I always hail the Internet as being the greatest invention in the modern era, for the reason that it provides us with information, and maybe knowledge, that was simply unthinkable in the pre-Cyberspace times. Back then, it was very difficult, if not impossible, to find information as simple as the lyrics of a song. To do some serious research, one would have to refer to an encyclopedia or go to the library. One might have to spend a whole day searching, taking notes or photocopying, and if he is unlucky, he effort might be futile.
Now, everything is just a Google or Wikipedia search away.
And that, some say, is exactly where the problem lies. Apart from the fact that there is no quality control regarding the information we may find because everyone can publish, the abundance and availability of information means it has never been easier to plagiarise - to take other people's work and claim it as one's own. It's a simple matter of copying and pasting, what a recent BBC online article called the "Ctrl+C Ctrl+V boom". The most high profile case of plagiarism recently is German defence minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg stepping down after it was found out that he had lifted large parts of his doctorate thesis without attribution. He has been mockingly called zu Googleberg because of that.
I have to say that I have used the Ctrl+C Ctrl+V keys quite a lot too, including in the process of writing this, but I wouldn't say that I plagiarise, as it is only the facts that I use, and I when I quote, I either put the idea in quotation or acknowledge the source. I express my ideas rather than take those of others. But I do realise that there is a fine line between paraphrasing and plagiarising. That is where a software programme such as Turnitin, which universities use to analyse suspicious essays, comes in.