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Is Plagiarism In Literature Just Sampling?

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the everyone-does-it dept.

Books 449

ardent99 writes "According to the NY Times today, Helene Hegemann's first book has been moving up the best-seller list in Germany and is a finalist for a major book prize. While originally this was notable because Hegemann is only 17 and this is her first book, and so earned praise as a prodigy, what's interesting now about this story is that she has been caught plagiarizing many passages in the book. Amazingly, she has not denied it, but instead claims there is nothing wrong with it. She claims that she is part of a new generation that has grown up with mixing and sampling in all media, including music and art, and this is legitimate in modern culture. Have we entered a new era where plagiarism is not just tolerated, but seen as normal? Is this the ultimate in cynicism, or is it simply a brash attempt to get away with something now that she's been caught? Is her claim to legitimacy compromised by the fact that she only admitted it after it was discovered by someone else? And finally, if 'sampling' is not acceptable in literature, is this reason to rethink the legitimacy of musical sampling?"

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No. (4, Informative)

pwnies (1034518) | more than 4 years ago | (#31120142)

The difference between bands like Girl Talk who sample music to create new pieces, and someone copying someone else's words into a paper they're writing, is that Girl Talk doesn't claim to have made the samples. One of the aspects of why plagiarism is seen as wrong is because you're taking credit for someone else's work. When you're sampling music, you're crediting them.

Re:No. (4, Insightful)

mrsquid0 (1335303) | more than 4 years ago | (#31120194)

That is a very good point. Sampling would be taking a short section of text and putting using in quotes, or otherwise acknowledging in your work that you are using something that someone else wrote.

Re:No. (2, Insightful)

oever (233119) | more than 4 years ago | (#31120584)

If you write a novel where you sample from many other books, quoting prominently would be distracting. I'd be ok with a list of sources in the back that points out which snippets came from where. In an electronic version of the book, the reader could configure how to display text fragments that were sampled.

I'm all for creative use of earlier works. Copyright law should not be an artificial obstacle that limits the texts an artist can write. Like in music, sampling significant pieces of text might require monetary compensation.

Re:No. (4, Insightful)

dj961 (660026) | more than 4 years ago | (#31120978)

Non-fiction readers would disagree on quoting being distracting. Lifting an entire page is hardly sampling. It outright theft.

Re:No. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31120618)

That is a very good point. Sampling would be taking a short section of text and putting using in quotes, or otherwise acknowledging in your work that you are using something that someone else wrote.

No, no. (0)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 4 years ago | (#31120818)

That is a very good point. Sampling would be taking a short section of text and putting using in quotes, or otherwise acknowledging in your work that you are using something that someone else wrote.

No. Sampled music is *not* "put in quotes". It is generally fully integrated into the new work.

The correct analogy is a reference in the back of the book acknowledging the original author.

I think clearly there is a different standard being applied here. But I think that it might be perfectly fine to use a different standard, it's not at all, in my mind, valid to treat all media the same. We're not cutting up a block of cheese here.

Re:No. (3, Insightful)

EvilIdler (21087) | more than 4 years ago | (#31120238)

People usually add some music/lyrics of their own over sampled sounds, too. Does the book have layered text on top of each page? ;)

Re:No. (2, Interesting)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 4 years ago | (#31120884)

People usually add some music/lyrics of their own over sampled sounds, too. Does the book have layered text on top of each page? ;)

The book certainly is certainly telling a new story so yes, metaphorically every page is layered with original creative work on top of the 'sampled' text.

Re:No. (4, Interesting)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 4 years ago | (#31120248)

If you sample music to make your own song, you'd better credit properly and pay or else the original songwriter will end up owning your song. The Verve's Bittersweet Symphony is a classic example of that. The music behind the band is a remix of The Rolling Stone's "You Can't Always Get What You Want" and since they didn't license and credit that, The Stones now get 100% of the royalty payments for that song.

Re:No. (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31120518)

Actually, the Verve did license that sample but lost in court anyway (the owner of the original recording thought they used "too much" of the sample, and the court agreed. I still find it to be incredible BS, the string loop isn't that long. Their real complaint was that the song became a hit and the lawyers smelled money). So the real lesson is "music industry people will screw you"

Re:No. (1)

HoboCop (987492) | more than 4 years ago | (#31120534)

This is true.
On-topic: You have to credit other people's work, or suffer the consequences.

Off-topic:
Although I'd argue that covering another artist's work (music) and not worrying about it is a valid business strategy. The music is proven, therefore is more likely to get some recognition. The original artist has some incentive to see that song get airplay, since it pays them. It at least gives you a shot to have your original music heard by both wider audiences, and people in the industry who's attention is hard to get. If you suck then you won't get much further, but at least it's not because nobody heard your stuff.

Re:No. (1)

Fnkmaster (89084) | more than 4 years ago | (#31120536)

Actually, they did have a license - but there was litigation on the matter because they apparently sampled "too much" of the source track, and now the Rolling Stones get all the royalties from that track. So it's not a good example, as it's more a question of whether their use of the sample was so extensive as to not make it an original work at all.

