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There are a few Tumblr users making a fuss about the "my thoughts are stars I can't fathom into constellations" quote being plagerised from Elias Canetti. Did you? Copyright laws confuse me.
I have never read Elias Canetti, but after some googling, it seems like the Canetti quote is, “His head is made of stars, but not yet arranged into constellations.” (This is presumably a translation from German, so I can’t speak to the exact quote.)
That’s a great line, but it’s about something entirely different. I assume it’s about the intellectual experience of adolescence, whereas Augustus’s line in The Fault in Our Stars is about illness and fatigue and not being able to express himself as clearly as he wants to.
Neither Elias Canetti nor myself thought up the idea that constellations are a way of constructing meaning and organization from a disorganized and arbitrary universe. I’m sure neither of us is the first to use that idea in fiction, either. Anyone who claims their fiction is wholly original is lying, but this is not plagiarism. It’s two similar-but-not-at-all-identical things arising independently, as happens all the time in writing (and elsewhere).
For example: another line from the The Fault in Our Stars is, “I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, then all at once.” This is similar to a line from The Sun Also Rises in which a character is asked how he went bankrupt and answers, “Two ways: Gradually and then suddenly.” This line I actually have read and was conscious of when I wrote the line in TFiOS, but it still isn’t plagiarism. Nor is it plagiarism when I wrote “So it goes” in TFiOS even though Slaughterhouse Five made that sentence famous.
Calling a writer a plagiarist is a very serious accusation, so I want to be very clear: I have never plagiarized.
On October 3rd, I made this post after being told that I should be nice to sexist male feminists just because they call themselves feminists.
On October 7th, Kelley Temple makes this tweet, without any credit to me, and then continues to have conversations with people who are praising her over it.
I’d really appreciate it if people could reblog this around a bit. At first I’d assumed it was some weird misunderstanding and I was willing to let it slide, but Kelley Temple is right there, plagiarizing me, not giving a shit. And people are spreading it around on tumblr, not giving a shit. So if you could reblog this and maybe let people know if you see the plagiarism come across your dash, I’d be super grateful.
Thanks so much to everyone who reblogged this! Seriously, the response I’ve gotten is mindblowing and very sweet and very touching. Kelley Temple sent me a very nice reply explaining that it was completely inadvertent and she’d heard it from someone else entirely.
All the nice asks and everything I’ve gotten from people have really made my day, thank you all so much.
THIS JUST IN: GLEE IS SHIT, RIPS OFF JONATHAN COULTON
Glee recently covered Baby Got Back (AKA the “I like big butts and I cannot lie” song), a song that famous geek songwriter Jonathan Coulton did an acoustic guitar cover of many years back, and instead of coming up with their own arrangement they just straight up wholesale copied Coulton’s version of the song (Coulton himself is saying that they might even have used some of his audio)
For comparison, here is a stereo track with Jonathan Coulton’s cover in one ear and the Glee version in the other
EDIT: Some people have expressed doubt that this is actually a Glee track, since the episode hasn’t aired yet and whatnot. The answer to that is, it most definitely is a Glee track because it’s for sale on the Swedish iTunes store right now, attributed to the Glee cast and copyrighted to Fox and all
Classmate: “I think you tried a little to hard on your presentation. That was to much talking.”
Me: “What do you mean? It’s a college course and we followed her guidelines. We talked for 25 minutes out of the recommended 20 for 4 people.”
Classmate: “Yeah, but still… that was just a little to much.”
Me: “What? The required amount of work to have a passing grade in this class?”
Classmate: “You just didn’t need to try that hard.”
Me: “I didn’t.”
Classmate: “Well I think you did.”
Me: “That’s probably why your not passing then.”
That’s right asshole. Don’t fucking argue with me. Just because a majority of this class can’t make a decent powerpoint past the 8th grade level does not mean you have to tell me off when you know there was nothing wrong with my presentation. Get your facts straight before confronting me dumb ass.
To top it off a girl took what I wrote to her, word for word and quoted it as a fact to the class. She never sited me in her paper either. Only 3 out of the 4 of us did our work. What the hell. Now that’s plagiarism to the extreme.
Now on to my text topic:
Tim Burton or John Hughes?
WHAT IS PLAGIARISM?
Many people think of plagiarism as copying another’s work or borrowing someone else’s original ideas. But terms like “copying” and “borrowing” can disguise the seriousness of the offense:
ACCORDING TO THE MERRIAM-WEBSTER ONLINE DICTIONARY, TO “PLAGIARIZE” MEANS:
- to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one’s own
- to use (another’s production) without crediting the source
- to commit literary theft
- to present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source
In other words, plagiarism is an act of fraud. It involves both stealing someone else’s work and lying about it afterward.
BUT CAN WORDS AND IDEAS REALLY BE STOLEN?
According to U.S. law, the answer is yes. The expression of original ideas is considered intellectual property and is protected by copyright laws, just like original inventions. Almost all forms of expression fall under copyright protection as long as they are recorded in some way (such as a book or a computer file).
ALL OF THE FOLLOWING ARE CONSIDERED PLAGIARISM:
- turning in someone else’s work as your own
- copying words or ideas from someone else without giving credit
- failing to put a quotation in quotation marks
- giving incorrect information about the source of a quotation
- changing words but copying the sentence structure of a source without giving credit
- copying so many words or ideas from a source that it makes up the majority of your work, whether you give credit or not (see our section on “fair use” rules)
Most cases of plagiarism can be avoided, however, by citing sources. Simply acknowledging that certain material has been borrowed and providing your audience with the information necessary to find that source is usually enough to prevent plagiarism.