Plagiarism doesn't matter like it used to — at least not to college students. According to The New York Times, students raised during the Internet age have developed an extremely lax attitude towards stealing others' work. Many do it and consider it a non-issue, failing to grasp the difference between an unacceptable "copy & paste" and a properly cited passage. Is our digital free-for-all culture triggering an ethical breakdown? (Watch a local report about how to curb plagiarism.)
No, it's just easier to be unethical now: Are college students "redefining authorship"? asks Kevin Drum in Mother Jones. Not at all. They're simply "lazy and don't feel like trying to craft sentences of their own" — just like "every plagiarist in history." The only difference: The Internet has made plagiarism "a hundred times easier" than searching through dusty books in the library.
"The economics of plagiarism"
The age of "collaborative" content calls for new rules: Rather than condemn this generation for its ignorance, says Anna Leach in Shiny Shiny, "maybe it's time to redefine the rules." Content "is often collaborative" today: From YouTube to personal blogs, people are "sharing and remixing" each other's work. And much of the Internet's greatest hits — "the idea of LOLcats," for example — have come from this collective culture. "Maybe the academic world should catch up ..."
"Our copy-paste culture and why plagiarism isn't such a problem anymore"
It goes both ways: Sorry, but there's a "difference between incorporating the work of another and passing it off as one’s own," says law professor Jonathan H. Adler in The Volokh Conspiracy. Since we've failed to teach students that distinction, they'd better realize that the Internet has also simplified the process of "catching plagiarism." Watch out, students; teachers have a few tricks up their sleeves, too.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Russia's giant spy ship was a high-tech disaster waiting to happen
- America created the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria? Meet the ISIS 'truthers'
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- How American businessmen are ruining American business — and the U.S. economy
- The Obama era is over. The presidency continues.
- 10 things you need to know today: September 2, 2014
- On ISIS, neocons and liberal hawks have a 'boy who cried wolf' problem
- The 10 best networking tips for people who hate networking
- 11 scientific studies that will restore your faith in humanity
- Fall movie guide: All the films you should see in September
Subscribe to the Week