Re:No. (1)

ViViDboarder (1473973) | more than 4 years ago | (#31120658)

How about Vanilla Ice

Re:No. (5, Informative)

reverseengineer (580922) | more than 4 years ago | (#31120696)

In the United States, since 1991, the date of Grand Upright Music, Ltd v. Warner Bros. Records Inc., [wikipedia.org] music samples need to be cleared by the copyright holder. That's what seems to be the real distinction here- you cannot consider literary plagarism to be analogous to music sampling because in fact legal music sampling is nothing like plagarism- works are cited, permission is requested and granted and often a considerable sum of money or share of future earnings takes place.

Re:No. (1)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 4 years ago | (#31120922)

Just compare I Want A New Drug [youtube.com] and Ghostbusters [youtube.com] and then look into the legal processes around that.

Re:No. (1)

introspekt.i (1233118) | more than 4 years ago | (#31120314)

My high school did a lot of the same things, but that's not to say that sometimes the overhead that goes into documenting things "properly" can sometimes approach the effort it took to create a new work. In science and non-fiction, this might be necessary as it goes to show how a work fits into the "greater knowledge" of a field and thus the "greater knowledge" of humanity (or something >_ ), however, in creative works I don't know if this really is as important. I think what constitutes plagiarism in creative works is highly contextual. How are the samples used? Why are the samples used? Are the samples' original intent employed, or are they used as sort of a pun, added rhythm, or a new twist on the original creation? In music you have groups that make music by sampling all kinds of other creative works (Beastie Boys [hey, I listen to them, I admit it]) for their own devices. However, simply copy pasting other works in hopes to piggy back off the success of the original work and author is probably seen as an unacceptable practice to most. I think it all really depends on the work, with respect to fiction and other creative works; probably not so much in science and non-fiction.

Re:No. (1)

whogben (919335) | more than 4 years ago | (#31120324)

Let me give an example with musical sampling - it's totally different with bands like Girl Talk who sample music to create new pieces - because Girl Talk doesn't claim to have made the samples. One of the aspects of why plagiarism is seen as wrong is because you're taking credit for someone else's work. When you're sampling music, you're crediting them. From the perspective of a first reader it makes no difference - someone copying someone else's words into a paper they're writing is invisible & the work still exists on it's own. A work exists on its own, and broken down is always recombinations of other things - but it's someone taking credit for it for gain that's the unethical bit. Kids who sample music don't usually have to credit the sample for a listener to distinguish it, so it's a totally different piece. PS: Anyone watch Californication? Were those episodes written and aired before this whole thing?

Re:No. (1)

DavidR1991 (1047748) | more than 4 years ago | (#31120348)

Agreed with OP + Not to the mention the fact that often (but not always) samples are used in a starting point and end up completely unrecognisable / different-sounding in the final product (NIN songs are a good example of this, they sample literally tons of things and are normally distorted to the point where they're not even anything like the original material)

Re:No. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31120450)

The difference between bands like Girl Talk who sample music to create new pieces, and someone copying someone else's words into a paper they're writing, is that Girl Talk doesn't claim to have made the samples. One of the aspects of why plagiarism is seen as wrong is because you're taking credit for someone else's work. When you're sampling music, you're crediting them.

Re:No. (5, Insightful)

crimsonshdw (1070988) | more than 4 years ago | (#31120532)

We have sampling in literature already. It's called citation and quotation. Helene Hegemann took someone else's work and presented it as her own, which I find disingenuous. Had she come out when she released the book and said she "collaged" works for the book that would have been one thing. That concept would have made for an interesting critique on a different media for "mash-ups". I do not personally view what she did as mixing and expanding upon an idea in the same concept of a mashup because she lacked the openness to express what her intention was. pwnies really sums up my opinion, with an excellent point of reference (Girl Talk).

Re:No. (4, Insightful)

davecb (6526) | more than 4 years ago | (#31120624)

Indeed: in writing, one commonly samples other people's work using a moderately well-known process called "quoting". I'm mildly surprised she hasn't heard of it.

In quoting, one marks the material quoted with either in-line or block quotes, and lists the source, usually at the bottom of the page in something called a "footnote" (;-))

--dave

Re:No. (1)

blahplusplus (757119) | more than 4 years ago | (#31120684)

Let is remember also that information is non-rivalrous, thank god no one can copyright all frequencies of sound, light, etc.

Everything in the end is just remixed bits of the natural world which no one created.

Re:No. (1)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 4 years ago | (#31120834)

And even when you are sampling music it usually makes you realize that the original was better.

But when writing a book, sampling has occurred before, but then usually mostly in the form of short quotes from other sources. To pick large sections of a story is another issue, but it's nothing new.

And one striking section is when you read The Last Castle [amazon.com] by Jack Vance, and then Kirlian Quest [amazon.com] by Piers Anthony. They do share a section that is very similar in plot and performance. (I leave it up to the reader to find it...)

But if it in that case was "sampling" or if it was a joint work on that section by the two authors is another question.

Re:No. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31120864)

Sampling would be someone copying someone else's words into a paper they're writing, or otherwise adding some music/lyrics of their own over sampled sounds. The Verve's Bittersweet Symphony is a good example of simply copy pasting other works in hopes to piggy back off the success of the original work. It's more a question of whether their use of the sample was so extensive as the Beastie Boys [hey, I listen to them, I admit it]), because broken down is always recombinations of other things. Girl Talk doesn't claim to have made the samples, and Helene Hegemann took someone else's work and presented it as her own, which I find disingenuous.

