Friday, March 11, 2011

Plagiarism in speeches

In 1858, Abraham Lincoln gave the "House Divided" speech, with the title coming directly out of the gospels of the New Testament. Lincoln did not attribute the Bible for the text.

In 2011, we have a copying charged leveled against one Rep. Richard Hanna, R-Barneveld, who used text, with permission, from Julian Sanchez, but Hanna did not give attribution.

The interesting thing about the criticism

It would be one thing if Sanchez was a speech writer on Hanna’s staff, or if Hanna put the verbatim portions he borrowed in quotation marks and credited Sanchez. But what Hanna did comes perilously close to plagiarism, which the dictionary defines as “taking the ideas, writings, etc., from another and passing them off as one’s own.”

Thus, the The Post-Standard Editorial Board appears to think plagiarism via ghost-writing is all right (true author unattributed but paid) but copying with permission but without attribution is not (true author unattributed but gives permission).

It's a strange, strange world we live in, Master Jack.

[As a side point, the permission aspect would negate copyright infringement, but does not negate plagiarism. Copyright infringement and plagiarism are not co-extensive.]


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