Thursday Tip: Reflections on PLAGIARISM

Does plagiarism offend you? Or do you think that in today’s age of digital knowledge and online sharing, it doesn’t really matter?

As obvious as the answer might be, there seems to be two takes on it: one seemingly reflecting the opinion of the younger generation–understand some teenagers, and the other folks. The following article from Laura Miller, titled Plagiarism: The Next Generation, left me disturbed. And here is a New York Times article written by Nicholas Kulish on the same topic. There is a book that is currently all the rage in Germany, topping 5 in Der Spiegel’s bestselling list, a magaizine I would compare to the Time in America. AXOLOTL ROADKILL, written by seventeen year-old Helene Hegemann, is about a teenager who experiments with drugs and the club scene in Berlin, after her mother passed away. Hegemann recognizes heavily “borrowing” passages from a novel titled STROBO, written by a blogger known as Airen, who apparently also “borrowed” from other books. Professor Deborah Weber-Wulff’s, who lives in Germany, has a blog dedicated to cases of plagiarism and gives an update of the situation and the tension it creates among critics.

Hegemann is now up for the Leipzig Book Fair literary prize of $20,000 for AXOLOTL ROADKILL. You read well. She refutes accusations of plagiarism, explaining that what she did is “mixing.” Literary mixing.

And I’m left wondering where this world is going. The girl says, “I put all the material into a completely different and unique context and from the outset consistently promoted the fact that none of that is actually by me.” You do this in college and you could be expelled. A journalist does it and he gets fired. You copy entire pages of another book and you could win a $20,000 prize? Albeit it’s in another country. I still wonder what kind of message it sends to children. What are the new standards?

Am I the only one confused here?