Stealing Intellectual Property
America has shifted away from a society ruled by manufacturing to one where intellectual property takes center stage. Although intellectual property has long been protected by our legal system and ethical business practices, technological advances in information sharing make protecting this information far more challenging today. At the same time, the value of intellectual property is what much of modern nations like the US are banking on for economic growth. Copying intellectual property as a form of plagiarism is, therefore, a major issue.
Most individuals think of peer to peer networks and infamous sites like Napster when considering copying; however, this crime is far more serious than pirated music. While authors, musicians, and other artists deserve returns on their ideas and investments, technology is a cornerstone for our society's success. Whether discussing military technology, a manufacturing innovation or internet browser code, copying trade secrets is the most serious, harmful form of plagiarism, because it can seriously undermine innovation, economies, and security.
The education, time, and resources required to develop many technological advances and expert opinions are quite immense. As such, innovators need profits from their wares to reinvest in new research and development. Certainly, even the wealthiest of firms require income from their products and services, yet revenue is particularly important for individuals and small businesses looking to impact the world. When someone comes along once the hard work is done and steals the work, innovation is hurt.
Plagiarism involves stealing the original components of a piece of work. Whether looking at Chinese knockoffs of a cell phone or an idealist looking to freely spread information, plagiarism can hinder innovation by leaving inventors without the resources required to continue their work. At the same time, it also means they must spend more effort protecting these innovations versus innovating. Copying new ideas hurts those seeking to continue innovating while allowing unscrupulous entities in the position to destroy competition to grow and undermine innovation.
Copying is plagiarism, because copying violates the rights of a creative individual to profit from his or her creations as well as preserve how his or her ideas are used. Simply copying someone's works without their permission is both self-serving and harmful to society. Instead of developing new intellectual property and spreading creativity, plagiarism discourages creative thinking. In all, copying should be a concern for all businesses, governments, and professionals.