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August 5, 2010
Remix Age Youth and Plagiarism
A story in the New York Times from earlier this week examines the challenges of defining and educating around plagiarism for remix-culture youth. Trip Gabriel's story notes that what we might call inadvertent plagiarism is on the rise - students copy material that has no obvious author and don't feel they've done anything wrong.
An interesting point about this is that it's not another "copying is bad" story; it's a hint that we as a society may be moving to a different social model of authorship. The vast majority of plagiarism still is done by people who know it's wrong and who ought to know better, and to have been trained better. But there's also the sense, put forward in this story by ethnographer Susan Blum of Notre Dame, that some people are copying in texts in much the same way as they mash up, or in the way that songs and television shows reference each other. The standards for ownership and credit may be seen differently and students may not feel that what they're quoting is attributable material. After all, who is the author of a Wikipedia article?
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