While "copying may be the sincerest form of flattery,"
social media ensures that "cheaters never prosper." Take
for example, the recent Trump saga - this time involving hopeful
First Lady, Melania, whose speech on the opening night of the
Republican National Convention raised some eyebrows...
For those in the audience who felt a twinge of
déjà vu, Twitter came to the rescue; users taking to
their keyboards to point out some close similarities between
Melania's speech with that of one made by none other than
current First Lady, Michelle Obama.
Take the extracts from both speeches below for example.
Eight years earlier at the Democratic National Convention,
Michelle Obama said:
And Barack and I were raised with so
many of the same values: that you work hard for what you want in
life; that your word is your bond and you do what you say
you're going to do; that you treat people with dignity and
respect, even if you don't know them, and even if you don't
agree with them.
And Barack and I set out to build
lives guided by these values, and pass them on to the next
generation. Because we want our children — and all children
in this nation — to know that the only limit to the height of
your achievements is the reach of your dreams and your willingness
to work for them.
And now, swing to Melania's speech in 2016...
My parents impressed on me the
values: that you work hard for what you want in life. That your
word is your bond and you do what you say and keep your promise.
That you treat people with respect. They taught me to show the
values and morals in my daily life. That is the lesson that I
continue to pass along to our son.
And we need to pass those lessons on
to the many generations to follow. [Cheering] Because we want our
children in this nation to know that the only limit to your
achievements is the strength of your dreams and your willingness to
work for them.
While the speeches are not identical, they are clearly
Initially the Trump team denied all charges levelled by Twitter
users and the wider community regarding plagiarism. Melania said
that she wrote the speech herself with as little help as possible.
She was supported by Trump's Senior Communications Advisor,
Jason Miller, who released the following statement in the immediate
Staff writer and author of the now infamous speech, Meredith
McIver, penned a letter explaining the cause of her error and
offered her resignation which was refused on the grounds that
"people make innocent mistakes and that we learn and grow from
In Australia, copyright doesn't protect ideas, concepts,
techniques or styles but it does protect the way in which they are
conveyed and is automatic from the moment something is put into a
tangible form, and there are serious implications for infringement
– including damage to the authenticity and credibility of
your brand – as Melania is discovering and as set out below
Immediately after, the controversy surrounding Melania's
speech and subsequent finger pointing detracted from the Convention
itself. Denials from Melania and Jason showed a distinct lack of
accountability and process in checking the facts before responding
to accusations – further damaging credibility.
Trump has tried to make light of the issue, tweeting "Good
news is Melania's speech got more publicity than any in the
history of politics especially if you believe that all press is
good press!" however it remains to be seen if the American
public is willing to move on.
So, in short – if you're questioning whether something
you're producing is a little too close to another's work
then it's best to provide credit where credit is due. If you
don't, you may be lucky and only experience short-term
ramifications but do you really want to risk it? It takes just
moments to damage the goodwill and reputation that your brand has
established – not to mention the potential legal and
financial implications if you're caught passing off someone
else's work as your own.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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