Not to the mention the fact that often (but not always) samples are used in a starting point and end up completely unrecognisable / different-sounding, thank god no one can copyright all frequencies of sound, light, etc.

Re:No. (3, Insightful)

pz (113803) | more than 4 years ago | (#31120866)

The difference between bands like Girl Talk who sample music to create new pieces, and someone copying someone else's words into a paper they're writing, is that Girl Talk doesn't claim to have made the samples. One of the aspects of why plagiarism is seen as wrong is because you're taking credit for someone else's work. When you're sampling music, you're crediting them.

Agreed. Often, sampled sounds are clearly recognizable as they are intended to bring an association from the original material: take something everyone knows, twist it, shuffle with other sounds, and make something new. The artists are not trying to hide the origin of their samples, but paying homage to them. Indeed, there is a long-standing history of one artist performing works by another, adding their own touch to the music. Furthermore, when that happens and the second artist makes money at it (sometimes even when they don't), they have to pay royalties to the first artist.

Unattributed lifting without manipulation is not the same. Didn't we just have an article earlier today about cheating in CS classes at Stanford? It's not just illegal, it's unethical.

Re:No. (1)

Normal Dan (1053064) | more than 4 years ago | (#31120924)

That is a very good point. Sampling would be taking a short section of text and putting using in quotes, or otherwise acknowledging in your work that you are using something that someone else wrote.

If you sample music to make your own song, you'd better credit properly and pay or else the original songwriter will end up owning your song. The Verve's Bittersweet Symphony is a classic example of that. The music behind the band is a remix of The Rolling Stone's "You Can't Always Get What You Want" and since they didn't license and credit that, The Stones now get 100% of the royalty payments for that song.

However,
In the United States, since 1991, the date of Grand Upright Music, Ltd v. Warner Bros. Records Inc., [wikipedia.org] music samples need to be cleared by the copyright holder. That's what seems to be the real distinction here- you cannot consider literary plagarism to be analogous to music sampling because in fact legal music sampling is nothing like plagarism- works are cited, permission is requested and granted and often a considerable sum of money or share of future earnings takes place.

Let is remember also that information is non-rivalrous, thank god no one can copyright all frequencies of sound, light, etc.
Everything in the end is just remixed bits of the natural world which no one created.

No. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31120178)

 

Re:No. (1)

Antony-Kyre (807195) | more than 4 years ago | (#31120474)

Please tell me I'm not the only one seeing a blank post concerning the parent.

Re:No. (3, Funny)

rarel (697734) | more than 4 years ago | (#31120502)

No.

Re:No. (1)

EvanED (569694) | more than 4 years ago | (#31120582)

You plagiarized the OP's post title as your post's body! You monster!

Select the "blank text"... (0)

IANAAC (692242) | more than 4 years ago | (#31120574)

and you'll see it's not blank.

Re:Select the "blank text"... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31120692)

It was generating by typing:

<p>
&nbsp; </p>

You can see that by hitting the "Quote Parent" button.

Yes (1)

iamhassi (659463) | more than 4 years ago | (#31120918)

Yes, this is a new generation where it's ok to copy someone's work and sell it as your own and not credit the creator or give them any of the proceeds. How is this not fair? I think someone should receive my paycheck too and take credit for the work I did.

/sarcasm

obviously she's a child who has never worked before. scary part is she believes her entire generation thinks this is acceptable. No doubt she believes pirating is fine. Wonder if she'd mind if we all stole her book?

She must not have taken high school classes yet... (1)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 4 years ago | (#31120198)

In my years at high school in the late 90s, they showed all of the forms of documentation standards to properly credit research. With services like TurnItIn.com all the rage in academia the risk of being labeled a cheater for using a sentence that has already been written by somebody else has gone way up. This is a case where the "child prodigy" is just somebody who hasn't learned the rules of the world yet.

Re:She must not have taken high school classes yet (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31120464)

As a matter of fact, she quit school at 14 years old. There's still no excuse for the deed, her father being a literature professor after all (the reason why she got book deal in the first place..).

Re:She must not have taken high school classes yet (1)

Shadow of Eternity (795165) | more than 4 years ago | (#31120472)

Correction: With businesses like TurnItIn.com all the rage in academia the risk of being labelled a cheater at all approaches 100%.

Turnitin and its ilk are businesses first and foremost. As long as plagiarism rates remain high business is good, and since they control the reported amount of plagiarism and there is no possible defense against an accusation by their system there will always be a high rate of plagiarism.

Re:She must not have taken high school classes yet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31120496)

Just wait until she gets to university, especially if she gets involved in any graduate research. Then she'll really find out how research credits work in the real world. She'll be the one busting ass and doing the research, while her supervising professors will just stick their names on her papers.

Re:She must not have taken high school classes yet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31120632)

"Bad artists copy. Great artists steal." -Picasso.

