Friday, June 7, 2013

History of Plagiarism

From the website The Hot Word:
The Roman poet Martial who lived in the first century AD had a problem: without the protection of copyright laws, he couldn't stop the other poets of his day from circulating his poems as their own. His only recourse was to write witty verses admonishing and mocking the thieves. Of one rival he wrote, "The book you're reciting, Fidentinus, is mine; but when you recite it badly it begins to be yours." He used the Latin word plagiarius - which until then meant kidnapping - and gave it a new twist so that it was understood as literary theft.
What a thought! A desire to claim one's words and to keep them out of the mouths and pens of others recorded in the first century AD! I love that the term itself originally meant kidnapping. Plagiarism: the kidnapping of someone else's words ~ abducting them and passing them off as one's own. Quite a unique way to get the point across. 

In our day and age, the term plagiarism is thrown around a lot. The internet provides an incredible resource to find what others have written.... and copy it. Or credit it to another. I wonder how much of what's written today, including my very post here, is truly original? And if something is accidentally 'kidnapped,' does that still constitute plagiarism?

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