Plagiarism; defining the risks and penalties

Plagiarism: “The practice of taking someone else's work or ideas and passing them off as one's own.” (Oxford Dictionary, English, 2017.)

As an upcoming designer myself, it really upsets me to find out that brilliant work is in fact the result of plagiarism. And that people still find the need to plagiarise other people’s work, particular artists and designers. This is an industry where originality is applauded and appreciated, and it’s not as easy as just using ‘CTRL + V’. Artists put so much effort, detail and time into their work to be original and different. Yet someone out there still thinks it’s okay to use this absurd shortcut. Recently, I had the opportunity to get myself out there on one of Australia's biggest women's forums by creating advertising material for them to use. Another artist then wanted to have a turn to display their work, which was fine by me. If anything I thought it would be great to see other people like me get recognised. However, it was within a week later the forum found out the piece was in fact not their own in any way. No credit was given to the original artist, who mind you already had a name for themselves. There was no originality, and it almost broke my heart. It was so disappointing to find out that something we loved so much in fact belonged to someone else. Luckily, the person was caught and given the fair consequences. 

Aside the happy ending to this situation, it only goes to show that plagiarism is still very common and deemed to be an easy getaway by people who want that quick fix to get them above all else. This issue is so widely recognised that even governments have laws and regulations to prevent plagiarism, most of which are punishable and image damaging. But does anybody know or use them? Do people not even care? It seems like the seriousness of plagiarism needs reinforcing. Especially in this industry. The industry where myself, and so many other designers and artists, put themselves out there to be seen by the world through creativity. 

So, how can we prevent plagiarism?

- Use references in all of your work where your work is not cited by you. 

- Report any and all work that does not deem to be the publisher’s and cite the correct author, artist, etc.

- Refresh yourself by reading up on your government’s current legislation in regards to Copyright Law. In Australia; ‘Australian Copyright Act 1968’ and ‘The Commonwealth of Australia’s Design Act 2003’. 

To any artist like me, I hope this doesn't happen to you. But if it has, know your rights and act upon them. Otherwise all we can do is educate everyone on the seriousness of this crime, which is what I have hoped to do on this artist's behalf. As for those who act against, be prepared or original. 

Sophie Lange