1. What is plagiarism?
Plagiarism, as defined in the 1995 Random House Compact Unabridged Dictionary, is the "use or close imitation of the work or of thoughts of another author and the representation of them as one's own original work."

According to the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, to "plagiarize" means
    •   to steal and pass off (the ideas or works of another) as one's own
    •   to use (another's production) without crediting the source
    •   to commit intellectual theft
    •   to present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source.

Plagiarism involves both stealing someone else's work and lying about it afterward, thus plagiarism is an act of fraud and treated as such by the law. The expression of original ideas is considered intellectual property, and is protected by copyright laws. Almost all forms of expression fall under copyright protection as long as they are recorded in some way.

2. What is the difference between an original and plagiarism?
The only difference between an original and plagiarism is the attribution of authorship.

3. Are there different types of plagiarism?
So far, four different types of plagiarism can be distinguished:
    •   Total plagiarism, when a complete work of art is adopted without any changes being made
    •   Partial plagiarism, when parts of another artwork are integrated in a new work
    •   Plagiarism of ideas, when only ideas and concepts are adopted without giving credit to the author
    •   Self-plagiarism, when significant, identical, or nearly identical portions of one's own work are reused without acknowledging that one is doing so or without citing the original work.

4. Where does plagiarism occur?
Basically, plagiarism can occur anywhere and at any time, particularly when somebody is creating something, be it a text, a visual artwork, a piece of music or software. Everyone is a potential plagiarist! In that sense, it is DEJAVU®'s mission to educate creators - not to surveil and control them.

5. What does plagiarism have to do with kidnapping?
The term plagiarism is derived from the Latin expression plagium which means child abduction or the stealing of slaves. It was the Roman poet Martial who first used this term in a metaphorical sense, when his rival poet Fidentinus mixed his own verses with of Martial's and circulated them as his own. In the same way as children and slaves were considered as property in ancient Rome, from then on intellectual products were also considered as property. However, it is questionable whether this metaphor is still makes sense today.

6. Why is plagiarism dangerous?
There are many dangers involved in plagiarism. First of all, plagiarism undermines professional artistic trust. Once an artist has damaged his reputation because of cheating, it will be hard for him to recover; his fellow artists, curators, critics and collectors will no longer believe in his artistic integrity. If an artist is able to get away with taking somebody else's work once, he might get used to it and thus - slowly but surely - lose his own ability for original creation. Other dangers involve the incorrect writing of art history, when plagiarism in the arts is not detected and artworks are mistakenly not ascribed to the wrong artist.

7. Is there a way to prevent plagiarism?
The first step is to find out everything about plagiarism, what it is and what it is not. If you are not sure whether your new work is plagiarized or not, to be on the safe side mention all the references and cite all sources you have used creating a new work. If you are not sure about your references, the only option you have is to use the services of plagiarism detection software, such as DEJAVU®. That is the only way to produce evidence and thus help avoiding plagiarism.

8. What does it mean to plagiarize oneself?
Self-plagiarism is a known subcategory of plagiarism; it basically means that an artist is producing or publishing the same work again he has already produced or published earlier, pretending it is novel. Reasons for such incomprehensible behavior may simply be that the artist has run out of original ideas and lost his potential for creative work. He might think that stealing his own ideas might be less reprehensible than stealing those of others, but the opposite is true. In such case, a change of profession should be seriously considered.

9. Could plagiarism also have positive aspects?
Some people may say so. One of the most frequently used arguments is that plagiarism saves time and effort, that it improves results, and that it purportedly shows considerable initiative on the part of the individual plagiarist. A few artists try to make a difference between stealing and copying or imitating ("Steal from everyone and copy no one", Charles Movalli), or stealing and borrowing ("Good artists borrow. Great artists steal", Pablo Picasso); some even try to pass it off as a special gift ("Plagiarism is the privilege of the appreciative man", Oscar Wilde), while others even try to explain it as something particularly attendant to the creative mind of artists: "Appropriation is for artists only, apparently; everyone else has to come up with their own ideas." (Tad Simons). The majority of creators, however, does not share this kind of perspectives and regards them as grievous attempts to demolish serious culture.

10. Is there reason to panic?
Statistics about the pervasiveness of plagiarism have actually produced evidence of a significant rise in the number of recorded incidents. The reason for this epidemic problem is the Internet itself. The easy-to-use technology to copy and paste information makes it tempting for artists to avail themselves. Although, generally, it is better not to fuel fears, the moral outrage that has been sparked by plagiarism is justified. Panic, however, should be avoided, as it may reduce mindfulness and lead to undeliberated measures and, at the worst, even may endanger the security and the life of the one panicking.

