Saturday, February 13, 2010

Plagiarism versus remixing.

I'm not sure how I feel about this. The 17-year-old author of a white-hot novel in Germany has admitted to lifting large parts of other works and inserting them into hers. She claims it's remixing rather than plagiarism. From the NYT article:

“There’s no such thing as originality anyway, just authenticity,” said Ms. Hegemann in a statement released by her publisher after the scandal broke.

Are we looking at a future with the loss of the self?

Scholarship is not only about recognizing and crediting one's sources. More than that, it's about finding relationships with texts, through those texts relationships with other writers and thinkers, and one's place in the dialogue around a topic. So if it's remixing, if we don't have to acknowledge outside sources, and if no one has to acknowledge us, then there are no relationships and no identity within the dialogue. As writers and thinkers, we would be submerged. So are we looking at a future with the loss of the self?


Lin Edwards said...

Great post, and I think it is worrying that plagiarism can just be called "remixing", and the name change makes it ok.

In a sense I agree there is no such thing as originality (for most of us anyway), as we are all influenced by many others, but how is it authenticity to insert the work of others into your own without acknowledgement?

I'm not sure about a loss of self, but it seems we are faced with a future in which there is a loss of integrity.

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Romantico said...

i call that Orwellian "doublespeak", i mean the euphemism "remixing" for the word "plagiarism". this doublespeak is widespread today and is used to hide the truth by giving things other names and identities. that's horrible.

Anonymous said...

Excellent post. I had not heard of this story and find it a bit sad.
Most if the time in music the "remixed" song has the full consent of the author(s).

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Vietnamvet68 said...

I find this remix or whatever they want to call it nothing more than theft and a slap in the face to the original writer. It is plagiarism at its worst.

mms said...

oh, it is so much worse than i thought. When I teach to college students I am shocked and confused by their lack of interest, much less understanding, of how important it is to credit the original source(They actually use words from the US Constitution, without citation and then are surprised when I call them on failure to cite -- how could I have possibly figured out that they cut and paste? How?) .
...And now there is a term that permits this laziness, "remixing".
Is it a loss of self or an over abundance of a sense of entitlement that enables and encourages this behavior? In the 5th grade, my class mate Sammy ripped the pages out of the encyclopedia and taped it to the loose leaf page. He got an F. its not about originality....its about critical thinking, its about individual thought, its about recognition of what another has said or written as theirs.

yudis said...

good post

Heather Poirier said...

Hello to everyone, and thanks for the comments. I've been thinking some more on remixing versus plagiarism, and how we know the difference. We can't afford to leave it at "I don't know much about art, but I know what I like," because that's too subjective. And that strikes me as the core difference. Remixing is a highly subjective task with sometimes obfuscated outcomes, whereas usage with attribution is objective. I think we have to ask if anything new has been created with the act of remixing. I haven't read the novel in question, so I don't know if it has. Others seem to have mixed opinions about whether it's novel or just borrowed.

If anyone's got more thoughts about this, I'm interested in hearing them. Thanks again for your insights.

Rogue Woman said...

This is so sad that her argument is that nothing is origional anymore. Maybe in her work it is not but others are still inventing.

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Friko said...

I came across you via idly browsing 'next blog', wasting time, in other words.
I came, found you and stayed to read.
This is interesting. You don't write often enough to make a regular date but I have put you in my bookmarks and will certainly call again.

Briley said...

I know this is a little bit of an older post to comment on, but I happened upon you while just clicking next blog. I found your post about remixing very interesting. I had not heard the story your post related to, but I was so sad to read what the author said.

My college English students have always needed extensive instruction on how to summarize someone else's ideas and then cite them. Most of them eventually get the idea, but there are still others who see absolutely no probably spitting the ideas of others back to me word for word with no citation. I have even had some take an F in defiance because they do not think what they are doing is wrong.

I love that you pointed out that we are all connected, and we all learn from each other. I feel that there is respect in honoring the person from whom you've learned, and that trying to pretend the information is your own is not only ignorant but sad.
Thanks again for your post, and I'll be checking your blog often for new posts.

Lisa said...

Great blog and well written :-)