Plagiarism and Copyright

Freshman (College 1st year) ・English ・MLA ・2 Sources

Plagiarism is absolutely not a new concept, it is a term synonymous with academics and different fields such as research. Many people would agree that plagiarism is copying or using other people’s work with true accrediting them for the work. In this case, the person accused of plagiarism presents other people’s work as personal. Moreover, the very use of the phrases “borrowing” of “copying” can disguise the seriousness of the offense of plagiarism. In this light, the best way to describe plagiarism is as a fraud action which entails stealing someone’s work or thoughts and presenting them as yours. The implication of plagiarism is copyright infringement and loss of originality. And although many people think of plagiarism as something that happens in schools, in the outside world cases of plagiarism have been reported. One such case scenario is that of Melania Trump and Michele Obama’s speech. Juxtaposing Melania and Stanton in how they present their idea, it is evident that Trump, like Stanton in relation to Jefferson, changes words in Obama’s sentences. However, unlike Stanton, these changes do not allow her to express her own thoughts, but instead, she merely restates Obama’s ideas.

The opening statement Stanton is a complete replicate of Jefferson with a word to word representation of the speech. Stanton fails to accredit that she is quoting Jefferson; thus, it becomes clear she can be accused of plagiarizing Jefferson’s work. However, at second paragraph she digresses to her own ideas. She states “We hold these truths…men and women are created equal…” (Stanton paragraph 2). This differs totally with Jefferson’s idea who argues that “We hold these truths…that all men are created equally…” (Jefferson paragraph 2). This shows that despite the similarities of the words used in the two speeches, Stanton clearly brings out her idea different from that of Jefferson. In this case, Stanton cannot be accused of plagiarizing the work of Jefferson because she was talking about a different idea. The choice of words could be similar, but the meaning and the ideas are far different which evokes the idea that she has not stolen or copied another person work.

In the case of Trump, she started her speech “From young age…values that you work hard…” which simply change of words from those of Obama who states “Barack and I were raised… that you work hard…” (Krieg, “CNN Politics”). It is evident that Melania does not change the idea brought forth by Michelle and neither does she change how the idea is presented. Only a few words are changed perhaps to imply that she is the original composer of the speech. Moreover, the arrangements of the thoughts are similar in all aspects which clearly show that she is not presenting her own ideas but those of another person. This is a clear demonstration of plagiarizing another person’s work and disregarding to accredit their input in the original work.

The case of Trump and Stanton are different as noted above in that the representation of ideas. While Trump represents Obama’s ideas with a few changes of words, Stanton represents her own ideas borrowing her style of representation from that of Jefferson. Trump restates Obama’s ideas with very minimal changes which make her liable to plagiarism as opposed to Stanton who represents her own ideas following an example of Jefferson.

Furthermore, Stanton's work though not so unique, the whole ideas are her own. She is talking about women’s equal rights to those of men as opposed to Jefferson talk on liberation and freedom for all American Colonies from the British government. Stanton believes that women should be given same opportunities as men as opposed to having men enjoy more rights just because they are men. In her time the American society did not value much the input of women as that of men. And in her speech, she tries to address the concerns of having gender superiority and how women suffer for no good reason. On his side, Jefferson addresses the issue of the British monarch and how he had failed to protect the rights of the ordinary American. He called all the elected leaders to vote for the United States of America to be liberated from the colonial chains. Clearly, the two speakers are addressing two different concerns, but they represent ideas the same way. And as earlier noted, plagiarism only occurs when a person represents another person works as theirs. Which in this case, Stanton is representing her own work using Jefferson’s words; hence, she is not liable to have plagiarized Jefferson’s work.

On the other hand, Trump says “We need to pass…lessons…willingness to work…” which is directly replicated from Obama’s 2008s speech where she says “…pas them…generation…want our children… to work for them…” (Krieg, Gregory, Scott, and Erick “CNN”). This part of the speech presented by Trump lacks originality because it is fully copied from Obama yet it fails to acknowledge Mrs. Obama as the owner of the words. The ideas presented are the same and words are also the same, and by failing to change the meaning, then Trump proves that she has plagiarized the work of Obama.

