Thursday, August 23, 2012

Plagiarism in the Senate: Should it be Commonplace or Should it be Penalized?

Plagiarism is such a bad thing, we all know that. Especially in the academics, lifting original content into one’s work, such as theses and research papers are considered mortal sin. In the publishing world, plagiarizing someone else’s work will definitely result to criminal accountability.

But apparently, plagiarism in the Philippine Senate is merely an everyday occurrence, this according to Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III. This is some sort of exposé after the senator was caught red-handed last week when his speech against the passing of the Reproductive Health Bill had been found to contain materials lifted entirely from the content of an American blog site.

According to the beleaguered senator, even contents of bills that have not been passed or enacted are entirely copied and inserted into new legislative propositions, as if reviving dead bills and re-inventing them into an entirely new set of bills to be presented anew for approval, but this time around, with different credits for authorship.

According to Hector Villacorta, Sotto’s chief of staff, “Copying is a common practice. Why do you need to think of a brand-new measure when a good one that was not enacted already exists?”

Villacorta added and reiterated that there is no law penalizing unoriginal content in the speeches of senators and congressmen and that even our Constitution is a plagiarized version of the United States Constitution.
Now these revelations seem to counter common notion about plagiarism or piracy of original work. It should be highly unexpected for lawmakers to see such inappropriateness to be common place and all too prevalent.

From Wikipedia, plagiarism is defined as the "wrongful appropriation," "close imitation," or "purloining and publication" of another author's "language, thoughts, ideas, or expressions," and the representation of them as one's own original work.

In legal parlance, plagiarism does not take place in Philippine laws or even in American laws. The closest regulation about it would be found  in the Intellectual Property Laws especially on copyright infringement.

The Law on Copyright, Chapter 2, Section 172, the following shall be considered protected from replication:

(a) Books, pamphlets, articles and other writings;
(b) Periodicals and newspapers;
(c) Lectures, sermons, addresses, dissertations prepared for oral delivery, whether or not reduced in writing or other material form;
(d) Letters;
(e) Dramatic or dramatico-musical compositions; choreographic works or entertainment in dumb shows;
(f) Musical compositions, with or without words;
(g) Works of drawing, painting, architecture, sculpture, engraving, lithography or other works of art; models or designs for works of art;
(h) Original ornamental designs or models for articles of manufacture, whether or not registrable as an industrial design, and other works of applied art;
(i) Illustrations, maps, plans, sketches, charts and three-dimensional works relative to geography, topography, architecture or science;
(j) Drawings or plastic works of a scientific or technical character;
(k) Photographic works including works produced by a process analogous to photography; lantern slides;
(l) Audiovisual works and cinematographic works and works produced by a process analogous to cinematography or any process for making audio-visual recordings;
(m) Pictorial illustrations and advertisements;
(n) Computer programs; and
(o) Other literary, scholarly, scientific and artistic works.

There is emphasis in the Law on Copyright that:

“Works are protected by the sole fact of their creation, irrespective of their mode or form of expression, as well as of their content, quality and purpose.” (Section 172.2)

Therefore, content in the web, whether they are from blog sites or are from regular websites, information and materials contained in them shall be considered as original intellectual creations, from the moment of creation, notwithstanding its registration for copyright protection in the Intellectual Property Office.

Works of government, which unenacted bills should belong to, are not within the contemplation of items protected from copyright infringement that they can be utilized in so long as permissions are requested and thereafter granted. To this, reviving dead bills shall not fall under copyright infringement as determined by the Law on Copyright where authorship in lawmaking does not become closely associated with authorship in terms of published materials.

But definitely, lifted contents from a website, to be used for a speech, if not granted prior permission by the author, shall be considered as unlawful and therefore a violation of the law, the Law on Copyright to be specific.


  1. Plagiarism is widespread. We should all be responsible for the articles we write and broadcast. It's just too bad that Sen. Sotto's team's had been careless in undermining the value of proper research.

  2. That should be the case Rizza.Amen. :-)

  3. Villacorta's explanation is a bullshit is he educated at all. Even if I plagiarize I will admit it and will humbly said sorry about it, but they seems like powerful and boastful about the issue

  4. Yeah, the Senator should have handled this situation in a more cordial manner.

  5. This Sotto-plagiarism-just-a-blogger ruckus is getting infuriating already. Then again, bad publicity is still publicity, isn't it? All Sen. Sotto has to do is apologize. Is that so hard to do?

  6. Oh my! Tito and his Atty, they have to many excuses and palusot.Thye just makes themselves funny and stupid with these press release, expressing their points as if people are ignorant of what this simple word "Plagiarism " means. Go back to kindergarten and study again, you morons!(excuse my word)

  7. it also proves that there are so many stupid people working in high positions, mostly based on connections or associations, that it now makes education and literacy redundant. and that also explains why any people in america are ignorant about society and world, preferring to believe the bullshit of the media, instead, just because it is readily available on their tv screen.

  8. @ Maricel: That's exactly what I was thinking. All the senator had to do was admit and apologized. His camp wouldn't have to be so defensive. He could have done what Manny Pangilinan did, or at least responded the same way.

    @ Tatess : Haha, that's really escapes me, how they mishandled this thing so darnly...

    @fifileigh: That's what also I realized. I thought i could have been a better senator or better chief of staff :-)

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