Sunday, April 6, 2014

CRAP, Plagiarism, and You




For this week, we are reading about the CRAP principles and how they relate to the final project. CRAP is a major component of graphic design, and stands for Contrast, Repetition, Alignment, and Proximity. They are the ground rules that should be followed while designing something visual, and help to increase the quality of the finished work. Below is a link to a comedy short that demonstrates why not following these guidelines would be a bad move.




This comedy short draws some of its humor from the lack of CRAP design principles in the protagonists PowerPoint presentation. The largest offense is the inconsistent font size and the apparent randomness of the word placement. Of course, there are other obvious aspects that could be improved upon, such as the general blandness of the color and font choices as well. However, there are some redeeming qualities of the presentation. 

Prompt 1: After watching the comedy short posted above, point out at least one of the CRAP principles the “TRUCK SALES” PowerPoint adheres to.

Another subject that is covered this week is the proper method of doing research. We are tasked with watching various infographics and videos that explain the basic concepts of academic research. One of the videos discusses what plagiarism is, and how to avoid it. Avoiding plagiarism is one of the main concerns while doing research for the final project, and careful steps must be taken to avoid doing it, intentionally or otherwise.






One famous case of plagiarism has to do with the band Led Zeppelin, and how they allegedly copied the work of other musicians. Some say that the band outright stole the music from past performers, while others claim they adapted the music into a different, more modern style. Above is a video comparing the work of Led Zeppelin to those they allegedly stole from.  

Prompt 2: This week we ask you to post other cases of plagiarism, famous or otherwise, and discuss whether it was intentional or simply a mistake. If it was a mistake, what could they have done differently to avoid plagiarizing?

Prompt 3: The quote by Herbert Simon listed on the homepage of UML’s Know How website states:“…the wealth of information means a dearth of something else; a scarcity of whatever it is that information consumes. What information consumes is rather obvious; it consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention, and a need to allocate that attention efficiently among the overabundance of information sources that might consume it.” -Herbert Simon. What exactly does this mean to you? Do you agree or disagree? What are some examples that directly support his argument within the website? Are there other relative examples you can come up with on your own? Share and discuss your arguments and ideas.​

Here is a link to the Cracked video in case the above link is broken : http://www.cracked.com/video_18699_the-most-terrifying-powerpoint-presentation-ever.html 

24 comments:

  1. An EDM EnthusiastApril 7, 2014 at 10:38 AM

    Posting as Justin Loranger:

    Prompt 2: One case of unintentional plagiarism due to an unlicensed audio sample was when Three Loco (composed of Andy Milonakis, Riff Raff, and Simon Rex. Diplo is also featured in their song, titled "We Are Farmers" which samples Farmer's Insurance Group's "We Are Farmers, bum ba dum bum bum bum bum". The video received a cease & desist, but somehow the video was reposted on Youtube again.

    The MP3/Digital Audio file of the song was available online for a short time before it was taken offline too.

    I believe that due to the raunchy lyrics and parody-like acts portrayed in the music video, Farmer's Insurance Group did not want their name or catchphrase attached to this song, rightly so. I'm not sure there is any way that Three Loco could have avoided this, other than to not use the sample of "We Are Farmers", because I do not believe that FIG would license the sample to them.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cb9XTK3_n2Y

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  2. Prompt 2
    One case of plagiarism I found interesting was in 2009 a man named Adrian Jacobs sued the publishers of J.K. Rowling because he claimed that a lot of what happened in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was very similar to his book The Adventures of Willy the Wizard: Livid Land. The case was eventually dismissed.

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  3. An EDM EnthusiastApril 8, 2014 at 12:04 PM

    I posted a comment yesterday about Three Loco, Farmer's Insurance Agency, and "We Are Farmers" the song and the comment posted but now it is deleted?

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  4. An EDM EnthusiastApril 8, 2014 at 12:07 PM

    Apparently it was marked as spam?

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  5. An EDM EnthusiastApril 8, 2014 at 12:07 PM

    Posting as Justin Loranger:

    Prompt 2: One case of unintentional plagiarism due to an unlicensed audio sample was when Three Loco (composed of Andy Milonakis, Riff Raff, and Simon Rex. Diplo is also featured in their song, titled "We Are Farmers" which samples Farmer's Insurance Group's "We Are Farmers, bum ba dum bum bum bum bum". The video received a cease & desist, but somehow the video was reposted on Youtube again.

    The MP3/Digital Audio file of the song was available online for a short time before it was taken offline too.

    I believe that due to the raunchy lyrics and parody-like acts portrayed in the music video, Farmer's Insurance Group did not want their name or catchphrase attached to this song, rightly so. I'm not sure there is any way that Three Loco could have avoided this, other than to not use the sample of "We Are Farmers", because I do not believe that FIG would license the sample to them.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cb9XTK3_n2Y

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  6. Dani,

    I found an article talking about the case. The case was based on the fact that they were wizards, rescuing hostages, a magic train, and prison. These were the allegations. Adrian Jacobs is dead, but his son and grandson (his estate) decided to sue J.K. Rowling.

