11 September 2012

Copying the Sotto Way

After he was accused of copying exactly the words that Sarah Pope used in her blog, Senator Vicente "Tito" Sotto III is again in the limelight for allegedly copying and translating in Tagalog the exact words former US Present Robert F. Kennedy used in his speech last 6 June 1966.

Maybe his speechwriter and the good Senator are not aware that as representative of the people, lawmakers are expected to do their work diligently and to properly acknowledge their sources of information wherever it came from.

To avoid further blunder, it is advisable for Senator Sotto and his staff to have a refresher’s course on plagiarism. Plagiarism is not only as simple as copying another's work, or borrowing someone else's original ideas because like "copying" and "borrowing" can disguise the seriousness of the offense:

According to the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary (I'm using 'according to ...' as an example of attribution, Senator Sotto), to "plagiarize" means
  • to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one's own
  • to use (another's production) without crediting the source
  • to commit literary theft
  • to present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source.
In other words, plagiarism is an act of fraud. It involves both stealing someone else's work and lying about it afterward.

But can words and ideas really be stolen?

According to U.S. law (again Senator Sotto, I'm using 'according to ...'), the answer is yes. The expression of original ideas is considered intellectual property, and is protected by copyright laws, just like original inventions. Almost all forms of expression fall under copyright protection as long as they are recorded in some way (such as a book or a computer file).
Sotto-Kennedy Comparison