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Plagiarism is a form of academic cheating that result when an individual uses someone else’s work as either his or her own work without authorization. This practice is highly discouraged in academic and other forms of writing, and is regarded as literary decadence. In addition, the indiscriminate borrowing or copying of an artist’s or a sculptor’s work is also categorized as plagiarism. The term plagiarism was first used in the European continent. The capitalist nature of development and industrialization brought about the need to protect personal possessions. Plagiarism has survived centuries and is evident in today’s society. It is difficult to measure the level of infringement on someone’s work since there are no set standards that define the boundaries of a particular person’s work (Boyle, 2008). The lack of apparent definition of original work especially in the field of academic writing adversely affects the efforts of combating the plagiarism. However, the referring to written research reports, academic work and documented inventions is to some extent necessary to realize economic, academic and infrastructural development. In today’s world, the application of documented work for development purposes is not regarded as plagiarism. The negative approach towards plagiarism is largely fuelled by the increasing desire by individuals to retain claim to authentic work that may later turn out to be valuable in monetary and historical perspectives.
Originality is regarded as morally upright and prudent. Generally, the law does not contain any provisions that can sufficiently protect authentic work from imposters and fraudsters. However, a certain level of freedom is necessary to allow referencing in academic and research undertakings. A set of well-defined instructions regarding the referencing process can significantly help in maintaining a healthy ethical standing on plagiarism. Often, plagiarism is regarded as a breach of moral guidelines of using documented work rather than a criminal offence. According to some law experts, plagiarism may not be necessarily ill intended, but may be an attempt to improve on the original documentation (Buranen & Roy, 1999). To avoid plagiarism, a writer should cite and reference the original source of the ideas or information that he or she used in any writing exercise. This procedure allows giving credit to the person who first developed an idea. Some people may revisit their previous work for reference while developing new work. For ethical justification, and to avoid plagiarism, the concerned writer is required to attribute the obtained idea to the previous work. Unfortunately, there are no definite laws meant to curb plagiarism and the method of referencing solely depends on the writer (Buranen & Roy, 1999). Software developers have also been victims of plagiarism. However, most of these cases cannot be verified since software development is regarded as general knowledge and that the basic structure of most of softwares is inevitably similar.
In learning institutions, any kind of plagiarism is regarded as a violation of the academic standards and regulations. A student caught with plagiarism could be subjected to a disciplinary action, which may include cancellation of the said work or expulsion of the culprit from the institution. This approach is favorable with institutions in order to encourage research and facilitate fair and accurate grading of scholars. Furthermore, an institution that tolerates cases of plagiarism may tarnish its reputation and credibility. Institutions with rampant plagiarism-related cases are associated with low quality education. Plagiarism discredits the noble regard for any academic discipline (Decoo, 2002). Any reputable personality may have his public image impaired if claims of plagiarism are associated with his work. Consequently, people tend to doubt the person’s honesty and creativity (Netanel, 2008). The duplication of an artist’s work for financial gain without due consent is criminalized by constitutional laws around the world. A conviction on such practices is punishable in many countries where plagiarism is illegitimate. Several individuals and organizations have faced legal battles after being accused of plagiarism. Legal indictment is common where the plagiarism offence involves financial gain or where the reputation of the original source is significantly affected. Rampant plagiarism cases have led to the establishment of international laws, which protect the source of original work. International patent office and copyright laws are examples of efforts meant to curb plagiarism.
There are numerous examples of plagiarism-related cases in modern history, which have led to controversies and heated moral debates. In the twentieth century, an European of Scottish descent, James Mackay, is said to have plagiarized the historical work on Graham Bell, a famous inventor (Noah & Eckstein, 2001). In addition, the writer was confirmed to have plagiarized some work regarding an honored American military officer. This particular work won an internationally acclaimed award. Moreover, Mackay was indicted and convicted for stealing valuable stamps at his workplace in a museum. This particular con artist gained infamy for forging success out of extensive plagiarism in many other cases.
An American, Marcel Duchamp earned bogus reputation for reproducing other people’s artwork including an altered copy of Leonardo da Vinci’s famous painting, La Gioconda, popularly known as the Mona Lisa (Buranen & Roy, 1999). Throughout his life, Duchamp championed the copying of other peoples’ work claiming that it added quality to the original work. He sought to legitimize his trade but failed to convincingly present his views regarding duplicating other people’s work. Furthermore, Duchamp made replicas of other famous and valuable objects without any due justification. Although he was accused of ridiculing other peoples’ work including known masterpieces, Duchamp succeeded in influencing peoples view on plagiarism.