    Apparently, the case was finished because the estate didn't pay money for security costs. They also tried to take the case into the U.S. which was rejected.

    I wonder what constitutes plagiarism in literature. There were similarities in the book, but I don't think there was enough for the reason to be successful in court though. What do you think Dani?

    I'm including the links to the articles I read.

    -Kaylen

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-1193283/JK-Rowling-sued-500m-plagiarism-lawsuit-family-late-Willy-The-Wizard-author.html

    http://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-14187849

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  7. Matthew HannafordApril 8, 2014 at 4:02 PM

    I watched the video for the powerpoint presentation from Cracked. Definitely made me feel better at presenting by comparison! Anyhow, one thing the powerpoint did right was certainly C - consistency. Every slide was the same design and I felt that the text worked well with the background. Apart from the presenter having a mental breakdown, the powerpoint itself looked professional in terms of it's overall design, even though it had nothing in terms of content

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  8. Yeah I remember this song. I find it funny that all they had to do to avoid a copyright was removing the "We are Farmers" sample. The beat and lyrics are still the same, and you can still totally tell they used the "We are Farmers" jingle as a sample. Its weird how copyright laws work.

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  9. Yeah that's a pretty good point. The presentation itself is horrid but the powerpoint he used isn't totally worthless. I guess it goes to show how much the proper design of a powerpoint counts!

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  10. I found an interesting case of plagiarism. Radiohead was sued by Albert Hammond and Mike Hazelwood becuase the band's hit song "Creep" was very similar in chord progression and vocal melodies to a song written by those two in the 1970's. Following the lawsuit, Radiohead was forced to give them credit as co-writers of the song.

    http://www.fuse.tv/2013/07/famous-songs-sued-plagiarism#8

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  11. There seems to be a lot of plagiarism going on in the music industry. I wonder how much is accidental and how much is deliberate?

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  12. Brittany CaldwellApril 9, 2014 at 9:07 AM

    Prompt #2

    While searching for plagiarism cases, I came upon Helen Keller. Apparently when she was 11 years old, she was accused of plagiarizing a story she had wrote while attending the Perkins School for the Blind. This accusation greatly affected her, causing her to ultimately leave the school and never return. She eventually forgave school officials years later and donated many of her personal braille materials to the institution and obviously became a huge icon for the school.

    http://www.perkins.org/vision-loss/helen-keller/

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  13. An EDM EnthusiastApril 9, 2014 at 9:32 AM

    Flosstradamus is a duo of trap producers that are notorious for blatantly stealing tracks from other artists, stripping down components, re-drumming, then releasing them as originals.

    This video details the songs they have stolen from:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iwdO1oTpMKQ

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  14. I would wonder the same thing.

    One example where I think it was an extremely deliberate copying of music was Vanilla Ice's "Ice Ice Baby." The instrumentals are exactly the same as David Bowie's "Under Pressure," with only a minor tweak to avoid plagiarism. Vanilla Ice later admitted that they were the same, except for an added 'ping' that made it different from the other song. Although he may have gotten away with this because the lyrics are different and there is an added sound, however small it may be, I think that it is more of a question of whether it is morally right or wrong.

    Another example where I think that it was more accidental was Avril Lavigne's "Girlfriend," which she was later sued for by the Rubinoos', who came out with a song in 1979 called "I Want to be Your Boyfriend." The choruses of the song are very similar, but it seems to have been accidental on the part of Avril Lavigne. Other than the chorus, the songs do not sound much alike. Another thing to point out would be the time difference between the two songs. Avril Lavigne wasn't born until 1984, years after the song by the Rubinoos came out. It's possible that she had never even heard the song and was unaware that it had been plagiarized by her lyricist.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uGd1NR11MaY

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bg59q4puhmg

    Do you think artists should be held responsible for plagiarism if they bought their songs from a lyricist? Or should the lyricist be responsible if there are any legal repercussions?

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  15. Interesting point, Kaylen! It seems really difficult to have a definition that explicitly states what constitutes as plagiarism in literary works. This appears to be a huge gray area in copy writing. There are various cases where writers accuse other writers of copying their ideas and stories. Can anyone think of some other significant examples to add to Kaylen and Danielle?

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  16. A great example of plagiarism Brittany, because Keller's case demonstrates one of the causes of plagiarism. Rather than willfully copying someone's work, the article about the Keller case suggests that Keller had learned/memorized the story to the point where it felt like it was her creation.
    Often, students (or even professional writers out in the field) read something somewhere and commit it to memory. Then, when writing on that subject, that point comes to mind. Plagiarism happens when we forget to attribute that idea or phrase to the original source.

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  17. I believe that the lyricist should be mostly responsible for the plagiarism of the songs. While the artists should be smart enough to know that the songs may be copied, ultimately the song writers are the ones that performed the copying.

