Updated: Aug 13, 2018
Plagiarism is a serious issue in a lot of different industries. If you want to make it anywhere, especially in journalism, you need to step out and have your own opinion that people will start to come back to time and time again. You build up trust with your audience and eventually your opinion starts to hold more weight.
One sniff of plagiarism and everything you’ve built is erased in a matter of seconds.
Recently in the gaming space, former IGN Nintendo editor Filip Miucin has been accused of plagiarism. Not only was he accused, he had pretty good evidence brought up against him as well.
In the court of public opinion and IGN’s as well, it was determined that Filip Miucin’s review of Dead Cells was a dead ringer for the review that BoomStick gaming had put out two weeks prior. Filip was promptly fired from IGN and Boomstick gaming gained about 50K subscribers.
Filip would go on to make a statement on YouTube skirting the claim that plagiarism took place. So was what he did actually plagiarism?
What is plagiarism?
The Oxford English Dictionary definition is “The action or practice of taking someone else’s work, idea, etc and passing it off as one’s own; literary theft”
When plagiarism is brought up, a lot of people think back to the first day of college English where the teacher would have a disclaimer in the syllabus about academic dishonesty and plagiarism. The most common type of plagiarism is taking a source and using it as your own without citing the source.
But plagiarism is much more complicated than copying someone’s paper and changing some paragraphs and layout to make it your own.
It’s about taking someones IDEA and making it appear to be your own.
Filip’s review of Dead Cells was different than boomstick’s review in some parts, but the overall IDEA that Dead Cells was a good game and why it was a good game was entirely Boomstick’s. The examples that were given, the likes and dislikes of the mechanics. All of those were lifted right from Boomstick’s review.
How to avoid plagiarism on YouTube
Plagiarism in gaming whether it be YouTube or legacy publication is a little harder to clearly avoid than traditional academia. There are a lot of games that are universally liked and it’s possible to come to the same opinion about those games independently. But there is a way to avoid it and Dreamcast Guy summed it up the best.
Don’t watch other reviews before writing your own.
Not only does it cloud your impressions about a game, but it increases the likelihood that you will lift that reviewer’s IDEA and pass it off as your own.
Filip Miucin admitted in his response video that this is how he reviews video games. In his mind, what he did wasn’t plagiarism, it’s just how his reviews are formed.
Plagerism isn’t just limited to reviews – in the YouTube space alone, it’s not uncommon for larger YouTubers to lift content ideas off smaller channels and then pass them off as their own to larger audiences.
What to do when you get accused of Plagiarism.
Like I said before, plagiarism is a huge deal and to even get accused of it is a death sentence depending on your industry.
If you do get accused of plagiarism and you did plagiarize, then you should admit it and strive to do better. Your audience is under no obligation to accept your apology or stick around for any future content. If this is your job, it’s highly likely that you will never work in that industry ever gain.
What you SHOULDN”T do if you plagiarize is excuse the behavior as if everyone else does it and you’re just the one that got caught.
Filip’s response to the claims of plagiarism (edit: He has since made the response private, but people have uploaded it and you can see it here. Double Edit - He's now throwing copyright strikes to anyone who uploads it on to YouTube. So here it is on Streamable) is a weak attempt to salvage whatever is left of his integrity. He doesn’t admit to the plagiarism, but he was sorry of the events that went down. He wouldn’t even apologize to Boomstick for stealing his review and passing it off as his own.
If you didn’t plagiarize, it’s best to let those accusing you provide the evidence and not to comment on it. If you didn’t plagiarize then it will be pretty apparent that you didn’t. I personally wouldn’t comment on any allegations whether they were true or not. That’s just me. The internet is a really brutal judge, jury and executioner. Even if you were right, it’s possible that commenting on it would be perceived as an admission of guilt.
In Filip’s response, he challenges Kotaku writer Jason Schrier to find evidence of any more plagiarism and 20 minutes after the video was posted, Jason delivered. If he had followed Rich from ReviewtechUSa’s advice of laying low, this issue of plagiarism probably would have blown over and Filip could have gone back to making videos and flying under the radar.
Plagiarism isn’t just copying a paper word for word. You can’t avoid plagiarism by just changing a handful of words and calling it a day. Filip has demonstrated a complete lack of understanding of what constitutes plagiarism. There are a lot of people who think the same way that Filip does – if it’s not 1:1 it’s perfectly fine and that’s a dangerous way to think when creating content.
I have had content that I made on reddit stolen from me without credit and it sucks. I have never had my YouTube ideas stolen from me but I would be devastated if that happened. I work very hard to come up with original content and if someone were to take those ideas and pass it off as their own, I wouldn’t have an easy time justifying moving on. Especially if that person who took it had a fanbase who would go to bat for them no matter the circumstances.
Boomstick gaming got LUCKY that it was an IGN writer that stole his content and not a more respected platform. If it had been someone with no previous reputation of unethical practices, I don’t think the internet would have been willing to go to stick up for the little guy.