By Rosalyn Queen
The word of the week is “plagiarism.” The definition of plagiarism is using the thoughts or words of another author without permission to do so or without acknowledging who the works belong to.
The word is up front in our news this past week due to the resignation of the president of Harvard University. The last few days every time I listen to the news. This subject comes up. As I see it, it seems quite clear that the above is truly the meaning of the word. Over the years I have heard individuals who have taken words and used them as their own. I have never heard of anyone being prosecuted for doing this but I guess with a little research I might come up with someone.
Now I want to share my involvement with this act. When I was about five years into the Italian Festival, I got a call from friend and author, Phylis Moore. She advised me that she was reading a news release that I had just released and she was sure that I had committed plagiarism. I replayed that I had only used what the individual had supplied me as a bio and that Ihad lifted out parts when preparing a release.
No matter how hard I tried to explain my actions, Phylis led me to believe I was guilty. I asked her to help me rectify this. I was scared and was sure I might end up in jail. So I followed her advice and contacted the honoree. They agreed I,would release a statement giving them credit for the statements. Then I gave them an ad In the souvenir book promoting their book. This seemed to end my actions.
That has been many years ago, but every time I start to write I remind myself to be careful with the words I use. If I use a joke, a song, a poem or a saying anyone has made famous I try to give them credit for it.