In a way it is understandable (1)

mikael_j (106439) | more than 4 years ago | (#31120206)

It seems that today we are exposed to a lot more sources of information and ideas and the amount of raw "data" per source is both smaller than it used to be (blogs, twitter, irc, podcasts, etc.) while at the same time larger ("Hey, this snippet of text from $AUTHOR was pretty good, I wonder what I can find about him on Google/Wikipedia...").

If you were writing a book back in say, 1950, you would have to base it a lot more on your own experiences in the "physical"/"real" world while today you would probably use the internet and other media sources to aid your creativity to a larger degree.

/Mikael

Whee (4, Funny)

mewsenews (251487) | more than 4 years ago | (#31120212)

Hello, kdawson.

Have we entered a new era where plagiarism is not just tolerated, but seen as normal?

No.

Is this the ultimate in cynicism, or is it simply a brash attempt to get away with something now that she's been caught?

Who cares?

Is her claim to legitimacy compromised by the fact that she only admitted it after it was discovered by someone else?

Yes.

And finally, if 'sampling' is not acceptable in literature, is this reason to rethink the legitimacy of musical sampling?

No.

I might read the article next time.

Re:Whee (1)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 4 years ago | (#31120310)

Yep.. Report to Oprah and cry... your story has wound up in "A Million Little Pieces".

Re:Whee (1)

Stargoat (658863) | more than 4 years ago | (#31120356)

This makes me wish I had mod points.

Re:Whee (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 4 years ago | (#31120430)

On that last question, I disagree strongly. Books or music, there is a line between fair use and plagiarism. "Sampling" in popular music has definitely gone over that line.

Sure... certain parts (generally small parts) can be sampled or "borrowed", and still be legitimate. But when you take people like Kid Rock for example, and listen to him outright take someone else's music -- with hardly a single change -- and then add lyrics of his own, that is not Fair Use, that is plagiarism. It is nothing but capitalizing on the talents of others when you have none of your own. And don't misunderstand me: I actually like Kid Rock's stuff. The problem is that it's really NOT "his" stuff. I think he should be in prison, not on album covers.

And it's a doubly egregious offense because he has done it with the express intent to make a profit.

Other people in the past have had the pants sued off of them, successfully, for "borrowing" a hell of a lot less than Kid Rock does. Time to call him (and others) on it.

Re:Whee (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31120782)

>I actually like Kid Rock's stuff.

Stopped taking your opinion seriously right here.

Re:Whee (1)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 4 years ago | (#31120878)

But when you take people like Kid Rock for example, and listen to him outright take someone else's music -- with hardly a single change -- and then add lyrics of his own, that is not Fair Use, that is plagiarism

Weird Al does it better.

Re:Whee (1)

dougisfunny (1200171) | more than 4 years ago | (#31120882)

How bout Weird Al?

Avoiding subconscious plagiarism? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#31120894)

So if I write my own song, how do I know whether I have subconsciously plagiarized someone else's song? George Harrison got in trouble for this (see Bright Tunes Music v. Harrisongs Music about "My Sweet Lord"), and so did Michael Bolton (see Three Boys Music v. Michael Bolton).

Re:Whee (3, Funny)

pz (113803) | more than 4 years ago | (#31120968)

Hello, kdawson.

Have we entered a new era where plagiarism is not just tolerated, but seen as normal?

Note to self: stop reading Slashdot when kdawson is editing because the signal-to-silliness goes to hell.

Definitely Not (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 4 years ago | (#31120252)

I don't care if it's "a new generation". In the past, "new generations" did not claim they could rob or steal just because they feel like it, either.

Not that plagiarism or copyright infringement is stealing... I know the difference and why the law treats them differently. But that was the closest thing that came to mind just now.

This "new generation" needs to wise the f* up and learn the difference between Fair Use and just plain plagiarizing someone else's work. If they don't, everybody else will end up coming down on them like a ton of bricks.

If they don't like the copyright laws, then get them changed to something more reasonable (something I would like to see, as well). But just pretending they don't exist is not going to work.

Re:Definitely Not (2, Interesting)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 4 years ago | (#31120420)

It depends on how you define plagiarism. At the university I attended, making a mistake in the format of your references was considered plagiarism. I wouldn't personally hold anyone to that high if a standard. Did she originally claim complete ownership and provide no references or sources at all? Then yes, by any definition plagiarism and absolutely unquestionable wrong.

Re:Definitely Not (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 4 years ago | (#31120540)

It's not just that. According to the law, work in education and academics actually does not have to abide by the standards that people outside that world do... Fair Use is actually expanded somewhat for educational purposes.

But it's not just listing the reference, but also the amount of the work that is "borrowed" that determines infringement. Using whole pages, even with references, might qualify as infringement all by itself. Much depends on the circumstances... but much does not.

Re:Definitely Not (1)

EvanED (569694) | more than 4 years ago | (#31120666)

But it's not just listing the reference, but also the amount of the work that is "borrowed" that determines infringement. Using whole pages, even with references, might qualify as infringement all by itself.

The real problem is that you're confusing (perhaps knowingly, but confusing nonetheless) copyright infringement and plagiarism. Using whole pages with properly attributed references might qualify as infringement -- but would never be plagiarism (or at least should never be, or you're using a broken definition IMO).

