Plagiarism is bad and the word 'a plagiarist' is almost a curse. We know it from childhood. And yet, few of the great creators in various fields from science to music in their life avoided accusations of plagiarism. Let’s take a look at the different aspects of this phenomenon and consider: is it allowed to borrow someone's ideas?
Is it a stealing or the engine of progress?
The negative meaning of plagiarism is laid down in the word and it can be translated as 'stealing'. It is too bad when a person appropriates somebody’s ideas, discoveries or works and then he or she will get all laurels for it! Though, plagiarism was not always so strongly condemned by contemporaries. Ancient scientists and writers used works of the predecessors with pleasure, they considered that they multiplied and kept knowledge, in such way.
This concept has a quite indistinct framework even today. On the one hand, you take somebody's work and to call it as yours, it is considered like a mere stealing. On the other hand, you process and develop somebody's works and ideas. In many cases, such kind of 'plagiarism' is the engine of progress and will lead to great discoveries and inventions. Was Amerigo Vespucci a plagiarist or a successor of the successful ideas of Columbus? In a fact, in his honour, but not after an uneasy discoverer, two continents were named.
It is quite necessary for science if somebody’s ideas are borrowed and superseded. Scientific discoveries are too long and complex a process to fit it into a single human life. It is necessary to use the works of predecessors for scientific progress and development. But, not all scientists do it properly. Even the great Einstein did not escape accusations of plagiarism.
Among the famous writers, almost everyone was called a plagiarist, at least once. Ideas of the majority of great works were born from earlier books, national legends, newspaper articles and even ordinary jokes. Therefore, it is said that a plot borrowing is not considered like plagiarism, because almost all literary works could be blamed for it. Voltaire, Goethe, Rousseau, Alexandre Dumas, père, Jack London, Herbert Welsh and many others were accused of plagiarism. By the way, the writers often do not object to these charges. 'I take my goodness wherever I can find,' said Moliere, for example. W. Shakespeare was even more categorical in his expressions. 'This is the girl that I found in the mud and brought to crème de la crème,' said he about the whole borrowed scene. So, a partial plagiarism has long been turned into a form of literary art in a real life.
Plagiarism prospers in business too. And it is strangely enough good for consumers. If each invention or newness is realized by only one company which thought it up, we would be caught by a net of monopolies. Manufacturers will not have competitors in their segments, and therefore they will not care about the quality of the goods and they will not try to reduce prices too. If competing companies constantly produce similar products, they will fight each other for the attention and loyalty of the buyer in this situation.
Not all 'idea-generators' are capable to implement them. So, for the future it is very useful if their ideas would be taken by others.
Let’s remember A. Pushkin who suggested to Gogol a plot of his well-known 'The Inspector General'. He even did not spare the given away idea, but he also insisted that Gogol did not stop to work with it. A. Pushkin was not sorry, because he had millions of these ideas! A life is not enough to realize all of them.
We often do not think about how much familiar from childhood discoveries and works have under themselves even partial plagiarism. There are some examples of them.
The article of James Watson and Francis Crick was published in the journal Nature on May 30, 1953, 61 years ago. They proposed a structural model of DNA like the double helix in this article. This discovery made them famous and then they were awarded by the Nobel Prize for it. Almost nobody remembered about the important human in these researches like 'unknown lady of DNA' Rosalind Franklin in that time, in the middle of the last century.
Exactly Franklin took X-ray sciagram of DNA fibres, and suggested that it had the shape of a double helix. She wrote several papers on this subject, but no one has been published. Her scientific suggestions had not been taken seriously. The relationship between this woman and her colleagues was not established and it was decided to split the research group. As a result, Watson and Crick had got all success, however they recognized this scientist's contribution to this discovery very reluctantly. Franklin did not live up awarding the Nobel Prize, she died of cancer. And, according to the rules, the prize is not awarded posthumously.
Theory of relativity
The great Einstein did not escape the charges of plagiarism. In a fact, he largely based the General theory of relativity, on the earlier works of Lawrence and Poincare. Einstein did not incidentally mention the last men in his work.
Certainly, it does not belittle the merit of genius of theoretical physics. This example shows that few can boast an absolute innovation in a science only.
The striking example of shameless plagiarism is a name of the band Metallica. One of the friends of Lars Ulrich, Ron Quintana asked him to help choose a name for the new magazine of the American and British metal bands. There were such variants as: Metallica, Metal Mania and Hesse. Ulrich, looking at his friend with honest eyes, told him that Metallica had been the worst option. And as a result, he took the name for his band.
Read also Top 10 Facts About Plagiarism