Monday, October 31, 2011

Something Borrowed!

In Malcolm Gladwell's essay, "Something Borrowed," he discusses plagiarism and considers what is copied and how much is copied to determine the legality of the situation. Gladwell questions when it is wrong to borrow. The main topic that Gladwell focuses on is about a play called "Frozen" written by a Byrony Lavery, who essentially steals the identity of a real person and portrays it in the play. Dorothy Lewis, a psychiatrist that has studied and worked with serial killers for over 25 years, hears of the play from many friends that all essentially tell her that she must see the play. In reading the script, Lewis finds that her "life" was stolen and written in the form of the play "Frozen." Then, Gladwell discusses plagiarism in the music industry. He found that many artists are upset when they hear similar note sequences in other artists' work; however, this isn't really considered plagiarism because the notes are essentially not owned by anyone because many people may copy someone but not realize they are doing it due to limited note choice, etc. Thus, Gladwell uses this music analysis to try and comprehend whether Lavery's play "Frozen" could be considered plagiarism even though she made it into her own story. All in all, Gladwell questions what constitutes plagiarism, and takes into account that words will be used over and over again without any knowledge of them being used before.

In reading this article, I found myself questioning whether I actually understand what Gladwell is trying to say. At one point I thought he was saying that plagiarism isn't necessarily a one note thing, and that there can be many exceptions to the rule, as seen in the music example. Before reading this, I would have argued that any type of copying or borrowing of material would be considered plagiarism unless properly cited; however, I feel like this article contradicts many of the things I thought about plagiarism. Honestly, I just feel confused, and I don't know whether Gladwell says its okay to "plagiarize" or not okay, or what the special cases there are. Just confused.

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