Re:Definitely Not (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 4 years ago | (#31120816)

Well, I did not actually confuse the two but I did mention them together in a way that could be misunderstood. Point taken.

Re:Definitely Not (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 4 years ago | (#31120796)

No, plagiarism is not the same as copyright infringement. They're related, but orthogonal. You can quote any amount of text and not be plagiarizing as long as it's quoted and attributed. Using whole pages might be copyright infringement, and there might be so little of your own work that it's not really a unique paper any more, but you're ok on plagiarism as long as you don't claim it's your own.

Childish (5, Interesting)

robmarms (1249924) | more than 4 years ago | (#31120260)

Artists who sample should always give the original artist credit... This is a childish attempt to explain, or rather justify, a wrong AFTER the fact.

It's sad that some people think this is okay (1)

ip_freely_2000 (577249) | more than 4 years ago | (#31120266)

Her generation grew up sampling from other sources -- and I've always felt that was a result of a weak and uncreative person. I wonder where is the line when sampling becomes copying. In any event, I hope that the people being stolen from are being compensated ( but I doubt it ).

Re:It's sad that some people think this is okay (1)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 4 years ago | (#31120768)

Have you read Free Culture [wikipedia.org] ? It might change your perspective on how "owned" our cultural treasures should be.

Also this kind of sampling is rather common in literature. I'm not sure how extensive her plagiarism was, but a large proportion of The Waste Land [wikipedia.org] for example is pieced together from other writings..

Re:It's sad that some people think this is okay (1)

SkunkPussy (85271) | more than 4 years ago | (#31120804)

Would you also say that if you are building a house, you should construct all the bricks yourself - otherwise you're a poor and unskilled builder?

If you are a writer, should you invent all the words yourself, otherwise you're a weak writer?

There are entire genres of music that have sprung up based upon sampling the drum beat out of ONE SONG from 40 years ago (c.f. Amen Break).

Isaac Newton is said to have made a comment about how he only achieved what he achieved by standing on the shoulders of giants.

I Just Can't Agree With This (1)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#31120286)

First off, I'm 27. No clue if I'm therefore a member of her generation or not. But anyway, I do recognize a move towards a slough of progressive distribution models of information. I think the public domain is underrated and I would like to see copyright length dialed down a year or thirty. I don't think it should be completely abolished anytime in the near future.

I also feel like writers should be rewarded with incentives for their work. If her anything goes usage attitude was applied to me I would simply make a character with my name and pick up all my favorite sci-fi books and write glue to transport the character from one favorite scene to another in each of the books. I'd publish it and get all the proceeds. But that wouldn't be fair if all I did was write crappy glue to string the stories together. I should make pennies on the sale with the rest of the cash appropriately divided up to the real authors who did the real writing. I'm not a sampling artist but the ones that do get permission in music I believe settle up with the owner of that copyrighted work first.

I guess she lives in Germany so things might go differently for her. But in the United States, if you commit a crime as an act of art, you are still charged for the crime. Murder someone and string their body parts on a Christmas tree to represent the commercialization of Christmas? You're going to be tried for murder.

Something of curious note to me is that she's 17. In our code of law, I believe her record would be expunged when she's 18, not sure how it works in Germany. So maybe she's taking this hit now to generate publicity knowing full well it won't stick on her. Who knows? I think it's a shame that she didn't get permission and I hope the other authors are given a reasonable royalty rate on her sales.

Re:I Just Can't Agree With This (2, Insightful)

BaronHethorSamedi (970820) | more than 4 years ago | (#31120498)

Expungement of a record wouldn't really be an issue--she hasn't committed a crime. In U.S. copyright parlance, she may have infringed copyright, but that's a civil matter that doesn't entail the creation of a criminal record.

I agree entirely that she should have sought permission from the authors whose work she was cribbing. The article indicates she lifted an entire page from someone's else's work with only minor changes. The authors whose works were use without permission ought to sue, and if Hegemann's half as smart as the article makes her out to be, she ought to settle up. The whole "this is what my generation does" schtick is not a new excuse for artistic laziness, but it does seem to be gaining some unfortunate traction here. I'm amazed the book prize committee even gave her a second look, much less a finalist spot, with full knowledge that she'd failed to attribute her sources.

Re:I Just Can't Agree With This (3, Insightful)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 4 years ago | (#31120554)

Well I guess I am not from her Generation but sampling started when I was in my early 20s. If done correctly in music it is like a collage and it is a new piece of art.
When done wrong it is theft.
I am thinking of Ice Ice Baby as a good example of done wrong.
In this books case I would say it is theft from the story "In one case, an entire page was lifted with few changes."
Dude that isn't sampling that is a cover!

Or to put another way. Every generation at 17 thinks that the world is a totally different place from the one their parents lived in. By the time we hit 35 we all start to think man it probably really wasn't. And at 40 we all start saying What the hell where we thinking when we where 17. What idiots we where but it sure was fun.
So no she is just another dumb 17 year old that thinks the rules don't apply anymore because things are so different.

Sampling Your Dinner (0)

handy_vandal (606174) | more than 4 years ago | (#31120292)

First, you eat a delicious steak dinner. Then I'll take a steak knife, carve a sirloin off your body, and enjoy a deliciously sampled steak dinner. Like secondhand smoke, but entirely voluntary.

