likes Received:
    358
    Location:
    Philadelphia PA
    In the end, a story is about someone solving a problem in a way the reader finds exciting. Are you certain that Guy de Maupassant's story isn't a restating of some story he liked as a child?
     
    Man in the Box and Alesia like this.
  10. Alesia
    Offline

    Alesia Pen names: AJ Connor, Carey Connolly Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2013
    Messages:
    998
    Likes Received:
    251
    Location:
    Knoxville, TN
    Jay hit the nail on the head. Like I've said hundreds of times on this forum, with close to three billion known works circulating about, there is NO such thing as a new idea these days.
     
  11. ranjit23das
    Offline

    ranjit23das Member

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2012
    Messages:
    93
    Likes Received:
    4
    Location:
    Leeds, UK
    Thanks everyone for your comments. Let me write up the short scene and post for comments.
     
  12. Mike Kobernus
    Offline

    Mike Kobernus Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2013
    Messages:
    301
    Likes Received:
    127
    Location:
    Norway
    You can always reuse a plot convention. No rule against that. To quote the bard, "There is nothing new under the Sun." A point that he amply demonstrated within his own plays, since pretty much ALL of them were inspired (aka copied) from other sources. Romeo and Juliet was an old story when he got his inky hands on it, but that did not stop him rewriting it to a level that left the other versions in the dust. He did not just use the main plot, but even some dialogue as well from at least one previous publication (an Italian poem). Although, to be fair, this was all done with his own flair and style.
     
  13. ChickenFreak
    Offline

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    8,985
    Likes Received:
    5,503
    My concern is that the use of the word "plagiarism" suggests, to me, an academic setting. I believe that in an academic setting you absolutely do not want to fool around with the possibility of being accused of stealing another's ideas. Even if copyright can't touch you, plagiarism can end your career.

    If plagiarism is just being loosely used as a term to refer to taking ideas or inspiration from another, there may not be an issue, but I'm not at all clear either way right now.
     
  14. outsider
    Offline

    outsider Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2012
    Messages:
    968
    Likes Received:
    609
    Location:
    Glasgow, Scotland
    Academically speaking, plagiarism is when you directly pass off someone else's work as your own. As another poster has said you effectively, cut and paste.
    The OP's situation could not be considered as such if he merely uses the broad basis of the story to inspire another.
    How many such works based on Shakespeare's have there been? A great many.
     
  15. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    and how much of the bard's work was based on previous ones?
     
  16. outsider
    Offline

    outsider Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2012
    Messages:
    968
    Likes Received:
    609
    Location:
    Glasgow, Scotland
    Indeed, Ancient Greek mythology and tragedy being one such example.
     
  17. ChickenFreak
    Offline

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    8,985
    Likes Received:
    5,503
    I remember a fairly recent discussion in which a college or grad student read a work, presented an idea in his own work, and belatedly remembered that the idea had been in the work that he had read. He wasn't even positive that he had received the idea from the work instead of coming up with it on his own, and he certainly used his own words to express it. But there was still a potential issue of plagiarism.
     

Share This Page