It's Not Plagiarism. It's "Repurposing."



Please, give me a break. Everything possible – or as close as we need come – has already been thought, printed, analyzed, and digitized. All an artist – a sensitive, realistic (if those are not contradictory terms) artist – can do today is take the infinitude of original material already created and find ways to, well, to re-use it.

At least, that seems to be what Kenneth Goldsmith believes, and he ought to know: he “teaches writing at the University of Pennsylvania, where he is a senior editor of PennSound, an online poetry archive.”

If you doubt, check it out.

Would someone who teaches writing at the University of Pennsylvania give you a bum steer?

But someone who teaches writing surely shouldn’t use the phrase “to centre around”, grr!

I did like this line, “Democracy is fine for YouTube, but it’s generally a recipe for disaster when it comes to art.”

Better for me to express myself: Democracy is fine for YouTube and Facebook, but it’s a recipe for disaster when it comes to art.

Those that read the article will see the art. I now feel all smug, superior and naughty. Probably just means I need sleep…

There’s homage, there’s influence, and then there’s plagiarism. I think every artist has some influences that the audience/reader/whatever can perceive. Good artists know how to use their influences so that it adds to the conversation. Bad ones splatter their influences. On the other end of that spectrum are the plagiarists, who have no creativity, and can’t be bothered to come up with their own work. I can forgive a lack of skill or craft (those who splatter), since they often care (sometimes passionately) about their work and are actually making something new. I can’t forgive plagiarists. It’s sheer laziness to plagiarize, and they’re essentially telling me that my time isn’t worth it to them to come up with something that’s their own.

When I was in college, people still got expelled for plagiarism. It needs to come back.

I think there are three types of work that references others: homage, influence and plagiarism. All writers have influences (often writing because they are passionate about reading too), and readers will always pick up on those. The best writers USE those influences to inspire and create new works that add to the sphere of human knowledge. Bad ones just vomit them onto the page. Head all the way to the other end of the specturm and you have true plagerists: those with no original thought or creativity.

In some ways the ‘vomiters’ can be forgiven, or at least understood as usually their passion for what they are writing is just as visislbe on the page as their influences and hey do at least try to create something new. Plagerists are a different story, however. They are essentially just taking a short cut to the finished work, and are basically saying to readers that they don’ care enough about their time to put in that extra effort to be original.

I can remember people being expelled from my sixth form for plagiarism, but it seems these days that it’s just considered ‘research’. The government should bring it back.

I see what you did there. :wink:

Just a few thoughts–as an English instructor at a college, I see a lot of plagiarism. I also fail every one I catch.

As far as the thought that everything that can be thought of and created has already been done–rubbish. There was a debate about a hundred years ago or so that centered around closing the patent office. The thought was that everything that could be discovered and invented had already happened. I guess they were wrong–a few things of note have been discovered and patented in the past hundred years.

I think Pigfender said it very well with the “three types of work.”

Most plagiarists suffer from Writer’s Block or that they’re downright lazy. Most of them lack originality, imagination and talent.

Plagiarism = lying, cheating, and deceit. It is quite different from being influenced by the work of others.

Detecting plagiarism is quite simple: put two works together. If the later makes you think of the former, and it hasn’t been acknowledged, you have a problem.


Most ideas out there aren’t new but every execution of those ideas are so long as they aren’t directly lifted from the other page and fitted with a new name. I’ve killed many a past writing project because as I worked on it, I was reminded too much of something else I had read somewhere. However, there is a big difference, I feel, between plagiarizing something and simply being inspired by it.

Another Goldsmith, the late composer Jerry Goldsmith gave a talk once at Berklee School of Music.

A student asked about stealing other composer’s work.

He answered first that taking another’s work and claiming it yours is plagiarism, and that’s wrong!
Then, however, he added: composers should and do take from other’s music – but “you as a composer must take that music and make it your own!”

Essentially saying the same thing as the title of this thread!