Plagiarism is a hardship that interferes with people’s work and harms their academic integrity and reputation. But in addition to these, plagiarism also adheres to more stringent rules, including monetary and legal ones. There have been a fair share of famous plagiarism cases, and we’ll dive into each one a bit to get bigger picture.
Plagiarism affects not just ordinary people but also professionals and well-known figures who have significant public influence, such as politicians, musicians, and writers.
Sadly, even though the phrase “plagiarism” has gained so much popularity, individuals are still susceptible to it.
They are perceived as being “dependent” on it, not because they are incapable of doing their best, but because doing so frequently results from being lazy and leaving work late.
Let’s briefly discuss some of the more well-known incidents before moving on to each to see how it was handled and whether any action was taken to address it.
Topics such as music industry professionals, politicians, and writers caught in plagiarism will be covered in this article.
Famous plagiarism cases in music
The music industry is notorious for its use of plagiarism. There are a lot of artists, both new and established, who have been accused of plagiarism.
Since it is so simple to detect music plagiarism these days, music lovers in general and followers of particular artists are usually the first to recognize similarities in songs.
Let’s take a closer look at a few tracks that have been accused of plagiarism now:
- George Harrison
- Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams
- Ray Parker Jr.
In all likelihood, the most extended and one of the most famous plagiarsm cases in music in American history is still the George Harrison case. It is clear from how this discussion is structured that this matter was litigated for years before it was finally resolved in American courts.
George Harrison is understood to have been accused of copying the song “He’s so fine” by The Chiffons in his song “My Sweet Lord.” So, on February 10, 1971, George Harrison was sued for plagiarism of the song “He’s so fine” by Bright Tunes, the owner of the song’s publishing rights.
Harrison denied this, but the legal battle continued for so long because the rights holder refused to give up and insisted on receiving 40% of the song’s sales as compensation.
After that, Harrison’s primary concern was less about the situation that directly affected him and more about how his audience would react.
Although Harrison denied that his song could be plagiarized—or, more precisely, identical to the accused composition—the $587,000 in damages Harrison had to pay was ruled on February 19, 1981.
Harrison never felt terrible or blamed for writing this song, even after the case was resolved, and the payment sum was established.
Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams
According to allegations, musicians Pharell Williams and Robin Thicke lifted parts of Marvin Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up” for their successful song “Blurred Lines.”
The two were charged with violating the copyright from Marvin Gaye’s family, which owns the rights to the musician’s songs. As a result, it took the court system almost five years to reach a ruling.
The court’s initial ruling for these two was a 7.3 million dollar fine, but they challenged the accusations and wanted a thorough investigation. This request led to another examination of the situation. As was already said, it took five years to reach a firm conclusion on this matter.
The court ultimately ruled on this matter after conducting a thorough review. “Artists Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams will pay $5 million in damages to Marvin Gaye’s family for copyright infringement,” the court’s most recent ruling read.
Despite the tremendous amount of money their accomplishment gave them—16.5 million—they hardly agreed to pay compensation.
However, after five years of delay, the issue was finally resolved, and they were required to make restitution for the violation.
According to guitarist Joe Satriani, Coldplay’s song “Vida La Vida” plagiarized from his instrumental “If I Could Fly.” In his case against Coldplay, Satiran demanded compensation for copyright infringement.
“With all due respect to Joe Satriani, the resemblance may be unintentional and unconscious; this was as much a surprise to him as it was to us, Coldplay stated in response to the accusation against them.
Dean D. Pregerson, the judge, in this case, halted the trial and ordered that both parties bear their costs and reach an amicable agreement.
However, as none of the parties made a statement regarding this matter, it is currently unknown whether or not an agreement was reached.
Ray Parker Jr.
Ray Parker Jr. was approached to write the Ghostbusters theme song based on the film by the film’s producers and contributed to its co-writing.
But a few years after the song’s release, Huey Lewis filed a lawsuit against Ray Parker Jr., claiming that “Ghostbusters” and Lewis’ famous song “I Want a New Drug” were similar. Lewis filed a case for a portion of the $5 million to be paid in compensation.
An agreement was made as part of the out-of-court settlement that limited the song’s exposure in the media.
After that, this situation still needs to be resolved. Parker sued Lewis for violating a confidentiality agreement, but the issues about the lawsuit’s outcome were kept private.
Famous plagiarism cases in politics
Even politicians occasionally get caught copying, even though they control the political scene and are held to a higher standard of objectivity and accuracy.
Some politicians have come under fire for stealing other people’s ideas and using them in their speeches while claiming authorship.
Let’s focus on a few prominent political plagiarism instances and look at each case’s outcomes.
Examples of blatant political copying will be discussed in this article, including:
- Melania Trump
- Barack Obama
- Ben Carson
The speech that Melania Trump presented sparked controversy after it was claimed she had plagiarized parts of Michelle Obama’s speech.
Melania appeared on the day of the Republican National Convention and gave a speech to a large crowd. Immediately after she delivered her speech, one of the famous plagiarism cases was leveled against her based on the text she had used.
According to the Trump crew, Mrs. Trump had used ordinary language that any of us would say and had not plagiarized.
