Plagiarism – Famous Cases of Something More than Allusion

Plagiarism isn’t something that’s left to mere mortals like the rest of us; there have been numerous bizarre high profile cases of plagiarism involving highly regarded people reported time and time again. In fact, celebs and particularly writers and journalists have a real penchant for plagiarism. So, with that in mind we’re going to take a look at some of the most famous cases from recent years.

Shia La BoeufShia La Boeuf

Former Disney star La Boeuf was found to have plagiarised the graphic novel work of Justin M. Damiano for his short film La Boeuf tweeted, “In my excitement and naiveté as an amateur filmmaker, I got lost in the creative process and neglected to follow proper accreditation.”

However, the whole scandal became weirder when La Boeuf then decided to write an apology, which turned out to be very similar to a post on Yahoo! Answers from a few years beforehand on how to apologise. He then hired a skywriter to script an apology in water vapour in the sky. He was then attacked by rapper Gucci Mane for using a tweet about skywriting and drug addiction. Not a good turn of events really and a lesson not learned it seems.

Johann HariJohann Hari

This is a very strange case here and one surrounding the English Journalist Johann Hari. Hari was an up and coming journalist who had won the Orwell Prize and had regular columns in the Independent before he was accused of plagiarism by Private Eye in 2003.

Hari was found to have used quotes from previous articles written by other journalists in his own interviews without any attribution. There were a number of occasions where Hari had used previous interviews by journalists and passed off quotes from these interviews as quotes from an interview of his.

Things took an even more bizarre turn when Hari was found to have made misleading edits on Wikipedia about those who had criticised him under a pseudonym.  Hari was suspended by the Independent for two months and had his Orwell Prize was given back. In 2011, the Independent reported that Hari had admitted plagiarism and would be attending a course on journalism training before being allowed to return to the newspaper.

T S ElliotT.S. Elliot

Famous English poet T.S. Elliot’s most famous work “The Wasteland’ is thought to have been plagiarised in part from an American poet known as Madison Cawein. Cawein worked hard putting money aside so he could work on his favourite pastime but died without recognition.

Cawein’s first published poem was titled “Waste Land’ and was published in the same issue of the magazine Poetry as Elliots “Love Song’. Eliots version of “The Waste Land’ and Cawein’s share a number of similarities. Eliot is also said to have stolen from Shakespeare and also from Edmund Spenser’s Prothalamion too – so it wasn’t something completely new to his writing.

However, in the world of poetry where creative licence is at its strongest most critics would just say it was allusions of other people’s work and a way of honouring them rather than actual stealing.

So, as you can see plagiarism exists in many forms and it’s not just students trying to get that essay completed on time that end up plagiarising, or those struggling with their courses and in need of help – some of the greatest poets and not so greatest actors in the world do too. It doesn’t make it right.

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