Sometimes, people receive inspiration for their work from various sources. Other times, people accused of stealing the work of others are completely innocent and they end up fighting in cases because of malicious persons who seek personal gain. Whatever the reason, authors, politicians, activists, producers and so on have been the subject of plagiarism. No profession has been spared, and the advanced technology of today makes it easier to identify real thieves from blameless people. Take a look at some of the most famous cases that took place in recent times.
1. J.R.R. Tolkien
This might seem surprising to some of you, but the author of the popular fantasy series was accused of plagiarism. J.R.R. Tolkien is among the famous people accused of stealing the work of others because the trilogy borrowed elements from the Ring of the Nibelung opera by Richard Wagner. Even though Tolkien denied basing his work on the famous opera, it is well known that he studied thoroughly the composer’s work before he started writing his own trilogy. In this case, we might say that the author found his inspiration in Wagner’s work.
2. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Our next entry is truly one of the most unexpected people accused of stealing the work of others. King is well known for his activism and influence on the movement regarding Civil Rights in America. One of the most influential people in history, King seems to have copied certain parts of his dissertation from other sources. The fact was discovered when his widow donated the document to King Paper’s Project, when some scholars verified the work and reached this conclusion. Fortunately, this discovery did not have a great negative impact on King’s image.
3. J.K. Rowling
We have become used to hearing accusations of plagiarism every time a successful book is released. The Harry Potter series was not spared from this controversy. Back in 2010, J.K. Rowling was accused that she stole ideas from The Adventures of Willy the Wizard, a book by Adrian Jacobs that was published in 1987. The representative of the estate of the late author claimed that Rowling’s fourth volume in the series included similar plots to Jacobs’ book. Fortunately, Rowling managed to win the case. However, Adrian Jacobs’ estate attempted to sue the author in many different countries, but did not achieve success.
4. Barack Obama
After writers and activists, it is time to turn our attention to politicians. President Barrack Obama was first accused during the presidential campaign in 2008. Hillary Clinton, his main rival at the time, claimed that Obama plagiarized some parts of the speech he held in Wisconsin. Obama admitted that he should have credited Governor Deval Patrick, but also that the two were good friends who shared ideas for that particular speech. Governor Patrick defended Obama and thus his campaign was not affected by the malicious accusation. In the end, he became president of the United States, but also vowed to be more careful in the future.
5. Dan Brown
Lastly, we return to another writer among the people accused of stealing the work of others. Dan Brown probably expected to create controversies with his book The Da Vinci Code. However, a whole case was brought against the author twice. Firstly, writers Richard Lee and Michael Baigent claimed he stole themes from The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail book. Secondly, Brown was accused by Lewis Perdue of plagiarizing his book Daughter of God which was published in 2000. Dan Brown won the first case and was spared from the second, because the Supreme Court refused to hear the case of Perdue. However, he never retracted the accusations.