“There is much difference between imitating a man and counterfeiting him.”
That was said by Benjamin Franklin, a dude so cool and smart that we put him on the hundred dollar bill.
A few weeks ago, we wrote a cool post
about intellectual property and fair use in regards to the Beastie Boys' song “Girls” and a web video parodying it. There are various rules, laws, and ethics telling us the right ways to use other people’s ideas. Fair Use allows us to use other people’s intellectual property, but under certain conditions: how you use the copyrighted work, if you change or alter it, the amount of the work you use, etc. One thing that always works in your favor when using someone else’s work is to attribute the original creator. Taking someone else’s ideas and claiming them as your own is the ugly flipside to Fair Use, and is a use that is almost never ever ever never “fair.”
Using someone else’s ideas without giving them credit is called plagiarism. As some of you may have read
, the actor/filmmaker Shia LaBeouf (of Transformers and Even Stevens fame) is in some hot water about a short film he just released. Titled HowardCantour.com, it is an almost direct adaptation of a comic written by famous artist Daniel Clowes (author of Ghost World and many others) called Justin M. Damiano. Nowhere in the credits for the film did LaBeouf say that his film was inspired by Clowes, and he never once contacted the author for permission to adapt his work. (Ironic that the “credits” don’t give proper credit, no?) LaBeouf has since apologized, but some people are even questioning if his apologies are plagiarized, too!
It’s a good thing I said my quote up top was from Benjamin Franklin. Leaving that out would have been bad. Even worse would have been leaving the quotation marks off. That would make it seem like that was my own idea, and my own words. But it wasn’t. It was Franklin’s ideas, and Franklin’s words. As you all know, when writing a research paper or anything else, it is essential that you credit where you get your ideas from. A bibliography or works cited page, and in-text citations or footnotes, help keep you in the clear when it comes to plagiarism. It’s important to build your own ideas off of the awesome ideas that have come before, but acknowledging from where you get those first ideas is also important. If you ever have questions, talk with any of the HUB staff, and we’ll help you get your citations in order and avoid “counterfeiting” your ideas.