Jul 21, 2016

Plagiarism – the greatest form of flattery?

Following the announcement on Monday that Donald Trump had officially been chosen as the Republican party's nominee for president his wife, Melania, delivered a speech at the Republican National Convention.  The speech provided Melania with an opportunity to speak about her husband's values and was well received by supporters.

However, soon after her speech journalists, feeling a sense of déjà vu, compared to a speech delivered by Michelle Obama in 2008 at the Democratic Convention, where she spoke about family values and the necessity to work hard.

Journalist Jarret Hill noticed the similarities between the speeches following which he tweeted about the comparison.  Within hours of its airing his tweet received thousands of retweets.

Certain parts of Melania's speech are very similar to Michelle's as shown below:

Michelle Obama

"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," Obama.

"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."

Melania Trump

"From a young age, 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 and showed me values and morals in their daily life. That is a lesson that I continue to pass along to our son, and we need to pass those lessons on to the many generations to follow, 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."

Before the controversy broke Melania claimed to have written the speech with very little help.  However, following calls to confirm the creation of the speech, advisors have reversed this claim and said that it was actually written by a team of speech writers.

In the wake of the news one of Melina's team, Meredith Mclver, has offered her resignation over the plagiarism claims.  McIver said that she asked Melania about who inspired her and Melina had read passages from Michelle's speech to provide an example of the tone she wanted to set.  The Trumps have not accepted McIver's resignation and have said that no one will be fired.

The Republican National Convention chief strategist has defended Melania and her speech writers saying that the similarities were coincidence and that the speeches merely shared common phrases and sentiments.  He likened the similarities to Twilight Sparkle from My Little Pony telling children "Anything you can do in your dreams, you can do now."

Claims of political speech plagiarism is not new and a number of politicians have been accused of plagiarism in the past. In 1988, Joe Biden was accused of plagiarising the then Labour party leader Neil Kinnock's speech.  In February 2008 Barack Obama was accused of plagiarism when he made a speech which was very similar to a speech made in 2006 by Deval Patrick, the Massachusetts governor.

Although it could be an infringement of copyright it is highly unlikely that the Obama's will take any further action; the negative attention being enough of a 'win' for the Democrats.

Posted by: in: Copyright, News

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