The Internet is a valuable tool. Not only does it allow us to communicate with others across the globe, study and shop from the comfort of home and find information on just about any topic under the sun, the rapid advances in technology are not without risk. Besides cyberbullying, identity theft and malicious viruses, today's technology makes it quite simple to "steal" people's work.
Feb. 19 is Prevent Plagiarism Day, an annual observance that raises awareness about "high-tech cheating." The Oxford Dictionary defines plagiarism as "the practice of taking someone else’s work or ideas and passing them off as one’s own."
Prevent Plagiarism Day
Freelance writer and newspaper columnist, Jace Shoemaker-Galloway, created the annual event after discovering repeated instances of "writers" publishing her work without permission or attribution. After asking one "writer" to remove her articles, to no avail, Shoemaker-Galloway submitted Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) Takedown Notices and the articles were eventually removed by the webhosting company.
What's in a word? Plenty! While copying and pasting are simple to do, copyright infringement can result in serious consequences.
- Students who are caught plagiarizing may fail a test or assignment, entire course, be suspended or expelled from school.
- Both Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Rand Paul have found themselves in hot water for plagiarizing. In 1987, then Senator Biden admitted to plagiarizing a law review article in law school.
- Serial plagiarist Rand Paul was accused of plagiarizing - in speeches and in a book. Paul blamed his staff for not "properly footnoting" his background materials and for being a target of haters.
- Friday Night Lights creator, Peter Berg, accused presidential candidate Mitt Romney of plagiarism for using a phrase from the popular television series during his campaign.
- Actor Shia LaBeouf has reportedly retired from public life after he allegedly plagiarized his "apology for plagiarism."
Prevent Plagiarism Day shines the spotlight on letter lifters, word thieves and copyright copycats who steal people's work without permission and use it as their own. While it may seem like an impossible feat, there are steps you can take if your work has been "borrowed."
In honor of Prevent Plagiarism Day, change your Facebook and/or Twitter profile picture to the Prevent Plagiarism Day logo. Together, we can stomp out plagiarism.
Plagiarism Tools & Resources
- Northwestern University: How to Avoid Plagiarism
- What is Plagiarism? - An explanation for kids
- What is DMCA? - In 1998, President Bill Clinton signed the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) into law. With proper notice, Internet Service Providers must remove material that constitutes copyright infringement.
- Google Transparency Report
- Twitter Transparency Report
- Facebook Intellectual Property information
- Whois - Webhosting company info
- Sample DMCA Takedown Notice
- Free Plagiarism Checker