Monday, October 31, 2011

"Something Borrowed"

In the essay "Something Borrowed" by Malcolm Gladwell he looks into plagiarism and explains that plagiarism is when you steal ideas and words from other people, but that the more important thing is how much of their work you copied and why you copied it. He starts off by describing the story of Dorothy Lewis who felt like she had been robbed. She accused the writer of "Frozen" of plagiarizing many words and ideas from her book and her life. He learned that the writer of the play claims that she wrote the play incorporating ideas from many different sources, including the news, and did not realize that what she was doing was wrong. He also talks about how there is a fine line for plagiarism when it comes to music. Gladwell gives examples of many songs which have the same hook or series of notes. It is hard to say that one person owns the right to a series of notes or a certain sound. Plagiarism is such a hard thing to define and punish people for because there are so many people on this earth that it is hard to say that one person owns the right to a set or words or ideas. It is hard to know who actually thought of the idea first and who it belongs to.

I enjoyed reading this article because it gave me a lot of insight into just how complicated the whole topic of plagiarism can be. I used to think that plagiarism was simple and easy to define and punish but after reading this I realized that sometimes that line can be much more difficult to distinguish. I thought that the examples about the songs were particularly interesting. I agree with Gladwell in that plagiarism can be taken as a compliment but that it does get annoying. If people copy your work, it shows that you did something right and that other people enjoy what you have done. But at the same time, people shouldn't be able to act like something is theirs when another person worked so hard to create it. I got confused at times because I wasn't sure who he was talking about or who was copy who.

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