Cheating and Plagiarism - It’s Not Plagiarism, It’s Recycling

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It’s Not Plagiarism, It’s Recycling

What does plagiarism have to do with Shakespeare, Marlowe, Ovid's Metamorphosis, Titus Andronicus, Revenge Tragedies, Adam, Eve and the apple, and The Tempest? All these and many more are the result of plagiarism.

There seems to be a great discussion on whether or not Shakespeare is the true author of the plays associated with his name. The internet seems to be full of essays, discussion boards and book reviews all dealing with this particular topic and most of the people submitting them are very forceful and definitive about their positions. In just a few hours of searching I found well over a thousand pages dealing with the original source of the works of art assigned to Shakespeare's name. The most disappointing part was that none of the essays I read even suggested the possibility of Shakespeare just "borrowing" information and topics from other playwrights and authors. They were all mainly interested in the man who actually put the words on paper. Not only did this decrease their usefulness for this particular paper but also they made it seem like the person who wrote the plays down on paper had some particular lawful ownership over them. This was not true though.

During the time that Shakespeare was writing plays in England, there were no such laws deeming a play protected by copyright laws. Today, plays are usually published and distributed but in the Elizabethan era, plays were only written enough for the actors to learn their lines. When plays were put on there was usually a large audience. This audience could have included other playwrights and actors who would then remember pieces of what they saw and use them later in their own productions. How could this be copyrighted?

Back then, actors were lucky if they did not get stopped by the police while performing a play why would the ideas of a playwright be protected by law? I do not think anyone even cared if the plays were used as resources for other plays. If Shakespeare used a part from one of Marlowe's plays, then Marlowe could take some ideas from Shakespeare. Since most of the ideas for plays came from famous works anyway, who's to say that Shakespeare's idea was even his own?

Ovid's Metamorphosis is one of the most referenced works in the plays we have read already in class.
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