Trump’s campaign accused Hillary Clinton of controversy and media bias, even though a freelance writer discovered the plagiarism of the speech, and it went viral before any other reports from their allies.
However, Trump’s allies accused his team and not mostly Mrs. Trump of this.
The Trump campaign claimed that the speech’s author would be fired and held accountable for their actions, but Michelle Obama made no comments on the subject.
In his speech, Barack Obama was accused of plagiarizing by his rival, Mrs. Clinton, who claimed that the former president had taken the words of Governor Deval Patrick.
However, the governor spoke about the charge. He said that this accusation was made because both parties were competing for votes and that it was excessive and inappropriate.
Obama, by contrast, ran a different campaign in 2004 on the theme “Yes We Can,” as did Patrick in 2006.
Clinton once again responded to this: “If your entire candidacy is about words, they should be your words.”
Once again, Patrick gave an answer to this. “That’s not right,” he replied, adding that great ideas are more important than words. These words have become idioms.”
In the end, Patrick claimed that he and Obama had a strong connection that lasted for nearly 15 years. He claimed that such an accusation was inevitable because he had experienced similar things.
On the other hand, Obama expressed regret and acknowledged that he ought to have given Patrick the proper credit for this.
BuzzFeed News claimed that Ben Carson’s book “America the Beautiful” included instances of plagiarism.
In this instance, Dr. Carson expressed regret and stated that he is working with his editors to attribute any passages from other publications correctly.
In a statement to ABC News, Carson said: “Although I made an effort, I accidentally forgot to cite and acknowledge several sources in “America the Beautiful.” I sincerely apologize and am working with my editors to make things right.”
Although it was stated by BuzzFeed that there were sections plagiarized from Federer in this book, Carson did reference Federer in certain places.
Federer asserted that the quotation is adequate, that he assisted Carson with the book, and that he does not believe any sources were unlawfully used.
He said he had authorized Carson to use 10,000 words or fewer as long as he provided accurate attribution. Carson was a former neurosurgeon who claimed the 2016 Grand Old Party (GOP) presidential nomination.
He admitted it and apologized, so the matter was resolved, but he was not the only candidate who had been found to have copied.
Famous plagiarism cases in writers
The issue of plagiarism is pervasive and does not just affect students. Plagiarism can also impact authors, who are typically thought of as gregarious people who read voraciously to find fresh ideas for their writing.
Plagiarism in books can also occur when authors are influenced by an idol and end up plagiarizing their work. Therefore, it is likely more common in book writing than politics or music.
Some authors who have been part of a famous plagiarism case issues and their repercussions:
- Cristiane Serruya
- Helen Keller
- Jacob Epstein
When Cristiane Serruya was charged with plagiarism for her “Romantic Novelist” work, she was already a published novelist. She had copied from numerous authors, not just one, in her book.
The first person to catch her plagiarism was Courtney Milan, who reacted right away and reported it on her blog.
Following the publication of this article, other authors discovered that their pieces had also been included in the book and started tweeting about it.
Serruya did not dispute this but instead criticized the writer who had hired her. Despite this, Serruya remained on the blacklist created by the other writers.
Although she was compelled to delete her Twitter account, no action was brought because it would be expensive to sue in another nation.
American author Helen Keller is blind and deaf. She learned about Margaret Canby’s story “Frost Fairies” before creating the fairy tale “The Frost King” at 11.
After this story was published, its plagiarism was promptly identified, and the author was accused. Although it is unclear if it was done on purpose or by mistake, it is assumed that it occurred because the author was unaware of the adverse effects of plagiarism.
It might be challenging to establish boundaries when it comes to literary plagiarism. However, this can also be decided using well-established academic conventions.
Another author, Jacob Epstein, was accused of plagiarizing by renowned British author Marin Amis. The author’s first book, Wild Oats, which had passages lifted from Martin Amis’s “The Rachel Papers,” was determined to be plagiarism.
Plagiarism was acknowledged by author Estein, who claimed it was entirely unintentional. Additionally, he underlined that he was guilty of plagiarism since he was disorganized and lost track of the quotations.
Whether or not this – one oft he most famous plagiarism cases – was intentionally committed, it somehow removes the authors from the situation.
Coincidence or Plagiarism?
Considering that some literary and music themes are so well-established, it is difficult to tell if something is genuinely original or just a coincidence.
However, every artist and writer finds inspiration for their creations someplace, and this inspiration sometimes goes so far as to be deemed plagiarism. Although inspiration is allowed, you must give your invention an entirely new life if you want to avoid being charged with plagiarism – thus giving birth to new famous plagiarism cases.
Politics is an exception to this rule because, even though some of their speeches may sound similar to others, they may not fully reflect the same ideas.
Although they may touch on some of the same topics, they should stay true to themselves if specific sentences have inspired them.
Politicians should not make the same promises to the public as someone before them but instead, talk about what they believe in and what they hope to achieve while in office.
As a result, it is clear from this that everyone is free to be inspired, but you shouldn’t copy what someone else says. Keep a record of the quotation whenever you use a paragraph from another source, breathe new life into the ideas you wish to convey, and be authentic in your work.