Re:Sampling Your Dinner (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31120590)

First, you eat a delicious steak dinner. Then I'll take a steak knife, carve a sirloin off your body, and enjoy a deliciously sampled steak dinner. Like secondhand smoke, but entirely voluntary.

Re:Sampling Your Dinner (1)

handy_vandal (606174) | more than 4 years ago | (#31120826)

Made me chuckle -- you smug bastard.

Depends (1)

DaMattster (977781) | more than 4 years ago | (#31120322)

It really depends upon which side of the fence you are on and which party stands to make or lose the most amount of money. If you side with RIAA or a Publisher, sampling might be an absolute no-no. If you are the artist and your ideas are being used to create new ones, this could be a form of homage to your talent. A Zen master once said, "Immitation is the sincerest form of flattery." Dave Matthews would most likely encourage this.

Re:Depends (1)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 4 years ago | (#31120422)

We're to the point where nearly all four-note combinations are under copyright, and therefore it's hard to write an "original" song without having to pay somebody else for the rights.

 

Re:Depends (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 4 years ago | (#31120736)

That's just nonsense. The fact that a 4-note sequence is under copyright doesn't necessarily mean that you can't use it legally. There are standards, such as "orginality". a 40note sequence would probably not be judged "original" enough to be covered by the copyright, in the same way that a couple of common chords would not be protected, if someone else wanted to use them.

But if you were to copy something of much more length, such as a complete rhythm or background, you might be infringing.

For example, the distinctive 9-note bass line behind "play that funky music" would likely be protected by copyright (even though it has been "sampled" already), because it is very unlikely that anybody else would come up with exactly that same combination by themselves accidentally, which makes it an "original work". If I were the originator, I would sue the sampler.

Re:Depends (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 4 years ago | (#31120774)

Damn typo. That first part should have been "4-note sequence", not 40note.

Re:Depends (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 4 years ago | (#31120630)

There is still a limit as to how far sampling can go, and I have experienced quite a few instances of "sampling" that were very clearly over the legal line.

Even if 100 artists agree with you, I have no doubt whatever that I could find, with little effort, 1,000 who do not.

Nonsense (3, Insightful)

symes (835608) | more than 4 years ago | (#31120342)

She claims that she is part of a new generation that has grown up with mixing and sampling in all media, including music and art, and this is legitimate in modern culture

If she said that upfront - before all this blew up... then perhaps she might have a legitimate point. But after the fact is smacks of ignorance, laziness and a protozoan intellect pretending to be great.

Re:Nonsense (1)

sckeener (137243) | more than 4 years ago | (#31120800)

Also it doesn't make sense. In music, sounds are variations on each other with a few power cords tossed into the mix. The supreme court limited it to (I believe 8 seconds.) To compare that to language would be to use a simplified dictionary and then use only derivatives of those words. Any large sections would not be usable because complex thoughts could not be conveyed. Plagiarizing a literary sample should consist of say a sentence, not entire passages.

Plagiarism and copyright violation (5, Insightful)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | more than 4 years ago | (#31120372)

As someone who is only slightly older than she is. Yes, this is plagiarism. I'm TAing now and if a student handed in something like this we'd fail her. No question. They might even go in front of a disciplinary committee and certainly would if this were not the first time.

This is also a gross abuse of copyright. I'm not talking about the evil "oh this has been copyrighted for 70s years" copyright, or even using copyright for non-commercial uses. This is classic copyright violation for her own commercial use. That's precisely what sensible copyrights prevent you from copying. And it isn't like these are short enough passages that there's even any real remixing but rather long sections and the like.

The fact that she didn't acknowledge the sources makes the whole thing all the more egregious and shows that she really probably knew what she was doing was wrong. If not, she was so ignorant that it didn't occur to her that this might be a problem. Either way, it is deeply unimpressive.

Re:Plagiarism and copyright violation (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 4 years ago | (#31120746)

I knew this poet. His work consisted of snippets from newspapers rearranged into a poem.

Since this was the point, there was certainly no deceit involved. Nobody even raised the question as to whether this was unoriginal. It was original. He rearranged a limited amount of work in a new and totally different way. So it's quite possible not only to use other people's words, but to use entirely other people's words and not be considered to be stealing.

I realise this girl wasn't doing that. I merely point out that this sort of thing can be done legitimately.

Re:Plagiarism and copyright violation (1)

VoiceInTheDesert (1613565) | more than 4 years ago | (#31120856)

Exactly. If you get thrown out of college for it, it's probably not legit.

Sampling acknowledges the original author. In music, it can be using a riff in the background of your song with a nod in the credits of your album. In literature, it's called "citing your source." If you don't cite, it's plaigarism. Furthermore, this is fiction, not a research paper where citing would be needed. We already have a catagory for writers who "sample" fiction from other sources, it's called "fan fiction," and no one gets paid for it because if they did, it would be copyright infringement.

