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You are a university student. You copy your assignment from a source on the web and present it as your own work. Is this plagiarism? YES.
You are a journalist. You write an article that is written, partly or wholly, by someone else on a different magazine without mentioning the source. Is this plagiarism? YES.
You have a Facebook account. You write a quote from a famous person without citing the source. Is this plagiarism? NO.
In a party, you sing a song for everyone. You have neither written the song nor the music. You don’t mention that it is someone else’s. Is this plagiarism? NO.
You dress yourself like a fashionable artist without saying who you imitating. Is this plagiarism? NO.
You have a social media account with limited audience and you write a blog which is partly from the public domain web without mentioning the source. Is this plagiarism? NO.
You work for a company that is “reverse engineering” another company’s product. When they finish, they present it as their own original design. Is this plagiarism? NO.
Chinese Government has copied many industrial machines from the Western countries. They sell them worldwide as Chinese products. Is this plagiarism? NO.
You like the life style of a character in a Holy Book and start living his ways without telling who you are following. Is this plagiarism? NO.
You see a painting in a gallery which inspires you. Later you reproduce a similar one to be used at home. Friends admire your talent, yet no one believes that you are another Salvador Dali. You don’t mention where you got the original idea. Is this plagiarism? NO.
Plagiarism is a term that is invented by Academics and Journalist. It doesn’t seem to apply to other people. Many people use this term out of its context. Every profession has technical words of their own, and sometimes people borrow them and use them inappropriately.
Do google the word “Plagiarism”. Read about it on Wiki. It is “academic dishonesty” and breach of “journalistic ethics”. It is “Intellectual Property” stealing. Sometimes, there are “copyright infringements” involved. This is what Plagiarism is.
I want to narrow my discussion to social media and blogging. I have seen that there are people on social media that are critic on others about their blogs, and accuse them of being Plagiarist. They even make accusations about the honesty of the owner of the blog. Think about it. Let’s not be jealous.
Social media is social media. The main objective is “getting attention”. Originality is not that much of a concern. People want to “show off” and share their feelings. They want to make others happy. No one expects that Social Media be an academic web site; no it is NOT.
People see a picture somewhere on a public domain web and share it. They hear a song somewhere on a public domain web and share it. They read an article somewhere on a public domain web and share it. When we see them, we'd better give our opinion on what is in front of us. Most of the times there is no need to go beyond that. If we like it then “like” it. If we don’t like it, then either pass or give a polite remark that gives our opinion on it. No need to be rude. If we see that the article is not original, trust me, other readers find it the same way too. No need to be the Smarty Ass. At most, we can mention it in our comment that we saw a similar thing somewhere else. The owner of the blog gets the hint. By being rude we are not solving a problem, we are making another one! Remember, there are usually no “Intellectual Property” violations on social media. Social media is “water under the bridge”.
Even if the original source is mentioned in the blog, what do we want to do with it as readers? Are we going to use it in our next blog or in our next research? Do we even bother to click the link and check? Are we on social media for this? Do we take social media that serious? NO.
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