Note: This is a part of the series on lessons from different professions.Click here and here to read the previous ones.

Okay, ‘plagiarist’ is not a profession :P, but yes, many people have built their careers because of plagiarism!

Many music directors in India plagiarize music from different countries. Old people are shocked when they find out that their favorite songs were actually plagiarized. They don’t accept it because they think that plagiarism wouldn’t have been possible in ‘those’ days. But plagiarism has existed since ages. And it is not just limited to music. People copy films, screenplays, paintings, literature etc.

Whenever I hear a song which I know is plagiarized, I am furious. I immediately stop the radio or turn off the television. I cannot stand it. But recently, I wanted to understand why plagiarism made me so angry. The obvious answer is that creativity is hard work. When someone just steals the blood, sweat and tears of someone, it hurts. But one thing I always do when something about someone makes me angry is: Am I like this person in the same or some other area of my life? Initially, I was like, “No way! I’m not like THEM” but actually I am…in a deeper way. No, I don’t plagiarize anybody’s work of art but I copy. Actually, we all copy.

The plagiarist has to go through the work of many artists and choose the one who he thinks will fulfill his goals..which is mostly people’s appreciation and getting the job done. In short, he does what he does to avoid discomfort. It is tough to create something. It is easy to copy (it is tough to handle the consequences of plagiarism though).

I recently heard someone talk about imitation and it seems to be the answer to ‘my’ plagiarism: Whenever we meet someone, we are most likely to imitate that person’s behavior. If someone is upset, we are most likely to feel sad as well. If someone runs to you out of panic, most probably we will also panic and then, we will spread the panic to others and it becomes a virus. You might deny this but do observe this: you might be using some slang that your co-worker uses everyday. You haven’t really consciously thought of using it but it happens. We copy others without even realizing. This is good news. We can create something positive and others might imitate us!

 There are few people who are creative. No matter what the situation, they create what they want. Everyone around the person may be complaining but this person will remain focused. Nothing can deter this person. People may panic but he/she will try to be calm and do what needs to be done. People may gossip but he/she won’t copy these people. He/she won’t be angry with gossip because gossiping about gossip in your mind is also gossip :P. This doesn’t mean he/she will indulge in gossip, he/she will just keep away physically AS WELL as mentally (most people only keep away their physical self. Mentally, they complain about gossipers). In short, his reactions and actions are original.

Observe yourself: are you copying others or creating your own vibe? Plagiarism in art is visible. We copy people’s lives, their behavior, their knee-jerk reactions, their impulses etc which are invisible and subtle. Why do we copy? The answer is the same as the plagiarist: to avoid discomfort. Like I said, it is easy to copy and tough to create. Most of us take the easier route.

Plagiarism must be always discouraged but let’s not forget about our own lack of originality.

But is there anything positive that we can learn from the plagiarist? It could be: knowing whom and when to imitate. If we come across someone who is calm in stressful situations, we can imitate that person! We can feed off his positive energy and possibly, try to copy him/her in situations where he/she is not present. But ultimately, to be authentic in our actions, the creation should come from within.

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