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->''Let no one else's work evade your eyes,''
->''Remember why the good Lord made your eyes,''
->''So don't shade your eyes,''
->''But plagiarize, plagiarize, plagiarize -''
->''Only be sure always to call it please 'research'.''
-->-- '''Music/TomLehrer, "Lobachevsky"'''

Plagiarism is essentially taking the work of others and attempting to pass it off as one's own. In academia, it is generally defined as putting forth ideas cribbed from other places and claiming that the writer came up with them -- in other words, discussing facts and theories without proper citation. This can get dicey if the author of a paper or essay happened to come to the same conclusion as a previous writer independently. It can also lead to 'Plagiarism Paranoia', when a student panics over whether they've cited it enough or not. However, around here, we're more concerned with literary plagiarism. For plagiarism used as a plot point, see PlagiarismInFiction.

When it comes to works of fiction, the term ''plagiarism'' tends to be misused quite a bit; indeed, most of what is referred to as 'blatant plagiarism' is actually far less blatant than actual plagiarism. If two stories happen to have [[{{Trope}} similar elements]], it does not mean that one plagiarised the other. All stories are influenced by what has come before and what the author has experienced; the most likely case is that one story inspired at least part of the other, or that [[OlderThanTheyThink both are inspired by an even older common source]].

Literary plagiarism can involve the use of events and characters from a work of fiction, or the wholesale copying of another author's text. To be plagiarized, the text, characters or ideas must be used without crediting the original author for their work.

Note that plagiarism does not necessarily involve copyright infringement, or vice versa. A writer can plagiarize a work that is no longer under copyright or was never copyrighted. If writer Joe Smith publishes a play he copied from a Creator/WilliamShakespeare anthology, Smith is still plagiarizing even though Shakespeare's work is in the public domain. Copyright infringement occurs when Joe Smith uses someone else's copyrighted work without their permission, even if Joe Smith is [[IDoNotOwn upfront about the fact that he is not the author]].

Almost all FanFiction involves copyright infringement, though most authors turn a blind eye to it as long as it isn't earning the fanfic writer any money (fanfic is of course not copyright infringement if the characters and events are all in the public domain).

On the other hand, a story about a farmboy who rescues a princess and destroys the BigBad's DoomsdayDevice is not necessarily plagiarism; if it's different enough from ''Franchise/StarWars'', all you can say is that they both make use of some of the same {{trope}}s (and, indeed, Creator/GeorgeLucas [[GenreThrowback cribbed from quite a few older sources]]).

To confuse matters, there are a few cases where copying directly from the work of others is acceptable -- namely, {{homage}}s, {{shout out}}s, remakes/retellings, and [[TheParody parodies]].

A ShoutOut is probably the least controversial. In most cases, a shout out only lasts a second or so, and it is clear from the context that the person who wrote it did so mainly to acknowledge the influence or awesomeness of one who came before.

A {{homage}} is more difficult to defend. In general, a homage will use imagery and ideas from the original material but with sufficient differences that one can easily tell that the new work is influenced by what has gone before.

For example, the fifth in Creator/StephenKing's ''Franchise/TheDarkTower'' series sees the heroes defending a town against raiders who attack every so often, in a plot which was acknowledged [[LampshadeHanging in the series itself]] as being inspired by both ''The Seven Samurai'' and ''The Magnificent Seven''. However, the characters were original, and the setting and raiders were largely the product of King's own imagination (albeit containing numerous {{shout out}}s).

A "remake" or "retelling" is doing the original work over again with some relatively minor changes, while openly admitting that it's heavily derived from the original. A famous example of a retelling is John Sturges' film ''Film/TheMagnificentSeven'', which had the plot and even some of the same dialogue as Akira Kurosawa's earlier ''Film/SevenSamurai''. The only real difference is that while Kurosawa's film was set in feudal Japan, Sturges' was set in TheWildWest. Why is this not plagiarism? Because Sturges had two things going for him: Kurosawa knew what he was doing and gave his approval, and Sturges openly acknowledged that he was simply moving ''Film/SevenSamurai'' to the Old West. He never claimed that it was a purely original work.