This makes me really angry because it's just the kind of disrepect that my generation seems to be inidated with towards anyone but their own interests. You do NOT steal people's work and pass it off as your own. What a lazy bitch.

wait, what's the problem? (4, Funny)

drDugan (219551) | more than 4 years ago | (#31120378)

Helene Hegemann's first book has been moving up the best-seller list in
Germany and is a finalist for a major book prize. While originally this
was notable because Hegemann is only 17 and this is her first book, and
so earned praise as a prodigy, what's interesting now about this story
is that she has been caught plagiarizing many passages in the book.
Amazingly, she has not denied it, but instead claims there is nothing
wrong with it. She claims that she is part of a new generation that has
grown up with mixing and sampling in all media [nytimes.com] , including music and art,
and this is legitimate in modern culture. Have we entered a new era where
plagiarism is not just tolerated, but seen as normal? Is this the
ultimate in cynicism, or is it simply a brash attempt to get away with
something now that she's been caught? Is her claim to legitimacy
compromised by the fact that she only admitted it after it was
discovered by someone else? And finally, if 'sampling' is not acceptable
in literature, is this reason to rethink the legitimacy of musical
sampling?

Re:wait, what's the problem? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31120480)

HA HA HA HA HA that's hilarious.

Not right ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31120398)

But not entirely wrong either. I don't know where the limit is, but I was taught that it was five consequent words, which is ridiculous really, especially today when everyone is writing stuff up and the worst cases are building huge databases against which to check new works.

I doubt none of my works/assignments would have passed the five word rule.

Good grief, (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31120440)

nothing is really original anymore. When you have a planet with a population of nearly 7 billion -- it is fairly easy for me to claim that 99.999% of everything written, said, or done today, has been done by someone else in the past: including music.

Even mathematics is full of stories where there is more than one inventor, who claimed that they developed ideas independently.

If the offense is blatant copy-infringement, and contributes more than an insignificant impact to the copied works, then let a judge determine a financial penalty.

crazy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31120452)

Imagine how crazy the world would be if you couldn't copy ideas... Oh wait.

Some thoughts on this (4, Funny)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 4 years ago | (#31120456)

Have we entered a new era where plagiarism is not just tolerated, but seen as normal?

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times; it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness; it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity; it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness; it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair; we had everything before us, we had nothing before us; we were all going directly to Heaven, we were all going the other way.

Re:Some thoughts on this (1)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 4 years ago | (#31120778)

Methinks the lady doth protest too much, however I feel that now may be the winter of her discontent....

Re:Some thoughts on this (1)

Digero (974682) | more than 4 years ago | (#31120890)

Wow! Very eloquent, Quiet_Desperation. You should be an author.

Re:Some thoughts on this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31120932)

chaka, when the walls fell...

From the article... (2, Insightful)

GPLDAN (732269) | more than 4 years ago | (#31120486)

Deef Pirmasens, the blogger who discovered the passages taken from “Strobo,” said that he could understand a few words or phrases seeping into the work through inspiration, but that he quickly noticed that there were too many for it to be a coincidence. “To take an entire page from an author, as Helene Hegemann admitted to doing, with only slight changes and without asking the author, I consider that illegitimate,” Mr. Pirmasens said.


Entire pages verbatim? She is the Vanilla Ice of literature sampling then.

Generating sales for the plagiarized book (1)

NiteMair (309303) | more than 4 years ago | (#31120500)

As stated in the article, the whole controversy is also generating sales for the lesser-known "Strobo" book that was allegedly plagiarized. That can't be a bad thing.

http://www.amazon.de/Axolotl-Roadkill-Helene-Hegemann/dp/3550087926/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1266012743&sr=8-1 [amazon.de]

Still waiting for copyright enforcement advocates to realize that copyright infringement isn't always a bad thing.

Re:Generating sales for the plagiarized book (1)

Microlith (54737) | more than 4 years ago | (#31120764)

And if the controversy hadn't broken and no one had uncovered that she lifted the text, would those sales still have been generated or would people just have assumed that page, like (most of?) the rest, were her words?

Re:Generating sales for the plagiarized book (1)

Tezcat (927703) | more than 4 years ago | (#31120880)

As stated in the article, the whole controversy is also generating sales for the lesser-known "Strobo" book that was allegedly plagiarized. That can't be a bad thing. http://www.amazon.de/Axolotl-Roadkill-Helene-Hegemann/dp/3550087926/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1266012743&sr=8-1 [amazon.de] Still waiting for copyright enforcement advocates to realize that copyright infringement isn't always a bad thing.

The scandal is generating sales. If there was no scandal, if she had got away with it, the original copyright holder would not be profiting at all, while the plagiariser raked it in.

Hideous (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31120522)

yeah, I'm going to take 30 seconds of a Bowie song, 30 seconds of a Beatles song, and 30 seconds of a Led Zeppelin song, string them together, and call it a new work.