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  18. Matt--I think you are pointing out R-repetition (which is the same thing as consistency really). The design of the slides stays consistent throughout the presentation. It looks like a standard Microsoft PowerPoint template.
    The C stands for principle of graphic design called Contrast, which I think the PowerPoint also does a good job of. It is easy to read the font because the background design is light. Furthermore, the freaked-out presenter's tone of voice is reflected by contrasts in the font size. Things that he yells are larger than things that he whispers. This is a way to visually support what he is saying.
    That said, a PowerPoint presentation should never just reflect exactly what you are saying :-)

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  19. Well, there are explicit rules about plagiarism in terms of literature, like the fact that you cannot copy phrases/sections of a work and pass them off as your own. Also, you cannot copy whole plot lines with specific characters.
    However, what I think you are pointing out Erin is the fact that some settings/plot lines are repeated again and again in literary works. In fact, they become "genres." Like the "mystery" genre where there is always a problem and someone has to solve it.
    In this case (that I was previously not aware of--thanks Dani and Kaylen) it appears like the court may have believed that "wizards" and "trains" and "contests" were too generic to be considered owned as original ideas of a particular person.
    That said, the case was dismissed because of financial issues, not an actual court decision. So maybe it is still up for debate. The financial issue makes me think of our conversation about copyright issues last week on the blog. Justice costs money.

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  20. Brittany CaldwellApril 10, 2014 at 6:04 PM

    Professor Vinson,
    This prompt got me thinking about a fictional story that I once wrote during my freshmen year of college. I decided to go back and read it. What I discovered was that it was extremely similar to the show Gossip Girl (which was very popular at this time). I had submitted the work and never thought twice about plagiarism. This was completely unintentional and it scares me to think of how many other stories I may have done this with without even realizing it. I feel like when you read a series of books or watch season after season of a show, you feel like you become apart of it, or at least I do. Makes me question whether any of my ideas have been original or have come from something else. I better be more careful!


    Great prompt this week, bloggers:)

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  21. Brittany AndersenApril 10, 2014 at 7:49 PM

    Prompt #2:

    One case of copyright infringement that I found revolves around Alicia Keys’ hit song “Girl on Fire.” In December 2012, Keys was accused of copying songwriter Earl Shuman’s 1962 “Lonely Boy.” In 1970, Shuman’s song was recorded (with permission and rights) by renowned R&B artist Eddie Holman. During the recording process, the song’s name was changed to "Hey There Lonely Girl.” When Keys’ song released in 2012, Shuman noticed similarities between “Girl on Fire” and “Hey There Lonely Girl.” Shuman claimed that Keys’ song was an “uncredited sample” of his work, as it allegedly features a few lines from his composition (Rolling Stone).

    After listening to both songs, I only found one distant similarity. In Shuman’s song, the lyrics frequently detail a lonely girl: “Oh my lonely girl, lonely girl, don't you know this lonely boy loves you?” (Holman). In Keys’ song, she also refers to a lonely girl: "nobody knows that it's a lonely girl, and it's a lonely world.” While the idea of a “lonely girl” is present, I don’t believe Keys intentionally copied or was even influenced by Shuman’s song. Keys does not directly quote Shuman’s song or use “lonely girl” in the same context.

    Do you think Shuman was right in his claims? Do you find the two songs similar?

    -Brittany

    Eddie Holman - "Hey There Lonely Girl"
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3lscp1GCjUQ

    Alicia Keys - "Girl on Fire"
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J91ti_MpdHA

    Citations:
    -Rolling Stones Article: http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/alicia-keys-hit-with-copyright-lawsuit-over-girl-on-fire-20121217

    -All videos retrieved from YouTube

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  22. An example of plagiarism I was able to find is with two songs, Gordon Jenkin's " Crescent City Blues" and Johnny Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues". Gordon Jenkins sued Johnny Cash and Cash had to pay 75,000$ for using the lyrics and melody from Jenkins original song. I found this interesting as a lot of you are most likely familiar with the plagiarized song by Johnny Cash, but have never heard the original which it was ripped off from. While to me the songs don't sound extremely alike, Cash used exact lyrics from Jenkin's song such as the opening lyric "I hear the train-a-comin, it's rollin' round the bend" and a very similar melody, which was enough for the courts to determine he did in-fact plagiarize. It's sad to think how , due to Johnny Cash's popularity, most people will never even know about the original song which Cash popularized and made so much money off of. It makes me wonder if Cash plagiarized any other songs and if this case of plagiarism even affected his career and popularity at all, because I had heard nothing bad about Johnny Cash until I found this case. Folsom Prison Blues was one of my favorite songs from Johnny Cash so I was shocked to learn it was plagiarized in this manner.

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  23. I find the claims to be false. Its one thing if a song is a total ripoff, but the similarities between these two are fleeting. Its a shame that these two types of claims are treated the same way.

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  24. Wow, this is news to me. I love Johnny Cash, yet never knew he plagiarized. While I don't think it totally ruins his reputation, it certainly didn't help. I'm pretty sure he didn't write all of his songs, so I wonder if someone else wrote "Folsom Prison Blues". Then again it is a fair possibility that Cash did indeed plagiarize the song and possibly many others.

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