Sunday, March 20, 2011


In Something Borrowed, Malcolm Gladwell asks whether a line should be drawn between plagiarism and borrowing for a purpose.  He explores two kinds of plagiarism:  “borrowing that’s transformative” and “borrowing that’s merely derivative” (70).  The difference is borrowing for the sake of copying and borrowing to enhance your work.  In the case between Lavery and Lewis, Lavery uses ideas from Lewis’ life story, in an article written by Gladwell, to create another story for a play.  It is clear that Lavery plagiarized for not asking permission from Gladwell, but it was meant as a part of her work.  Because she changed parts of Lewis’ life in the play, this shows that she borrowed the ideas to transform them.  In the cases with music and plagiarism, it seems that we wouldn’t have the music today if the musicians hadn’t looked to others for inspiration.  Even though it is okay to seek ideas from others, it is equally important to ask for their permission.
I liked this piece even though there were a lot of different situations to keep up with.  I found it interesting that Gladwell did not feel as angry as Lewis was over the plagiarism because Gladwell felt as though he became part of something big. I think Lavery has the right to be creative to write a play, but the only questionable thing what her means of writing it.  I also found it interesting how there is an emotional aspect to plagiarism.  Lavery used words and ideas from both Gladwell and Lewis, but the two reacted differently to the plagiarism.  Lewis felt completely robbed after reading the play script:  “[…] it was as if someone had stolen my essence” (63).  Both Lewis’ and Lavery’s lives were affected. So not only does plagiarism hurt the plagiarist but it also hurts the one being plagiarized.

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