Author Topic: Plagiarism  (Read 6111 times)


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« on: September 28, 2011, 09:03:50 PM »
I was reading a collection of haiku today and was a little startled when I read a couple of poems were very similar to a couple of mine in both idea and wording.  I made me start thinking about the line between artistic overlap and plagiarism.  I know that it is probably impossible to avoid the overlap but at what point does it become plagiarism, even if it is unintended?


Don Baird

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Re: Plagiarism
« Reply #1 on: September 29, 2011, 12:12:56 AM »
Well Andy.  This just might be the question of the century.  It's possible, as I see it, that if one word in a poem makes a significant difference, it might never be adjudicated as plagiarism.  Secondly, proving who wrote the poem first could become a crucial aspect of the argument which, therefore, should encourage all of us to document when we wrote the poem (as I do).

These poems are so short that copyright protection becomes a major point of contention; and, most likely, unresolvable in many cases.

There are some folks here that know a heck of a lot more than I do about all this; I'm interested to see what they have to say ...


I write haiku because they're there ...

storm drain
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of winter

Gabi Greve

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Re: Plagiarism
« Reply #2 on: September 29, 2011, 01:45:11 AM »
Here is a bit on the take in Japan

Unison (shoowa 唱和)
'honka-dori, honkadori 本歌取り



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Re: Plagiarism
« Reply #3 on: September 29, 2011, 04:39:49 AM »
Michael Dylan Welch has expanded essays on his Déjà-ku:

As Don says, it's not easy to pin down, and this partly down the brevity of the poem so people can accidentily or deliberately copy someone's else's haiku, killer frag, or killer phrase etc...

Like a few of us, I've read over a quarter of a million, possibly half a million haiku or more, by now, and not only notice trends and fads come and go, come back, but if a haiku is deliberately copied.

All I can suggest is that you read a lot of haiku, not just from the past (Classic); but both near past (Modern) and now (Contemporary) examples of haiku.

Haikai literature also has a tradition of alluding to past works (see Gabi's link above) and so you need to differentiate between allusion and a complete rip off.

Of course in the Western world poets are pinching off each all the time, and often that's seen as okay.  No great writer writes in isolation. 

If you do long poetry you are expected to look at Milton onwards, and become their style for a short period until you absorb that style into your growing arsenal of tools and techniques.

I've coached students to write in someone else's style for short periods of time as a challenge, and then it's great when you see them absorb those nunances that good haiku poets have.  But they are writing fresh material, but in that poet's style.

Also during my Masters degree we were all told we couldn't plagiarise ourselves! ;-)  That is use earlier work done before we started the degree.

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