A few years ago I watched the 1998 film The Man in the Iron Mask starring Leonardo DiCaprio. The film was set in the 17th century and told the story of the tyrannical King Louis XIV of France who was more concerned about money, greed and promiscuity than helping his poverty stricken country. Unbeknown to everyone the King had a twin brother called Phillipe who he had imprisoned for 6 years and kept his identity hidden under an iron mask to stop him from claiming his birth right – the thrown.
One of the musketeers Raoul found out that the King had a twin brother. He along with the help of his fellow musketeers hatched a plan. It was to replace King Louis XIV with Phillpe so he could claim what was rightfully his, restore the people of Paris’s faith and save them from starvation. The story draws parallels to plagiarism. I’ll explain.
Plagiarism is perceived as stealing another person’s idea without referencing and acknowledging them and passing it on as your own. Usually when thinking about plagiarism, people think that is just with associated words. However, that is not the case. Plagiarism can relate to images, videos, sampling someone’s music or composition without acknowledging them. Plagiarism is identity theft.
Just like King Louis XIV in the film kept his brother’s identity a secret by claiming he was the only heir to the throne, people may plagiarise because they want self –acknowledgement, praise and also greed. Plagiarism can also occur due to laziness and people feeling under pressure to meet a specific deadline or to keep up an appearance. However plagiarism can be deemed as a crime. A crime of immorality.
By stealing/copying someone else’s work without acknowledgement you are taking away their intellectual property. This is why copyright laws, copy inventions, patents for ideas are all put into place to prevent someone’s idea being misused and that person or company being misrepresented. If you think you can steal someone else identity, you are wrong. There will be ramifications just like there was for the King Louis XIV. He hid his brother’s identity and in a sense stole what was his. At the end of the film he got caught and was replaced by his brother as King. He faced imprisonment and wore the Iron Mask he made his brother wear for all those years. Some would say that it was karma.
Moral of the story? If you are going to use someone’s work/their identity so to speak, make sure you reference and acknowledge it and don’t pass it on as your own. This is because like King Louis XIV, you will be tarnishing your own reputation and imprisoning your own brand and the company you may work for.