To the editor,
The purpose of this letter is to address the recent controversy concerning the letter to the editor from Mr. Trey Orndorff and the subsequent story about it written by Lori Cox.
Copyright law does not state that something must be published in order for it to be copyrighted. To write or create something (text, image, etc.) original means that it is protected under copyright law. However, plagiarism is a completely different matter, though the distinction is subtle.
Plagiarism, as defined by Webster’s New World Dictionary of the American Language, Second Edition, means to take ideas, writings, etc. and pass them off as one’s own. Messrs. Orndorff did plagiarize the article from Front Page Magazine.com. There is no question. The similarities are overwhelming! Squabbling over copyright law is of no consequence in this matter. Ignorance is no excuse, anyway.
The issue of whether or not one can adopt the ideas of another is also irrelevant. No one can be blamed for hearing or reading something, agreeing with it, and accepting it into his or her belief system. The issue is the acknowledgement of the source, the person with the original idea.
Why was Harold Orndorff (Trey’s father) making contributions to a student publication, anyway? This is glaringly inappropriate.
I am disgusted by Harold Orndorff’s defense of, “Technically, you can’t plagiarize a letter to the editor.” Mr. Orndorff, plagiarism does not have to be official to be plagiarism. On him saying that The Northerner “should leave students alone who express their opinion,” all I can say is that, in Trey’s letter to the editor, Trey was mostly expressing someone else’s opinion.
Unlike Harold Orndorff, I am glad the authenticity of the letter was scrutinized. I would like to offer my thanks to Lori Cox and those at The Northerner who contributed in any way to her story. I am thankful you gave us the truth. After all, what is the job of a newspaper if not to report the truth?
-Daniel Moore Junior, photography