The digital world has certainly changed the world for the better in some cases, but in the world of plagiarism, critics might suggest otherwise. With the sheer volume of content available across the World Wide Web, plagiarising even the most obscure of text is easily found out by using a plagiarism checker online.. With better understanding, easy access to information and the availability of these online checking tools, it can be hard to see why plagiarism is still such a big issue, even more so when you consider how high profile some cases are! With that in mind, we’re taking a look at five of the worst cases of plagiarism within business and politics.
Jayson Blair – The New York Times
2003 saw the end of a promising career in journalism at The New York Times for Jayson Blair when an editor at a competitor newspaper noticed something unusual about his content. This editor at San Antonio Express-News had realised a few similarities between content Blair had ‘written’ and some from one of their own journalists and so, of course, The New York Times were forced to launch an investigation into the allegation. It turned out that, of the 73 articles that he had written in his time, at least 36 of them were plagiarised or contained other less-than-okay behaviour. Of course, he was forced to resign as a journalist and is unlikely to have a job in the industry any time soon, though he now has a job as a life coach.
The Trump family have become synonymous with controversial behaviour and the first lady herself is certainly no exception. In 2016, Melania Trump was accused of plagiarising a speech she gave from none other than Michelle Obama. Commentators and Obama fans alike quickly jumped on the similarities, though it was Melania’s speechwriter, Meredith McIver, that admitted ‘borrowing’ from Michelle Obama’s speech. If that wasn’t enough, May 2018 has seen another plagiarism case for Mrs Trump, with her “Be Best” booklet containing striking similarities to one published during Obama’s time as president. Will she ever learn?
Japanese Olympic Stadium
Sports fans across the world are already excited about the 2020 games due to take place in Tokyo, but in just two years, the plagiarism accusations have been rolling out in strength. Not only was there an accusation of plagiarism regarding the logo, but another regarding the designs of the new stadium too! Similarities in design were cause for concern enough, but the overlap of contractors and a very quick turn-around for a new design has flagged up some serious accusations!
We all know Jane Goodall as the Primatologist she loves to be and with an impressive life behind her, it’s no wonder the world took notice. But regardless of her easy walk to a Cambridge PhD without a degree or training in sight, the plagiarism around her book Seeds of Hope: Wison and Wonder from the World of Plants was just too blatant to ignore. With text copied and ‘borrowed’ from pretty well-known sources like Wikipedia, it wasn’t too much of a surprise when it turned out that much of her answers from interviews and more were also copied from alternate sources.
Roots – Alex Haley
Most will know of the TV series Roots and a good chunk of those will know of Alex Haley’s novel of the same name that the book was based upon, but did you know that it was actually accused of plagiarism? This book took a lot of criticism, from accusations that the main character wasn’t related to the author at all, to claims that it was all entirely made up, but it was the plagiarism that we’re looking at. A book titled by the name of Jubilee bore a striking resemblance to some of the passages in Roots, and author of the former, Margaret Walker Alexander, was going to make sure the world knew. The court case followed and while the court did find Haley guilty, there wasn’t much they could do, as Jubilee was unprotected but a later accusation of plagiarism from a novel The African by Harold Courlander was protected. Haley took a ‘throw money until it goes away’ approach and mostly got away with it.
So there you have it, some of businesses worst cases of plagiarism! When you consider the blatancy of some of these cases, it can be hard to believe that they ever thought they’d get away with it! The moral of this story is to make sure that you check your content before you post and properly cite any and all sources you use to avoid legal and reputational consequences.