Sunday, January 05, 2014

Sorry seems to be the hardest word

As Steven Patrick Morrissey once sang, on Cemetery Gates, " Don't plagiarise or take "on loan" 'Cause there's always someone, somewhere. With a big nose, who knows. And who trips you up and laughs".

In the days before the Internet, plagiarism may well have been the last resort of the scoundrel but it was often difficult to recognise, from music to literature the road to Wigan Pier is littered with hopes and dreams that have been dashed by eagled eye (and eared) readers and consumers of music. The high profile case of George Harrison v The Chiffons was all the more shocking because it was a Beatle involved. In 1973 there were accusations that the riff on Sweet's 'Blockbuster' was copied from David Bowie's 'The Jean Genie', most pop music fans were too self obsessed and absorbed to acknowledge that both were rip offs (or riff offs)  of Bo Diddley (I'm A Man) via The Doors (Roadhouse Blues)

One of my favourite novels, Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray borrowed heavily from a story by J K Huysman, something Wilde acknowledged in his own imitable style by stating, "Of course I plagiarise, it is the privilege of the appreciative man".

These days though we are all just a click of the mouse away from being exposed as a charlatan (and I'm not talking about those West Midlands boys legal dispute with the American 60's band of the same name). Like a lot of bloggers I tend to put other peoples words, when used without any alteration in italics, that goes back to the days when I did actually submit articles for publication and there was an unwritten code regarding 'quotable quotes' which said you could use another persons work if you limited yourself to one or two lines.

With the rise of 'Churnalism' the lines between plagiarism and inventive journalism have all but vanished, the lack of acknowledgement or even cursory 'hat-tipping'  seemingly so last century. Take one example, and this is very low grade stuff, when the BBC announced last Autumn that Kylie Minogue would be joining their Saturday night talent show The Voice as a host/judge, the BBC press release was republished on nine different websites with varying degrees of editing. As this article on shows the Daily Mirror, Daily Express, Herald, Guardian and Sun are more guilty of the cut and paste approach than our old friends at the Daily Mail. Which proves that whilst the Mail might be guilty of publishing crap it is at least their crap they are publishing, which in many ways is a huge relief  

So pity, or not, poor old Shia LaBeouf  who was not only caught out for his plagiarism but was then caught out when he decided to apologise for his plagiarism by using other people's apologies. What made me smile about this whole sorry affair though was the final act in La Beouf's cunning plan, he decided to say sorry one last time by using a plane and skywriting except the plane was sent to San Francisco whilst the apology was really due in Los Angeles.


Span Ows said...

LOL, love the fact that he copied the apologies: it goes to show how the internet makes us lazy, why bother to think up good words or phrase when somebody has already done better? :-)

Paul said...

Indeed - there is a theory that he was taking the piss out of himself but I suspect that wasn't the case.

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