Famous Plagiarism Cases That Will Surprise You

Plagiarism isn’t just for us ordinary folk. Several celebrities have committed acts of plagiarism that will leave you saying wow. You would think that they (or their people) would know better. Apparently this isn’t the case.

Here are some famous plagiarism cases that you should take as a cautionary tale.

Famous Plagiarism Cases That Will Amaze You

1. Melania Trump

Melania Trump is perhaps the most high profile and most scandalous recent act of plagiarism.

Her speech at the Republican National Convention was accused of being similar to Michelle Obama’s 2008 DNC speech.

Mrs. Trump was subject to widespread condemnation, although her speechwriter took responsibility for what happened.

2. Martin Luther King Jr.

He may have had a dream, but he also had a problem with a lack of citations. Many of his works found in academic journals, essays, speeches, and other writing were discovered to be plagiarized.

It has been claimed that in the 1950s Martin Luther King Jr. plagiarized some of his doctoral thesis at Boston University. Some of his speeches are thought to plagiarized as well.

It has since come out that portions of Dr. King’s thesis were taken from someone else’s dissertation.

3. Alex Haley

Even best-selling authors have been known to borrow other people’s work. Alex Haley, author of Roots, was accused of plagiarism, as he borrowed from the things that he learned in college as a student activist.

Years after the publication of Roots, Haley admitted that he had plagiarized material from another source for the book.

Roots was a story about his family’s ancestry.

4. Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell has made his name as an author and pundit in recent years. One of his most famous books is The Tipping Point. But it turns out that he copied many of the ideas from a sociology professor without citing his work.

The Tippling Point has sold 1.7 million copies and has appeared on several bestseller lists.

Johnny Cash
Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

5. Johnny Cash

It’s not just writing and speeches that can be plagiarized. Country legend Johnny Cash was accused of plagiarizing the lyrics for “I Walk the Line” . It is said these are from a song called “Big River” sung by a radio station DJ, Pat McManus.

He was also said to have “borrowed” lyrics and the music for “Folsom Prison Blues” from certain musicians, including Willie Dixon.

6. President Joe Biden

Plagiarism is happening on both sides of the political divide. President Joe Biden has been criticized multiple times for plagiarizing passages of speeches as well as taking credit for authors’ work.

Apparently, the president has a long history of this. He was of accused of plagiarism while at university.

There is even a website, the Plagiarism website has a database of all of Biden’s plagiarisms.

7. JRR Tolkien

We couldn’t end this list without talking about at least one literary example. Tokien is said to have borrowed elements of The Lord of the Rings from Richard Wagner’s operas.

Today, he’s recognized as one of the best fantasy authors ever. But at the time, it was considered plagiarism.

To Wrap Up

Celebrities are supposed to set an example. Sometimes, the example they set is how not to do things. These famous plagiarism cases show in a lot of ways, they’re just like us.

Pam is an expert grammarian with years of experience teaching English, writing and ESL Grammar courses at the university level. She is enamored with all things language and fascinated with how we use words to shape our world.

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