Famous Plagiarism Cases in Art and Writing

Art is unique, creative, and production of one’s original thoughts. This is often why some of the most revered works of art do not always make sense to people that are not artsy. Either that or each person is entitled to their own interpretation of these works. That is the beauty of creating something from an original point of view.

While many artists know how to make these works from their minds, others are leeches who benefit from this creativity. They won’t always have the common decency to credit the original owner, which makes their action a classic case of plagiarism.

There have been famous and, honestly, quite notorious plagiarism cases in the past, and enough of them involving famous people. Here are four such cases.

Saddam Hussein and the Iraqi Government

Turns out that even the world’s fiercest terrorist isn’t immune to plagiarism. In 2003, the United Nations sent Iraq documents requesting more information on the country’s weaponry and military operations. In what could only be surmised as sarcasm, Saddam Hussein and the Iraqi government copied parts of the UN’s declaration word for word in the counter-declaration. Of course, they could not be bothered to use a free online plagiarism checker with percentage to show the parts of the copied speech. They ensured to remove the parts that painted the country badly or even show it to have more weapons than necessary.

What followed wasn’t pretty. This response was taken to mean that Iraq had set the stage for war and the 2003 invasion of Iraq followed shortly after this plagiarism. Hussein would later be ousted, but the war didn’t end there. It is far from over, but it wouldn’t be reaching to say this case of plagiarism was one of the straws that broke the camel’s back.

Andy Warhol “Borrows” from Patricia Caulfield

The world held Andy Warhol in high esteem for his work in pop culture and how he weaved in marketing and advertisements to the celebrity culture. We still see that a lot today, so it is fitting that he is respected as the founding father. One of his most celebrated works, a 1964 series that he named “Flowers,” that was made of beautiful floral designs on silkscreens, was noted to have heavily borrowed from an artist known as Patricia Caulfield. Caulfield sued in 1966, and it was determined that he indeed plagiarized the work. Though Warhol saved face, this minor incident tainted his image enough for people to doubt the originality of his previous works.

Melania Trump’s 2016 Speech

Not too long ago, the former FLOTUS made a mistake that many refused to forget; a part of her speech borrowed too closely from one given eight years before by Michelle Obama. What made it even more interesting was that these two women were, at the time of the speech, known to have political differences.

Here is the part of Mrs. Trump’s message in her 2016 speech:

From a young age, my parents impressed on me the values that you work hard for what you want in life, that your word is your bond and you do what you say and keep your promise, that you treat people with respect.”

In 2008, this is what Mrs. Obama had said:

Barack and I were raised with so many of the same values: that you work hard for what you want in life; that your word is your bond and you do what you say you’re going to do; that you treat people with dignity and respect, even if you don’t know them, and even if you don’t agree with them.”

There is no doubt that the words of Michelle Obama heavily inspired Melania Trump’s speech, and it makes sense that she should because that was a beautiful speech. Someone could argue Melania was also brought up with similar values, so she put into words what was inculcated in her, but the problem would be in the wording. No punishment was meted on Melania, but the internet didn’t allow her off her fans to forget this.

Sam Smith’s ‘Stay With Me’

Sam Smith’s soulful music resonates with audiences older than he is, and so when he released ‘Stay With Me,’ it was an instant hit. A little after it was sampled in 2014, Tom Petty’s published reached out and said it bore similarities with their ‘I Won’t Back Down.’ Smith said he agreed with the observations after listening to Petty’s song, and they all decided to settle it amicably. The settlement was quite hefty: Petty and his co-writer Jeff Lynne got writing credits to Stay with Me and 12.5% of the royalties, and they didn’t need to go to court to settle this.

What Constitutes Plagiarism?

You can avoid plagiarism if you check these things below:

  • Phrases are identical in every way like they were copied word for word
  • The copied sections are not accredited to the original creator
  • Lack of quotation marks to show they were direct quotes
  • Borrowing statistics and solid facts without acknowledging the original content

As a matter of honor, one is expected to credit their source as a way of acknowledging their work. Failing to do that shows malicious intention and is punishable. There are usually several cases of unintentional plagiarism, in which case the involved parties will find an amicable solution. To avoid all the drama that results from plagiarism, a wise person runs their article through a plagiarism checker and revises any part that may paint them in a bad light. Ignorance is never a defense, as was seen in the case of Sam Smith. The owner of any work of art will always have the upper hand as long as they have protected their intellectual property.