There was a recent story in The Guardian about Quentin Tarantino’s girlfriend, Lianne MacDougall, who writes for the website fearnet.com under the name Lianne Spiderbaby. She was accused of copying material from several other online writers in her articles. The website has since removed all of the reviews she has written for the website dedicated to horror films.
The story reminded me of another recent blog post that I had read. Kristine Brite McCormick, a blogger on corasstory.com posted an article recently titled “Are we living in the plagiarism age?” As she explains, the American Heart Association, without her consent and without giving her credit, used material that she wrote for an article on her blog. She writes about her astonishment that many people felt she should be flattered that renowned organization such as the American Heart Association would use her material. Not only was she not flattered, she writes about how upset it made her to see how commonplace plagiarism is in the blogosphere. She writes, “we’re living in the plagiarism age, and I don’t like it. It’s going to take all of us to change it. Taking content is not okay. It is theft.”
She is right about it being theft. It is not only in the fields of academia, journalism, and literature that using another person’s material without proper citation is plagiarism. It happens in the fields of film, art, fashion, and even in the blogosphere. But, I question whether or not we are living in the plagiarism age, as Ms. Brite McCormick posits. Plagiarism has always existed, but the Internet allows us to catch plagiarists quicker and easier than ever before. Anyone can set up a personal blog with relative ease, and this may make the sheer amount of published work more extensive than it has ever been. However, the temptation to copy another blogger’s work is too overwhelming for some. It is important for bloggers to remember that even on a personal blog the articles are published material, and sources must credited. Copying from another person’s blog is plagiarizing, and eventually, you will probably be caught if you plagiarize on your blog. Just as you would in any other form of writing, you must credit your sources. You may choose to name the source and insert a link within the article or to have a more formal bibliography at the end of the article. It is certainly acceptable to use other bloggers’ writing as inspiration to build upon, but as always, think of the long-term, detrimental consequences of plagiarism.