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  • Viviane Nguyen

From “Copycat Music” to Plagiarism in Speech Making

The phenomenon of “copycat music” in Vietnam is prevalent among songwriters and singers where credit is not given to the original artists and plagiarism is unaccounted for. While plagiarism scandals continue to go unchecked in Vietnam, in the U.S., copyrights are protected and originality is highly regarded.

Recently, Richard Tran, the first and youngest Vietnamese American elected as Mayor of the City of Milpitas, CA, made headlines for plagiarizing his welcoming address nearly verbatim from President Obama’s victory address in 2008 without giving credit to the President.

In the realm of American politics, speech writing for a victory address or large convention garners a lot of attention and public scrutiny. While it is not uncommon to seek inspiration from famous Presidential speeches or even incorporate certain quotes, the public can quickly recognize plagiarism when they hear it. Local news outlets heard Tran's plagiarism loud and clear.

Per San Jose Inside, Tran stated his reasoning was out of respect and admiration for President Obama, even hoping that this plagiarism coverage by media outlets would go viral. In a Facebook post captured by The Mercury News, Tran wrote in the caption, “Coverage of my inauguration speech. Please help this go viral so I can fulfill my dream of meeting President Barack Obama. Thank you San Francisco Chronicle for reporting! #hope #change #YesWeCan #MilpitasMayor.”

In his subsequent reactions, Tran essentially equated his behavior to being a millennial and that it was characteristic of his generation to use social media, write hashtags, and aim for viral attention. Tran was moreover unapologetic for being caught red handed for plagiarism.

As a representative of Vietnamese Americans, the City of Milpitas, and millennials, Tran should strive to be accountable and aim for positive representation of these communities he identifies with. His actions, now and in the future, indirectly reflects the competency and readiness of future Vietnamese Americans and millennials as players in the local Bay Area political arena.

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Viviane Nguyen She is a lover of politics. She has researched and worked in different levels of government in San Jose, Sacramento, Washington D.C., and Thailand. She is motivated to highlight issues impacting the Vietnamese-American community and Asian American communities at large. She was formerly a Cal-in-Sacramento Fellow at UC Berkeley and notably a Public Policy and International Affairs Fellow at the Goldman School of Public Policy. She wants to write to show why politics, especially in 2016, is important.

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