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#StopBuzzThieves: Plagiarism in the digital age




The logo of news website BuzzFeed is seen on a computer screen in Washington on March 25, 2014.   AFP PHOTO/Nicholas KAMM        (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
The logo of news website BuzzFeed is seen on a computer screen in Washington on March 25, 2014. AFP PHOTO/Nicholas KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images

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The internet is filling up with Melania Trump memes. They exploded after an LA-based journalist recognized passages from a Michelle Obama speech in Trump's Monday night address at the GOP convention.

But she isn't the only one facing accusations of plagiarism. Buzzfeed video, an arm of the media powerhouse, Buzzfeed- is at the center of dozens of accusations.

A lot of these are coming from online content creators, who protest that Buzzfeed editors scour sites like YouTube, find interesting, funny videos and then remake them and publish them under the Buzzfeed brand. The claims have spawned the popular hashtag #StopBuzzThieves.

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But the accusations aren't stopping there. Last month, Gaby Dunn, an ex-Buzzfeed employee wrote an op-ed in Fusion in which she cautioned up-in-coming content creators to think twice before signing their image and ideas away to big corporations for free. In her op-ed, Dunn also pointed out Buzzfeed:

"...still own a Facebook fan page with my face on it. They can promote whatever they want there using my name and image...They could conceivably cut together all the videos I made for them into a series, sell that series for millions of dollars using my work and my name and likeness, and not give me a penny or tell me about it at all. All of this is 100% legal."

While many of the claims are troubling, some are ideas and concepts that have resonated in pop culture long before the internet was around. So, how do you define 'plagiarism' in the digital age where many ideas are shared?

Amara Aguilar, associate Professor of Professional practice of digital journalism at USC, joined the show to discuss this question and more.

To hear the full interview, click the blue play button above.