Plagiarism isn’t just for procrastinating students or juvenile delinquents. Even high profile politicians, writers, artists and educators can be found guilty of plagiarism, whether it is on purpose or by accident. Check out these top 10 plagiarism scandals of all time that have affected some of the world’s most illustrious publications and individuals.

  1. Stephen Ambrose: Respected historian and writer Stephen Ambrose was the center of a major, highly publicized plagiarism scandal in 2002 after his book The Wild Blue: The Men and Boys Who Flew the B-24s over Germany was speculated to have been plagiarized from a 1995 book called Wings of Morning: The Story of the Last American Bomber Shot Down over Germany in World War II, by Thomas Childers, a history professor from the University of Pennsylvania. As Fred Barnes of The Weekly Standard notes, very specific stand-out phrases like "glittering like mica" appeared in both books, though Ambrose never directly quoted or acknowledged Childers’ book. Ambrose was harshly criticized, and the scandal was covered in various news stories, especially when Mark Lewis from Forbes.com found four more cases of plagiarism in other Ambrose books.
  2. Michael Bolton: Singer Michael Bolton was involved in a serious plagiarism lawsuit after his 1991 song "Love is a Wonderful Thing" was discovered to be "stolen" from the 1966 song by the Isley Brothers, reported EW.com. In 2000, the U.S. Ninth Circuit of Appeals fined Bolton $5.4 million, which Yahoo! reports "is the largest damages award ever made as the result of a music plagiarism case."
  3. Melissa Elias: Former New Jersey school board president Melissa Elias was accused of plagiarizing a commencement speech given by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Anna Quindlen, as part of Elias’ own commencement address to Madison High School in 2005. Elias resigned as school board president and eventually as a regular member of the school board, but she continued to talk about the scandal, seemingly insisting that she did nothing wrong.
  4. Barack Obama: During the presidential campaign of Barack Obama in February 2008, Obama was accused of plagiarizing a speech by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, given in October 2006. Obama’s speech, given in Wisconsin, included quotations from several other speeches, which he credited to Martin Luther King Jr. and John F. Kennedy, as well as a quotation from the Declaration of Independence. PlagiarismToday.com noted that after comparing Deval’s speech with Obama’s, one could see that Obama "used many of the same quotes as well as very similar phrasing." Obama apologized for not giving credit to Deval after the two had worked on his speech together, and Deval made a public announcement, calling the whole incident "unfair," and supporting Obama’s speech, according to Boston.com.
  5. Maureen Dowd: Respected, though controversial, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd was under fire when comparisons were drawn between a May 2009 column she wrote and a column written by TalkingPointsMemo.com editor Josh Marshall the week before. As PlagiarismToday.com reports, "the two paragraphs, both over 40 words, were identical save for one minor alteration." The Times backed Dowd, claiming it was all an accident. Dowd apologized online and said that a friend, who must have read Marshall’s column, helped her with her own column that week. Dowd was harshly criticized for the instance, however, since twenty-two years earlier, she had so fiercely pursued then-Presidential candidate Joe Biden for allegedly committing plagiarism.
  6. Kaavya Viswanathan: Kaavya Viswanathan was a Harvard sophomore who was featured in the New York Times for her book How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild and Got a Life, and then again when it was discovered that she plagiarized portions of the novel from two books by Megan McCafferty. Viswanathan apologized, saying that she was a "huge fan" of the books when she was in high school and that she "wasn’t aware of how much [she] may have internalized Ms. McCafferty’s words." Later, though, more plagiarized sections of Opal were discovered, this time from a book by Sophie Kinsella.
  7. The Catcher in the Rye sequel: One of the most iconic books in American literary history, The Catcher in the Rye, spawned a sketchy spin-off by an anonymous writer "J. D. California." J.D. Salinger sued the author and is fighting to have the book — called Coming Through the Rye — banned in the U.S. It is already being sold in England, and the anonymous author claims his version is just a parody, while Salinger believes it is plagiarism.
  8. Nada Behziz: In 2005, reporter Nada Behziz was fired from The Californian of Bakersfield for plagiarism and for inventing sources. Her editors at The Californian found several instances of plagiarism in various pieces, sparking Behziz’s former editors at the Daily Republic, where she worked two years earlier, to investigate pieces she wrote for them. The Daily Republic found at least two pieces that included plagiarism, while "more than a third" of her pieces for The Californian were plagiarized, according to the blog Narcissistic Views on News/Politics.
  9. Jayson Blair: Jayson Blair’s plagiarism scandal commanded lots of attention after he was found to have "committed frequent acts of journalistic fraud while covering significant news events" for the New York Times, his own paper reported in 2003. Blair resigned from the Times while editors checked over 600 of his articles spanning four years of employment with the paper. Editors found that Blair had fabricated stories, invented quotes and even manipulated photographs in support of his pieces.
  10. Lloyd Brown: In 2004, The Florida Times-Union issued a "task force" to investigate plagiarism in the paper’s editorials, and found instances dating back to 1996. The editorial page director Lloyd Brown resigned, though he maintained that he never intended to steal anyone’s work.
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