Monday, October 31, 2011

Something Borrowed

In "Something Borrowed", Malcolm Gladwell asks whether plagiarism charges should ruin someone's life by describing a personal story about the plagiarism of the Broadway play "Frozen" by Bryony Lavery. The play was about a psychiatrist that studied serial killers. It turns out that Lavery had taken much of what was put into the play from a profile done by Gladwell about a psychiatrist named Dorothy Lewis. Gladwell continues to describe different situations in which 'copying' is okay and when it is not okay. He describes that if a few chords in a song are similar it isn't considered plagiarism because the original piece wasn't necessarily the first piece to ever contain those chords. Gladwell explains that the line is fuzzy when trying to determine when music is being plagiarized, but for writers it is never okay to copy someone else's work. When referring to the play "Frozen", Gladwell explains that reference needs to be given to the original author of the information because it was them that came up with these creative ideas. Dorothy Lewis was also offended by this because the play was basically on her life and people recognized that, and then there were scenes in the play where her character committed things that Dorothy had never done, like having an affair. Even after all this hardship was caused over Lavery plagiarizing Gladwell's work and Dorothy's life, Gladwell realizes that it isn't the end of the world and Lavery had purely plagiarized by accident.

I thought this article was very interesting and I didn't realize that some of these things were considered plagiarism. I can understand where Gladwell is coming from in this piece as he describes his frustration and then later comes to terms that it is okay. I would be very upset if phrases that I had used ended up in a Broadway play without any attribution to me at all. However, I can understand where Lavery is coming from when she exclaims that her creativity just went loose while she was reading Dorothy's profile and she didn't realize that it was considered plagiarism to use the personality traits in the play. I also feel like stuff like this happens all the time. Students use little phrases from articles and books all the time without making any reference to the author, but because this play was on Broadway and the media was attracted to it, it became a huge ordeal. So I think this piece has made me more aware of what information I am taking out of other sources and made me realize that I need to give attribution to who really came up with the ideas.

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