Plagiarism-the height of intellectual bankruptcy!

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By: Saima Jammal

Plagiarism- the act of marking someone else’s work/ideas/writings as one’s own and passing them off, too. In plagiarism, one’s original ideas/work is passed off by somebody else without authorization while the original is subsided.

Recently an organization, of which I am a member, in collaboration with one of the valley’s renowned publishing house was supposed to submit literary entries, in short story and poetic genre, to the official blog of the publishing house. We had an entry in the short story genre, titled as “The view from the room”. It came to our notice that the title was revamped but the content was sheer plagiarism of a well-known Canadian writer, Robin Sharma’s original story. What was more shocking is the fact that the plagiarist is a columnist who writes for a very popular newspaper of the valley.

The ignominy of this act triggered me to write to the plagiarist, and l wrote to him, “…if you can’t do justice with others, do it with yourself, your pen, at least” after which a reply flashed on my mobile screen- “…there may be a tinge of imitation”. I couldn’t believe that the person was trying to cover-up this disgrace by playing with words. I had to write to him about the difference between imitation and Plagiarism.

Plagiarism is totally unacceptable to every honest penholder. Plagiarists are rapists who rape the intellectual morality of commendable literary figures. It is disgracing for the plagiarist and disheartening for the original potential document. Scholarly researches have put forth plagiarism as “Theft of intellectual property”. It is not only an ethical offence but also an academic crime. Mostly regarded as misdemeanor, plagiarism is punishable by fines; anywhere from ₹ 100 to₹50,000, and up to one year in jail. It is regarded as a felony under certain state and federal laws.

The most prevalent types of plagiarism are:

1) Direct plagiarism: It is word-for-word transcription. And it is for a particular section of somebody’s original work. Here, attribution and quotation marks are not followed.

2) Self-plagiarism: Usage of one’s own previous work in some other context, without citing that it was used earlier.

3) Mosaic plagiarism: It is the usage of synonyms for the actual work, where meaning remains unaltered.

4) Accidental plagiarism: It is unintentional paraphrase or misquote.

As per the Britannica definition of plagiarism, it is an act of forgery, piracy and fraud and is stated to be a serious crime in academia. It is also a violation of copyright laws. Whenever you counter such misdemeanor or unethical conduct, file charges against civil wrong. Plagiarism is more civil wrong, and practicing civil wrong over and again, automatically becomes a crime. Although, in India plagiarism is not regarded as a crime in general, but if plagiarism infringes an author’s intellectual property rights, including trademark or copyright; than the act becomes criminal and can attract legal action.

In countries like US, colleges, universities and other such professional institutions are, with certain authority, equipped to punish plagiarists in numerous ways, like expulsion from college/ university, suspension, revoking the degree earned in the past. The laws that are framed to deal with such a scenario include Copyright Law, SOPA (Stop online piracy act).

In India, Section 57 of the Indian Copyright Act, 1957 grants to the authors the “Special right “to be attributed for their work. It is a moral and a perpetual right in nature. That statute recognizes the right to attribution analogous to the rights not to be plagiarized”. Section 63 of the same act considers infringement as a criminal offence.

Plagiarism, we all know and understand, merits only disgrace and is a criminal offence. Why would anyone willfully and deliberately conceal the author’s name and invite disgrace and shame by plagiarizing someone elses work?

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