Stop "sampling" my work! (2, Funny)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 4 years ago | (#31120524)

Hey you! Stop "sampling" my work. I own the rights to ALL those words, and all the remixes, you thieves!

signed: Daniel Webster

Re:Stop "sampling" my work! (1)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | more than 4 years ago | (#31120732)

Funny but 1) Daniel Webster is long dead and not under copyright (the author has taken material from living people whose books are still available for sale) 2) Webster compiled information about how words were used. He'd have no copyright of the words. It isn't actually obviously clear if even his dictionary would have been copyrightable under modern copyright laws. See for example Feist v. Rural Telephone - (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feist_Publications_v._Rural_Telephone_Service [wikipedia.org] or for those who want the actual case http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=US&vol=499&invol=340 [findlaw.com] which says essentially that copyrights can't apply simply to compilations of existing information but must have some originality to them. (The original case in question dealt with whether or not a phone directory was copyrightable). This is actually an area where modern copyrights might actually be too lenient about what is copyrighted (Seriously. Really. Stop laughing. Stop. Please. I mean it.) And in fact some countries other than the US use a test that measures effort not originality. For a dictionary, the concise definitions might be copyrightable. Maybe. But that's it.

Re:Stop "sampling" my work! (1)

qqqlo (1191709) | more than 4 years ago | (#31120852)

What, like these [dartmouth.edu] ?

This is well established, it's called "quoting" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31120642)

We already have a well developed system for sampling other peoples works in literature, it's called "quoting". It ideally establishes that the material is quoted by indenting it or wrapping it in "quote" marks and you can even reference where it came from. This is not rocket science.

Is it just me? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31120650)

Is it just me, or does the requirement that I cite my source seem like a social convention that is open to debate?

Jefferson and Madison certainly thought so. Jefferson originally argued against copyright altogether. When Madison convinced him that it was a necessary legitimacy in order to promote commerce and ensure economic stability, he reinspected his philosophy. Having done so, he advocated for a copyright term of half the average lifespan of the contemporary population. He claimed this was adequate to ensure that an author would profit from his effort without impinging on the next generation's ability to do so as well.

It took Sonny Bono and the interests of an 800 pound Californian mouse to extend the copyright term to its current, life of the author plus 50 years, or 75 years for a work of corporate authorship. See: Bono's Copyright Term Extension Act [wikipedia.org]

Hey, what happened to equal rights for people, Sonny!! (Wonder if Cher got any of his campaign contributions...)

Good argument against copyright . . . (1)

wrencherd (865833) | more than 4 years ago | (#31120676)

. . . protection.

Of course, the end of such protection would radically reduce the power of publication houses to create "prodigies" purely as a matter of marketing (as is the case of "Helena-Montana" here and her ilk), thereby rendering the little pup's comments as irrelevant as her prose.

It's a matter of degree (1)

l2718 (514756) | more than 4 years ago | (#31120712)

Art has always built on ideas and elements from the work of previous artists. Mozart's first four piano concertos are arrangements of piano solo movements written by other composers. Liszt arranged Beethoven's symphonies for piano solo and two pianos. Most of Shakespeare's plots and characters are not original. Rachmaninov wrote a famous "Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini". Beethoven's "Wellington" Symphony incorporates "God save the King". The cover art to Terry Pratchett's book "Night Watch" adapts Rembrandt's famous painting. Card's "Alvin Gentry" series retells the story of the Book of Mormon.

The question has always been one of degree and certainly has been culturally dependent. What was acceptable for Mozart (republishing work by others as his own) wasn't acceptable for Liszt (his piano arrangements were published as such, not as entirely original pieces). Was is acceptable for Disney (adapting Stevenson's book "Treasure Island" to a live-action film) isn't acceptable for you and me (adapting Disney's "Toy Story" into a book).

With regard to the case at hand, you'd have to see how much of the work is adapted, and whether this kind of adaptation is normal for the relevant genre.

Works Cited (1)

rxan (1424721) | more than 4 years ago | (#31120722)

If it's not there, you plagiarized.

Wow... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31120942)

It's like Deja Vu... all over again!

Limitations of the medium (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#31120988)

It's not always practicable to include full attribution. When a song that uses a sample under license is played on the radio, the DJ doesn't list all the samples.

Well, it isn't really sampling (1)

novakom (1667041) | more than 4 years ago | (#31120730)

I think a key difference here is in music sampling, you generally take a beat or a riff or something and then do something with it to make it your own. Your average sampled song these days is not just clips of different songs strung together, it tends to be different components of different songs combined together in some (relatively) new way. Whereas it isn't like you can sample the "beat" of a book, fiction or non-fiction. What she did is like splicing 3 songs together without modifying them at all; that, I'm sure, wouldn't be considering sampling, more ripping off. So at first blush no, not really cool.

With that said, all literature borrows, more or less, from things that came before - various insights, ideas, subplots, writing styles, etc. The fact that this girl recombined existing pieces of literature to create something more or less new is, abstractly at least, close to how any book is written. The difference is that she was just more blatant about it. I don't think we can deny the fact that recombination of existing work (direct or indirect) is a common (if not dominant) method for creating new art-of any medium-these days, and as long as she only claims credit for the recombination, not the source material, then I can't really fault her or the method. You can knock her for not being creative and original, but that's like complaining a clip show (see:VH1) isn't creative or original. It's not, but it's entertaining, it can be commercially viable, and the combination does tend to bring to light ideas that might not have been obvious prior to composing the elements.

Regardless, the key point is if she (or anyone like her) claims credit for the original elements. If so, that's not cool. If not, then it's nothing new and I don't particularly care.

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