What Is Plagiarism and What Is Musical Plagiarism?

  • Samuel Cameron
Part of the Cultural Economics & the Creative Economy book series (CECE)


The distinction is made between musical and other plagiarism. The right to be recognised as an author is discussed with reference to moral rights, the theoretical idea of ‘death of the author’ and socialist principles. The role of expert testimony versus AI-style metrics in detecting academic plagiarism is discussed and the greater difficulty of reaching unambiguous decisions in musical cases is highlighted. The decision to plagiarise in terms of rational choice economics, in the form of the economics of crime literature, is appraised with respect to its behavioural applicability and the accuracy of its predictions. We move on to consider empirical evidence on unconscious plagiarism and self-plagiarism in academic work. Nine sources of cognitive bias are identified, which may systematically distort judgements about one’s own or others’ degree of plagiarism. The chapter concludes by looking at the thin statistical evidence. Proxy data for the growth in song output is used to estimate the growth rate in material available as a target for musical plagiarism. Some evidence is shown for the claim that recent decades have seen a marked upsurge in litigation.


Plagiarism Economics of crime Cryptomnesia Cognitive bias Growth in song production 


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© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Samuel Cameron
    • 1
  1. 1.BradfordUK

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