Stop Copying Me! Raising the Barr Weekly Memo: Issue 185

We are in the midst of the Republican National Convention this week in Cleveland and I couldn’t help avoid the intense media focus on Melania Trump’s speech and subsequent charges of plagiarism. She was accused of stealing verbatim from Michelle Obama’s convention speech from 2008.

I listened to Governor Chris Christie defending this during an interview this morning. He acknowledged the fact that he would be thrilled if only 7% of his own speeches are plagiarized.

Several years ago I wrote an article titled Proper Attribution Please, about my daughter Sharon’s biblical sermon that had been plagiarized word for word by her Rabbinical student classmate without proper attribution!

And, about a year ago I came across an article in a national magazine on the topic of Digital Empire Creation, which is trademarked by me. I was flabbergasted to discover it was written by a colleague who interviewed me for his blog during the prior year while mentioning that I had coined that phrase.

I recently came across this great line (and I am paraphrasing): “If you use someone’s intellectual property (IP) without attribution, that’s plagiarism. Yet, if you use many people’s IP without attribution, that’s research or curation.”

The more we pay attention to and consume others’ intellectual property, the more we may be influenced by them and allow the lines of demarcation to become foggy. The key is to learn to pay the proper attribution when deserved or make sure you are unique and original. Doing so will prevent you receiving the wrong media attention or nasty legal consequences.

This week’s tip: Before you publish your next piece make sure the content is original and completely belongs to you, or be certain to give credit where credit is due.

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