The Plagiarism History: Ethics and Internet

Porfirio Barroso, Lucía Tello and Adelaide Marin


The purpose of this investigation, focuses on the different concepts of plagiarism that we use now and have been using trough history, starting from its etymologic origin to the new concepts plagiarism stand for with the arrival of personal computers and Internet. We intend to show how plagiarism has lived among men/women ever since its existence, even though her evolution is logic, this phenomenon kept its essentialities of the act. Trough this thesis we will make a comparison of plagiarism since ancient times up till the influences of New Information and Communication Technologies.

The purpose is to create, in the mind of the receptor, criteria’s of free opinion about how plagiarism exposes the principal arguments in favor and against this phenomenon. On the other hand, we would like to give acknowledgement about how plagiarism handles in different scopes like the artistically, architectural, literature, and to distinguish from this century, the technological and informational scope.

The conceptual study is being developed from a chronological point of view: plagiarism trough time. We put the different forms forward in which plagiarism transformed itself since the assumed religious origins of the ancient epoch, trough the scientific improvements of Modern Times, to end with the new technological discoveries that preoccupy the present.

An analysis of the concept mentioned above, is also carried out from a legal, doctrinal and ethical point of view, which is the balance on which this investigation is based. The terminology plagiarism can consist of two meanings that have been used and are still used in history. The first meaning refers to the fraudulent copy without authors’ rights. The second meaning of plagiarism is used in a lot of publications as a synonym for the abduction of people.

The different mediums, in digital or printed format, that have been sources to obtain information for this investigation, were in principal social theses written by authors such as Virgilio Balbuena; laws and directives of the European Union, such as the Treaty of OMPI about authors’ rights (WCT) and the Convention of Berna for the protection of Literary and Artistic Works. The different examples used in the investigation are part of the collective cultural memory. After the analysis and examination of these sources, it was concluded that plagiarism lasts until the end of humanity . It was shown that this phenomenon is typical for human beings, in religious aspects (God created man to his image and resemblance), as well as in physiological and scientific aspects (DNA that duplicates, plagiarizes itself to reproduce mankind). Moreover, learning by imitation is also a point of discussion. In this case, plagiarism is the main instrument for man to develop his cognitive capabilities.

Human beings have learned to live with plagiarism, knowing how to distinguish the good or bad behavior in daily and professional life. We can discern between legal an ethical aspects of the plagiarism. From the point of view of law, each country has its own regulation about the plagiarism. However, from the point of view of Ethics, according to the Internet Codes of Ethics, we have consulted, all kind of plagiarism is unethical. On the other hand, we undestand that mere copying is when the authors give permission for copying, or is an authorized copy.

There are a lot of arguments for and against this phenomenon. The detractors of plagiarism refer to fraudulent copies that work against public interest and fundamental rights by misleading the consumer in the displacement of the pieces of work and their authors, losing the spirit and originality of the first creator. From another point of view, the defenders of plagiarism proclaim that the copy is their own possession. This is how they acquire the status of martyr by reducing their own originality and to accept the responsibility to have internalized the essence of the work. This duality forms an obstacle to create laws and regularization, because this concept includes morality and ethical issues.

Despite the foundation of acts like copyright and domestic rules from the European Union like intellectual property and author rights, plagiarism is still one of the most international problem for the new technology. Since the foundation of the printing till the recent new computers unlimited forms of plagiarism exist. Nowadays not controlling plagiarism has great consequences in sectors like economy, art and information. The main cause: Internet.

The limitations that makes the investigation process impossible have a mainly literal and legislative character. There is a legal blank as well in the communitarian law as in the laws of the government and those laws that are only capable of being effective to prevent plagiarism. There is also little investigation in this phenomenon, that is why there is not many literature about it. The texts that handles about the subject abuse the general opinion and don’t give good arguments to start an objective investigation. The sense of this text is established in the fact about whether it is the original work or not like a similar investigation. It is a copy of different consulted sources. In this case the reader already knows how plagiarism is produced because he knows the source. And like this, they found themselves obligated to take part of one of the positions already bared.

The examined work presents itself as a text that analyses different relation subjects like History, Humanity, Ethics and plagiarism.