11. Does intention matter?
Not knowing the law or ignoring it is not an excuse. So even if you did not realize you were plagiarizing, you may still be found guilty. However, there are different punishments for willful infringement or deliberate plagiarism, innocent infringement or accidental plagiarism. To distinguish between these, courts recognize what is called the good faith defense.

12. "What if I can't remember?" - Cryptomnesia
This question is very near to the one preceding (#11). Actually, inadvertent plagiarism has even been scientifically investigated and is called cryptomnesia. Researchers describe cryptomnesia as a memory bias whereby a person falsely recalls generating a thought, an idea, an artwork, when the thought was actually generated by someone else. In these cases, the artist is not deliberately engaging in plagiarism, but is rather experiencing a memory as if it were a new inspiration. The two different kinds of cryptomnesia are firstly a kind of sleeper effect, whereby old ideas come to feel new, and secondly, when the ideas of others are remembered as one's own. In this case, the plagiarizer correctly recognizes that the idea is from an earlier time, but falsely remembers having been the originator of the idea. Various terms have been coined to distinguish these two forms of plagiarism - occurrence forgetting vs. source forgetting, and generation errors vs. recognition errors. The two types of cryptomnesia appear to be independent: no relationship has been found between error rates and the two types are precipitated by different causes.

13. Is there a difference between plagiarism and playgiarism?
Nice one! The author of the term playgiarism is Ramond Federman. According to Federman there is a huge difference between the two terms and what they stand for, but his explanations are not very precise and fail to exactly define what he means by the term playgiarism. In any case, he considers playgiarism to be something morally good while he condemns plagiarism.

"I cannot explain how Playgiarism works. You do it or you don't. You're born a Playgiarizer or you're not. It's as simple as that. The laws of Playgiarism are unwritten. Like incest, it's a taboo. It cannot be authenticated. The great Playgiarizers of all time -- Homer, Shakespeare, Rabelais, Diderot, Rimbaud, Lautréamont, Proust, Beckett, Federman -- have never pretended to do anything else. Inferior writers deny that they playgiarize because they confuse Plagiarism with Playgiarism. It's not the same. The difference is enormous, but no one has yet been able to explain it. Playgiarism cannot be measured in weight or size. It is as elusive as what it playgiarizes. Plagiarism is sad. It whines. It cries. It feels sorry for itself. It apologizes. It feels guilty. It hides behind itself. Playgiarism on the contrary laughs all the time. It exposes itself. It is proud. It makes fun of what it does while doing it. It denounces itself. That does not mean that Playgiarism is self-reflexive. How could it be? How can something reflect itself when that self has, so to speak, no self, but only a borrowed self. A displaced self. If this is getting too complicated, too intellectual, too abstract, then let me put it in simpler terms -- on the Walt Disney mental level: Playgiarism is above all a game whose only rule is the game itself. The French would call that Plajeu."


14. Are plagiarism and fake the same thing?
Definitely not! One could even say they are opposites. While a plagiarist claims authorship over a work that not he but somebody else made, a person who creates a fake or an art forgery actually makes the work himself and declares it as somebody else's. And there can never be an act of forgery without intent.

15. Is there a gender aspect involved in plagiarism?
Declaring the act of copying as a typical aspect of the female principle has a long-standing tradition (Friedländer, 1929; Schüller, 1953). According to such theories, "the business of copying requires female devotion, the willingness to make sacrifices, patience and furtive alertness." While those considerations may be based on romantic models of authorship that ascribe originality to the male genius, they tend to neglect that strategies as copying etc necessarily involve a great deal of originality. For instance, artists like Sherrie Levine or Elaine Sturtevant challenge ideas of originality by only repeating already existing works, at the same time, their work is based on highly original concepts, which draw attention to relations between power, gender and creativity and in that sense actually may suggest a gender-specificity of plagiarist tendencies. It is to state, however, that the author/creator as well as the plagiarist are phallic figures in an oedipal link - Zeus as the author and Prometheus, who steals the fire, as his antagonist. In this gender logic, women would fully be excluded from creation and its appropriation. They neither qualify as authors, nor as plagiarists.

A project by © TPPSTDNK. The poor plagiarised souls that did not know

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