Contrast this with Creator/SergioLeone's ''Film/AFistfulOfDollars'', which is a frame for frame remake of Kurosawa's ''Film/{{Yojimbo}}'', but set in Spain pretending to be Texas. When Kurosawa saw the film, he wrote to Leone "It is a very fine film, but it is my film." He sued and won, because Leone didn't have permission, didn't give credit, and didn't pay.

Finally, [[SatireParodyPastiche a parody]] is the hardest thing to guard against accusations of plagiarism, because parodies tend deliberately imitate the thing they're making fun of in order to get jokes. In many cases, particularly on the Internet, accusations of plagiarism are avoided simply by sticking a note saying something along the lines of "This is a parody. [work being parodied] is the intellectual property of [copyright holder]" at the top of the story or sidebar of the Website/YouTube video. This is used by ''WebVideo/YuGiOhTheAbridgedSeries'' and its [[FollowTheLeader imitators]]. The doctrine that is invoked to protect parodies (and other forms of copying) is called FairUse.

If a book parodies another work of fiction, there is generally an introduction in which the author clearly states that this is a parody, and explains why they are making fun of the original work. This approach is used in ''Literature/BoredOfTheRings'', a parody of ''Literature/TheLordOfTheRings'', among others.

Parodies in TV and movies often eschew both of these in favour of simply changing the plot just enough so that it technically counts as an independent work. In other cases, the work is blatantly a parody of something else, and the authors generally argue that parodies are protected under the FairUse doctrine.

Plagiarism in ''music'' is a far more tricky issue, because there are plenty of similarly-sounding songs and [[FollowTheLeader acts that look like or sound like others]].

Generally in music, ShoutOut is ''welcome'' and almost never seen as plagiarism (especially if the artist ends up collaborating with or is doing an obvious tribute to the artist; and a CoverVersion is ''almost always'' treated as a ShoutOut as long as it's properly introduced/labeled as a cover ''and'' the covering artist either has the rights to it or isn't doing it to make money.

The musical version of a homage is something like an artist choosing to be an {{expy}} of another artist's appearance or style, but making no claims to have ''originated'' that appearance or style or technique. It's generally also not considered plagiarism, unless it is an ''exact'' copy to the degree of being an impersonator ''and'' with a claim of originality.

Parody in music covers impersonators and cover artists and the like, as well as some of the two categories mentioned below - remix and sampling. As satire or parody in the form of a musical act is often more obviously so on the face, it's rarely considered plagiarism ''unless'' it is impossible to tell what is being parodied.

Sampling (or replaying a riff or section but not an entire cover) directly is a gray area - generally, it's not considered plagiarism if it only makes up one portion of the song ''and'' permission has been sought and given, and/or the sample is public domain or from a public broadcast or the like.

[[RearrangeTheSong Remixing]] ''can'' be considered plagiarism, especially if it's done poorly enough (so the original song isn't changed in any appreciable way), or if it is done without permission and for financial benefit as opposed to being a ShoutOut or tribute. However, most remixes done with permission ''and'' that substantially change the song (at least by switching out one instrument, changing the rhythm or meter or time, looping the end at the middle, etc... the more changes the better, usually) are considered as derivative but not plagiarism.

''True'' actionable musical plagiarism generally consists of not crediting samples or remixes, ''entirely'' mimicking someone else without any of the defenses above (impersonation, homage, ShoutOut, parody), lifting musical passages or lyrics note for note without permission or credit and claiming them to be one's own (e.g. if you claim the guitar solo in [[Music/VanHalen ''Eruption'']] is your own creation, or that you personally wrote [[Music/JohnLennon ''Imagine'']]), or naming your band or act exactly as another is named (even unintentionally - this is what got both Music/XJapan and Music/{{Versailles}} sued and forced to change names, as there was an existing American band called X and a French artist called Versailles).
'''Do not link to this page whenever you deem something as plagiarism. This page is meant to explain the phenomenon of plagiarism, not to be used as a way for Administrivia/ComplainingAboutShowsYouDontLike. Thanks for your attention.'''

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