Additionally, McCarthy and Jacobs notes that a significant portion of Trump’s speech at the Republican convention was lifted verbatim form Obama’s speech delivered in 2008 (“The Guardian”). Trump failed to differentiate her ideas from those of Obama, and she ended up presenting Obama’s ideas in all aspects. In addition to presenting Obama’s ideas, she changed some words to make the speech appears as though it was hers’. This was an act of fraud that was supported by changing of words yet retaining all the whole idea of the speech. If Trump had changed the concept of the meaning brought forth, then despite borrowing words from Obama then she would not have plagiarized the speech.

In the Declaration of Independence and Declaration of Sentiments, the ideas are presented the same, but the meaning is different. The same happening with different cases as represented in the modern society. For example, Facebook and Twitter and many other Social Medias use the same concept of bridging the gap of communication between people. However, their originality is in how they present their ideas and concepts. Furthermore, films such as Olympus has Fallen 2013, and White House Down 2013 borrow the same storyline, but they present the ideas differently which makes them to have different originalities. In this light, Stanton presents her ideas like Jefferson, but she does not retell the idea of Jefferson in her own words. She uses partly Jefferson’s words to talk about her own ideas like it happens in most cases in life. Unlike Stanton, Trump represents Obamas’s ideas without changing the meaning but simply by changing very few parts of the words to make the speech look like her’s. In this case, Trump does not present original ideas but copied work as hers.

It is evident that by using the word to word to represent Michelle Obama’s ideas, Trump plagiarized her work. For instance, Trump replicates Obama’s speech when she says “Their…my love for family and America.” Obama in 2008 argued that “her integrity…compassion…intelligence reflected my daughters…” (Healy, and Martin, New York Times). This is just a change of a couple of words, but the meaning is retained. Furthermore, more than eighty percent of the words is retained which shows that Trump plagiarized the speech of Mrs. Obama. This contradicts the work of Stanton who uses the words of Jefferson to represent her own ideas. Thus, the case of Trump and Stanton are different in how work is presented and ideas are argued, and the meaning presented. Stanton presents and original case, but Trump presents someone else’ work.

In conclusion, plagiarism is not something new, it has existed for many years, but it is wrong. Using other people’s work without original permission and failing to credit them for the work is makes a person liable for content infringement. The case of Stanton and Jefferson presents different ideas thus make the work of Stanton original. However, the case of Trump is different because she fails to present her ideas and through changes some words she ends up presenting the ideas of Mrs. Obama. This makes Trump liable to plagiarism unlike Stanton who presents her own ideas borrowing from the words of Jefferson.

Works Cited

Haberman, Alan Rappeport, Patrick Healy and Jonathan Martin, Maggie, Alan Rappeport,

Jefferson, Thomas, and Sam Fink. The declaration of independence. Scholastic Inc., 2002. Print.

Krieg, Gregory, Eugene Scott, and Erick Bradner. "No one to be fired after Melania Trump speech plagiarism episode." CNN. Cable News Network, 19 July 2016. Web. 27 Apr. 2017. <>

McCarthy, Tom, and Ben Jacobs. "Melania Trump convention speech seems to plagiarise Michelle Obama." The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 19 July 2016. Web. 27 Apr. 2017. <>.

Patrick Healy, and Jonathan Martin. "Questions Over Melania Trump's Speech Set Off Finger-Pointing." The New York Times. The New York Times, 19 July 2016. Web. 27 Apr. 2017.<>

Stanton, Elizabeth Cady, Susan B. Anthony, and M.J. Cage. A History of Woman Suffrage, vol. 1 (Rochester, N.Y.: Fowler and Wells, 1889).

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