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“Something Borrowed: Should a charge of plagiarism ruin your life?” By Malcolm Gladwell
An article from The New Yorker, “Something Borrowed: Should a charge of plagiarism ruin your life?” by Malcolm Gladwell, answers the question of how to distinguish between plagiarism and creativity. The author starts with a real story about plagiarism charge. After knowing more information behind the borrowing, the author discovers the judge point between plagiarism and creativity. The borrowing is not a plagiarism. In the opening scene, a psychiatrist Dorothy Lewis starts to get calls from her friends, who recommend a Broadway play “Frozen” to her. After knowing that one character in the play is a psychiatrist studying serial killers, the same vocation as her, Lewis doesn't want to see “Frozen.” Somehow Lewis gets the script and starts to read it. Then she realizes the reason that so many friends are recommending the play is because the play is indeed about her life. Lewis feels that Bryony Lavery, the British dramatist of “Frozen,” steals her life from her memoir “Guilty by Reason of Insanity” and plagiarizes words from her profile “Dammaged” written by Malcolm Gladwell. So Lewis considers a charge of plagiarism against Lavery. “Words belong to the person who wrote them,” Gladwell writes. With copyright laws and intellectual property protection reinforced in the past thirty years, plagiarism is not only a bad literary behavior, but also a legal issue. Gladwell recalls his visits to Lewis and his writing in “Damaged” back in the fall of 1996. Quite a few passages have been exactly copied into “Frozen,” and then Gladwell sends a letter to Lavery questioning the plagiarism. However, after reading the script, Gladwell feels that “Frozen” is talented. He starts to doubt the plagiarism charge suggested by Lewis. Galdwell uses two music lawsuits of the past to understand the core of copyright law. Gladwell writes, “At its core is the notion that there are...
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