Plagiarism, Intended Or Not

In Internet Age, Writers Face Frontier Justice
Another Book Found Plagiarised, Maybe?
(Will need to register to read both articles)

Comment to the first link: I remember, when I was younger, I had caught the storywriting bug myself. One of the stories that I wrote involved a character named “Superbear” which was heavily influenced by an Underdog episode (I’ll admit that there was more of that episode in the story than there was other input, including my own). When one of my classmates said he saw a VERY similar Underdog episode (somehow I thought I was the only person who woke up early in the morning to watch Underdog episodes), I stammered my way through, saying something along the line of “yes, I did use it as inspiration; but I added things of my own invention”.

Lucky for me it was just in fourth grade. The worst I could suffer was a bit of embarrassment and an “F,” and have multiple chances to redeem myself (as the teacher liked to assign writing assignments on a frequent, regular basis). I wasn’t eagerly waited with a book ready to sell in a world with eight million critics, each one ready to point out where I stole stuff from.

Comment to the second link: Now this is beginning to be piling on.

There is such a thing as emulation. Indeed, it used to be that people used to say “he sounds like so-and-so” and people would have fun figuring out who influenced the artist, and where. Not it’s almost like you have to be a tabula rasa to get your dues.

Here’s the NYT article involving one line:

In one scene in Ms. Kinsella’s book, which was published by Dial Press, the main character, Emma, comes upon two of her friends “in a full-scale argument about animal rights,” and one says, “The mink like being made into coats.”

In Ms. Viswanathan’s book, Opal, the heroine, encounters two girls having “a full-fledged debate over animal rights.”

“The foxes want to be made into scarves,” one of them says.

Thing is, I remember watching a movie titled “The Opposite Sex” in which the first words in the song played over the first shot (a fur scarf, may I add) are “Why do foxes get willingly Trapped?”

Maybe I should shout about Ms. Kinsella plagiarising MGM? Or, better yet, assume that sometimes people hold interesting phrases, ideas and sentences they come across and they come out later.

Maybe because Ms. Viswanathan had already been found out as a plagiarist (as admitted by her, even if she claims it was unintentional) she gets a harder, deeper grilling that already assumes guilt where similarities pop up. An obvious move, since guilt in one area implies guilt in other areas. Otherwise, this would be treated not so much plagiarism as reuse; something every artist does.

And didn’t we just see a case about someone using “similar plot points” fail; thank god?

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