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A Couple of Questions

jrlewis's picture

Great NY Times article about copyright, remixing, plagiarism, new genres and new media. 

Why is she selling her book? Has she copyrighted it? Isn’t that hypocritical considering her literary methods and ideology?

Will she get that literary prize? What is the committee considering? Who will lose to her if she wins?

Were there copyrights on her sources? Did she violate any copyright law or is she exploring a gray area?

How are the works that she used as sources fairing, are they popular? Have they benefited from her fame? From people connecting the their work to hers?


Shayna S's picture

Target: Generation X




I don't think I can hope to answer many of these questions, but this article seems to bring up (probably unintentionally) a point about "remixing." The article, at least to me, emphasizes this remixing/ plagiarism as a product of the new generation.


Remixing is not new (as the documentary Anne Dalke had us watch, RIP A Re-mix: A Manifesto, often points out). Where is this antagonism coming from? 

As far as I can tell from the article, the author had put the lines and pages she "stole" in a new context. Isn't this just another part of the evolution of literature? RIP A Re-mix: A Manifesto says the new builds upon the old.


I think of fairy tales and the thousands upon thousands of versions that are available today. From Disney movies to comic books to dark and twisted gothic movies, these stories have been remixed without so much accusation of plagiarism as praise for new takes on old tales. This author, however, is getting quite the opposite response to her use of sources. If big companies can be rewarded millions of dollars for rewrites, why can't Helene Hegemann be rewarded for her obviously talented remix? Perhaps it is because she is fighting restrictive, out-dated monetary values. 

Hegemann probably is exploring a gray area, but she didn't discover it. Her critics condemn her for theft and not using her "own words." Yet, I think of Shakespear and the thousands of stories based on his plays that were based on other stories he had heard. Where are the lawsuits for West Side Story? Where are the controversies and scandals against The Lion King?

Hegemann says it best, "“There’s no such thing as originality anyway, just authenticity.” 

Does the internet make it easier to use another's works, or does it merely illustrate what has already been going on with works? Maybe both?

Why is plagiarism such an issue now?





rmeyers's picture


I think you posed a good question here about context: remixing should not just be the passing off a work as your own (feel free to debate me here) but learning from/adding to/simplifying/whatever a previous work. (For example: there is a difference between publishing Shakespeare's Hamlet under your own name with no changes even if he did take the story from someone else, and using Hamlet to create a new work --using Shakespeare's language to create new meaning or mix it with something else, or at the very least adding your own footnotes/context.) I guess the question is, for me, how much of her own spirit and work did Hegemann put into her (new) book? And this is a question the article does not seem to answer, although I would hazard a guess that she put lots of time and creative energy into it.

I think in schools plagarism is such an issue because teachers fear that their students will not 'learn' something if it is not new, or that having something new proves that a student has worked harder. Instead, maybe we should think about thoughfulness --you can think deeply on a subject and learn from it without being entirely 'creative' on your own. Sadly, you can also plargarize and not give any thought to learning or what you are doing. So maybe a better tactic would be teaching kids how to remix/reform/assimilate information and make it their own-- they will understand and learn much better that way too. (And I am fairly certain thoughts like these have been voiced before... so there you go.)

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