Plagiarizing the right way. – SCN Encourager 5/3/2013

There’s a legal way to plagiarize – but your help is required.

I read something yesterday that was so spot on I wished I had written it myself.

So I conferred with my attorney as I tried to suppress the ethical dilemma brewing within me.

She may not be a school attorney (at $31.99 per hour) but time is money and the meter was running. We spoke on the phone for exactly six minutes; long enough for her to repeat the words “intellectual property” several times, yet short enough for me to keep the family wedding fund flush in the low three figure range.

Her counsel was insightful and I was grateful that she did not slam the door outright upon hearing my appeal to help me plagiarize. Plus, I was paying her in cash so she knew she’d not have a lick of trouble with one of my checks like before. (Long story. Not my fault. “Nuf said.)

She cautioned me to give proper attribution to all sources and to avoid cutting and pasting full paragraphs from the work of another author and then claim it as my own (my original Plan A). She didn’t totally ignore my pitiful plea, though, and I was moved by her kind heart and great passion for serving the “silent and untalented” segment of our society. (Hey! We’re people, too!)

At the three-and-a-half minute mark of our phone conference, she came up with a brilliant plan.

In sum: while I can’t legally plagiarize, YOU CAN. 

All YOU have to do is the following. And it’s so simple!

Just read this excellent article while pretending I wrote it. That’s it. If your imagination is especially active and you venture forward in speculation that I was the ghost-writer… all the better! (Who knows?)

Factor in the effort. I’m the one who sent this to you, right? I’m the one who is calling it to your attention, right? Heck, it’s obvious that I’ve done most of the heavy lifting here – all except for the thinking and writing components. But that’s only two parts I didn’t help out with – just two – so any fair minded person would consider me a full partner in this whole enterprise, right?

I’m asking you – and school communicators everywhere – to help me plagiarize this fine article using a unique legal manuever. Nothing more.

The author of the article I’m encouraging you to read is Robert D. Smith, who wrote the book “20,000 Days and Counting.” Yes, the very same book I gave away to interested school communicators after I won a free case of them. But don’t hold this against him.

Smith’s article is about creativity and what it takes for a THOUGHT to blossom into a full-fledged IDEA. It ticks every box in bold and that’s why I wished I had written it.

So remember, while you’re reading his article – please try to envision me as the “co-author.” As my attorney instructed me to say, I hereby give you my legal permission to do so. (But note – this permission applies only to this particular Robert D. Smith article. If you read something else that is so lousy and horrible that you have no trouble at all in imagining that I wrote it – you must cease and desist. I am not giving you permission for this.)

Also, my attorney told me that if I wanted to pay for a few more minutes of her time, she could probably find a regulation somewhere on the books that “entitles” me to co-authorship rights, anyway. But I’m hoping I don’t have to keep raiding the family wedding fund.

Tom Page, SCN
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