Tuesday, August 21, 2012

On Public Speeches, Aggregation and Plagiarism

"A thief is a thief, Mr. Senator. Denying it doesn't get you off the hook; it just makes you a lying thief."
- Sarah Pope, The Healthy Home Economist

So last week Tito Sotto, one of the Philippines' senators, has been accused of plagiarism. It's being said that entire portions of his turno en contra speech regarding the pending RH Bill have been lifted verbatim from a certain blog, not to mention allegations that some of his other speeches also stole words from published online content.

While debates on this controversial bill has a lot of people choosing sides, that is not the issue here. It's troubling that not only did the senator deny the wrongdoing, he also seemingly condones what his staff has done and he has not delivered a convincing and humble apology.

His chief of staff, Attorney Hector Villacorta added, "You have a blog, it is meant to be shared, it’s in the public domain, so it’s not plagiarism."

It's a shame that an elected official would prioritize pedantry over common sense and common decency. We have been taught in school to always give credit where it is due. It's a mockery for all senators, incumbent or otherwise, for one of their own to do this, especially when his speech would be added to the Senate's records. It's pretty hard to swallow the fact that not only do we record speeches that are mostly only delegated to people on their payroll, there may also be plagiarised work in there.

Given the amount of user-generated submissions done on the Internet nowadays, the line between aggregation and plagiarism has begun to blur. However, there is no grey area in this incident. Short of a public apology, it's very hard to save face from this act.

It's utterly unacceptable that there are people in high places who have blatant disregard for the hard work that others put countless hours into. It's sad that politicians think copyrights (and the protection it entails) do not extend to bloggers and online writers given the vast amount of content that the Internet provides (mostly at no cost).

Ultimately, people only want to be credited for their work. I don't think that's too much to ask.

No comments:

Post a Comment