Saturday, October 18, 2008

Ode to Plagiarism

This is a fable my paati told me when I was a kid: “Once upon a time, there was a fox which was roaming in the forests. It was pitch dark in the open, and the fox fell into a pool of indigo dye. This changed the color of the fox and it did not know of it. The other animals in the forest were afraid, they ran away at the very sight of the fox. The fox loved this new found fame. It declared itself different from the rest, it claimed to be powerful. All the animals in the forest revered the fox. One night it started raining heavily. The fox got wet in its new found happiness. Little did it realize that it was its doomsday? When it dawned the next day, the fox was back to its original colour. The fame was lost. All the animals go like “neela sayaam veluthu pochu dum dum dum dum. Raja vesham kalanju pochu dum dum dum dum” “Translated as “The blue color has vanished, and the true color is out”

The essence of this was, be yourself, a simple message in a fable. When you try to pass off as somebody else, you are actually cheating yourself and the fake attitude will come to light someday just like in the fox’s case.

Another story to make it more “interesting”: X was copying something from Y. X copied everything written by Y. Finally when he finished copying, he found out that Y had a fly squatted, at the end of the page. In order to make it look “authentic”, X did the same. We call it “ee-adichan copy” in Tamil.

Most of us do this and it’s called plagiarism. We don’t claim to be somebody else; we claim of something that is rightfully not “ours” as our own.

“Plagiarism is the unauthorized use or close imitation of the language and thoughts of another author and the representation of them as one's own original work.” Source Wikipedia

Plagiarism in layman terms can be called copying or lifting. Copying is an ambiguous term, so lets put it this way; you copy an answer in the exam, which is plagiarism and you copy-pasting an article or a program from the internet is plagiarism again. Only the magnitude of copying varies.
In simpler terms we can term it as claiming somebody else’s work to be yours. Most of us have been there done that. All through college, we’ve done this for every assignment and project we had to submit. We copied or lifted articles at college level, maybe because we were asked to submit an assignment on a certain topic, nobody really talked about originality, and so nobody cared to write on their own. We the student folks can relate to this better than anybody else.

It’s not the right thing to do, and all of us know it. Teachers ask us to mention sources, and most of us don’t really care about it. And hence the bibliography page of any review or project was left empty, in most cases. Copying at college level may not look like a horrendous crime, because you know for a fact that the papers you submitted isn’t going to go anywhere beyond the college dustbin.

When you submit an assignment, you don’t ask “what’s in it?” you ask “where did you copy it from”, and we’re proud of it. Copying something worth reading from the internet was and is still something you are proud of. It’s easier to pass off somebody’s work as yours than do something on your own. It requires less brains and lesser hard work. It’s the easiest thing that you can ever do.

There really is no point in a claim to fame of that sort, your true colours will come to light someday or the other like the story of the fox which lost its blue colour when it rained.

Plagiarism is rampant everywhere. From the assignment you submitted to the scientific publications. Story writing to music direction. What is yours once it goes on the internet can easily become someone else’s. All of us are aware of the fact, that Himesh Reshamaiya lifts his tunes from Korean albums, and claims to be his own. Even well known directors down south do it for instant fame. We know it, and we accept it. Nobody revolts against it, leave revolting, nobody even questions the authenticity. We take it in our stride.

Take the case of a famous music director down-south, who is hailed as the next best thing that happened to the Tamil Film industry. A friend of mine, asked me to check out the videos in her profile. What I saw was SHOCKING! My first reaction was, how can somebody be so cheap? You claim that he is the best, and he happily lifts tunes from lesser known, in some-cases really well known albums, and we the audience lap it up, and don’t give a damn about it. This is the kind of apathy we have towards another person’s art. This is just one example, there might be lots more which you and me aren’t aware of. Plagiarism in the modern day life is put across the table in this sugar-coated word called “inspiration”.

Film-makers get inspired by movies made in the west, some modify It and some remake it, to suit the local taste.(yeah right!). Same applies to the student community; we get inspired by the article written by somebody else. My question here is, when you get inspired, you take the essence of it and build your idea based on it. You don’t literally copy it word by word and say “it’s mine!” Some people make it look better by adding on their own stuff to it, which is a couple of sentences at the max. Call it value-added service!

What do you get out of mindless copying? What kind of a satisfaction do you get out doing something as cheap as this? I am not trying to say, I’ve not lifted a thing, yes I have, and I mention the source at the end of it. Maybe that’s why my assignments fetched me more marks than my answer scripts!

Now I’ll show you plagiarized, I am sorry, inspiring stuff..
1) June Ponal- Inspired from All-Rise by Blue

2) Music Director’s Muse

3) The shot in the arm- Krish has performed a karaoke on this

Cheers :)


Vedha said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Vedha said...

aah.. dasavatharam copy is the ultimate comedy...

sowmi said...'ve done good job by giving those copy cats link n all........... pls open the eyes of ppl by posting such blogs......