Plagiarism in the News

Writers duel over a recent novel.

Plagiarism doesn't just affect students and their professors. It can also impact politicians, musicians, and writers, among others. A recent example is the lawsuits surrounding a former New York Times bestseller, "The Girls." Written by Emma Cline and published in June of 2016, the book spent 12 weeks on the bestseller list.

However, CBS News reports that Cline's former boyfriend, Chaz Reetz-Laiolo, believes that portions of the book are based on his own writing. Reetz-Laiolo alleges that Cline utilized spyware to access his computer and email and used this information to write her novel. Both authors have filed lawsuits in federal court to address the situation.

Supporting Web Links
 Discussion Questions/Activities
  1. This article provides a good opportunity to discuss copyright, intellectual property, and plagiarism. It may also be a good time to discuss the ways that plagiarism can affect students in the classroom. What are your rules about plagiarism? How does your institution handle instances of plagiarism?
  2. As a class, locate a recent example of plagiarism - you might select one of the articles from the Supporting WebI Links section, or find another example.In many instances, plagiarism is not a black-and-white case. Divide the class into two groups to debate the plagiarism case in the selected article. Give each group time to research their position, then reconvene to hold the debate. 
  3. As an individual project, ask students to research instances of accidental or unintentional plagiarism. Students should also research best practices for writing and research that will help them to avoid this type of plagiarism. Students should create a presentation or write a brief report.

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