In an interview, she [Blum] said the idea of an author whose singular effort creates an original work is rooted in Enlightenment ideas of the individual. It is buttressed by the Western concept of intellectual property rights as secured by copyright law. But both traditions are being challenged.
“Our notion of authorship and originality was born, it flourished, and it may be waning,” Ms. Blum said.
During the Renaissance, I am quite certain that William Shakespeare was regarded as the originator of his works. I am also quite certain that before it was burned down by order of the Archbishop of Alexandria, the scrolls in the Library of Alexandria had authors listed for most of the works. We know that Euclid's Elements was Euclid's, we know that Sappho's poems were Sappho's, and we know that Aristotle's Organon was Aristotle's.
A person who downloads a piece of music, a book or a movie through peer-to-peer software does not hand in that song, movie or book to a professor and claim to be the creator. While copyright and intellectual property laws may have influenced our ideas about authorship and originality, a song by Madonna is a song by Madonna, regardless of how a person obtains it--no filesharer would ever claim that a song by Madonna was not a song by Madonna just because it was downloaded through p2p software.
While there are probably people who plagiarize on this campus who also use peer-to-peer software, I bet there are also people who plagiarize assignments who don't
use peer-to-peer software--and, more importantly, people who use peer-to-peer software and don't plagiarize assignments. It doesn't follow that increased access to information results in increased plagiarism.
The best solution for plagiarism is for the professor to explain to the student how what the student did constitutes plagiarism (something Drew students are drilled on in the Writing requirement course) and then give the plagiarizing student a failing grade for the assignment. If the student plagiarizes a second time, a failing grade for the course. If a student fails more than one course due to plagiarism, expulsion may be in order. How has this system not worked in the past?