At this time, when almost everything could be easily seen and taken from the Internet, a simple act of “select, copy, and paste” can surely make lives easier.
But, in this process of “making lives easier,” some people can find themselves in serious trouble. Both local and international, accusations of plagiarism and fraud continue to rock the very core of ethical standards which known personalities are expected to adhere to.
Take the case of Jonah Lehrer and Fareed Zakaria. Who would have thought that these high-profile men—Lehrer, a valued reporter of The New Yorker and Zakaria, a TIME columnist and New York Times best-selling author—would be under fire for plagiarism and fraud? However, they were both “cleared”—so to speak.
Here in the Philippines, take the case of three respected personalities: businessman Manny Pangilinan, Senator Vicente Sotto III, and Senator Pia Cayetano. They have all been in the headlines for alleged plagiarism. While they were accused of the same “crime,” they responded differently.
In the case of Pangilinan, who was accused of plagiarizing the graduation speech he delivered in Ateneo De Manila University (ADMU) in 2010, this act cost him an untimely resignation as ADMU’s chairman of the board. He, however, took the liberty to resign because he might have felt that he embarrassed the very institution he leads. He immediately took responsibility for his speechwriter’s act of “copy-and-paste”—an act which can be attributed to a responsible leader.
Sotto’s plagiarized speech on Reproductive Health Bill, on the other hand, cost him the trust, confidence, and the vote of the people in general and netizens in particular. However, to satisfy his “manly and honorable image” he firmly defended himself without thinking that such defense is a form of suicide. Instead of taking responsibility, he asked “why should I quote a mere blogger?”
Cayetano’s approach, perhaps because of her profession as a lawyer, is probably the act expected of a reputable elected official when she tweeted, “Citing authors and sources is part of the writing process. I am happy to do (this) because it shows the depth of research done.” She went on by saying, “If at any time, I fail to attribute, I immediately make the necessary corrections and amends.”
The sad reality now is that “copy-and-paste” is now becoming a norm not only in the business, professional, or political landscapes but also in schools—among students. Thinking that they’re professors don’t have sufficient Internet knowledge, they commit plagiarism and get away with it unscratched.
While it may seem easy to just get away with copying and pasting, it doesn’t mean that one can get away with it forever. While mastering the art of “copy-and-paste” may give a person an instant satisfying result, it might also result to more complicated setbacks in the long term. How? By ruining one’s reputation, job, or business aside from making the plagiarist look lazy, ignorant, and simply, stupid.
Sure, most students may have a fair share of a little cheating here and there when they’re still in school but they should not take this practice with them after graduating.
There’s a reason why computers have such a useful function as CTRL+A to select all, CTRL+C to copy and CTRL+P to paste. But surely, these are not designed to lift one’s work without due permission or attribution or a license to steal one’s intellectual property.
Ultimately, this technological wonder doesn’t permit anyone to plagiarize.