By Kelvin Adegbenga
Plagiarism is the “wrongful appropriation” and “stealing and publication” of another author’s “language, thoughts, ideas, or expressions” and the representation of them as one’s own original work. The idea remains problematic with unclear definitions and unclear rules.
Plagiarism is not in itself a crime, but can constitute copyright infringement. In academia and industry, it is a serious ethical offense. Plagiarism and copyright infringement overlap to a considerable extent, but they are not equivalent concepts, and many types of plagiarism do not constitute copyright infringement, which is defined by copyright law and may be adjudicated by courts. Plagiarism is not defined or punished by law, but rather by institutions (including professional associations, educational institutions, and commercial entities, such as publishing companies).
Although plagiarism in some contexts is considered theft or stealing, the concept does not exist in a legal sense, although the use of someone else’s work in order to gain academic credit may meet some legal definitions of fraud. “Plagiarism” specifically is not mentioned in any current statute, either criminal or civil. Some cases may be treated as unfair competition or a violation of the doctrine of moral rights. The increased availability of intellectual property due to a rise in technology has furthered the debate as to whether copyright offences are criminal. In short, people are asked to use the guideline, “if you did not write it yourself, you must give credit”.
Plagiarism is not the same as copyright infringement. While both terms may apply to a particular act, they are different concepts, and false claims of authorship may constitute plagiarism regardless of whether the material is protected by copyright. Copyright infringement is a violation of the rights of a copyright holder, when material whose use is restricted by copyright is used without consent. Plagiarism, in contrast, is concerned with the unearned increment to the plagiarizing author’s reputation, or the obtaining of academic credit, that is achieved through false claims of authorship. Thus, plagiarism is considered a moral offense against the plagiarist’s audience. (Wikipedia)
I was surprised when the media was eroded with headlines such as “Change Begins with Me Campaign Suffered A Setback” due to Plagiarism.
Speeches of men that changed the face of the World need no reference when being used. Obama fall within this group by virtue of being the only Blackman to have presided over the affairs of United States.
You need no reference when quoting people like Aristotle, Zeus, Socrates e.t.c. The World already knows their speeches are free for all.
It took President Buhari’s Speech Writer’s ignorance to admit guilt on this. Most proverbs being used freely today belong to the Chinese; most people don’t even know and still use them like it’s theirs.
I am very sure that Barak Obama has quoted speeches from Shakespeare, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln e.t.c which his Speech Writer must have written them without citing them; yet Americans has not called for the head of Obama the ways Nigerians are calling for the head of President Buhari.
Though not acceptable by any Standard, plagiarism does less National harm than corruption and stealing which has faced the country under the past administration.
It will be recalled that President Buhari on September 8 launched the ‘reorientation’ campaign in Abuja as part of his government’s strategy to make Nigerians eschew “dishonesty, indolence, unbridled corruption and widespread impunity” and embrace daily introspection over their “immoral” conducts, so I am not surprised at the condemnation; using Plagiarism as an excuse.
I am also aware that some corrupt elements that are not comfortable with the ‘Change Begins with Me’ Campaign had used one Akin Fadeyi, creator of ‘Not In My Country’ to accused the Buhari administration of stealing his concept.
The corrupt elements claimed that Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed adapt Mr. Fadeyi’s ‘Not In My Country,’ for ‘Change Begins with Me’ campaign but Lai Mohammed has denied the allegations, saying he started ‘Change Begins with Me’ before he was appointed Minister by the Buhari’s administration.
I know that the ‘Change Begins with Me’ campaign had earned President Buhari denigration from those who are used to corrupt practices but the Federal Government must make the campaign necessary so as to rally all Nigerians to clean the country of corruption and other discontent tormenting it.
Just like President Buhari has urged Nigerians to look beyond this incident and focus on the message of change which the country needs in order to restore our cherished value systems, I stand with President Buhari on the objectives of the ‘Change Begins with Me’.
God bless Nigeria.
Kelvin Adegbenga is a Freelance Journalist based in Port Harcourt and can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org