The controversy over writer Nate Thayer’s failure to credit his sources, which some alleged amounted to plagiarism, is just part of an ongoing debate over how we use — and give credit for — information in a digital age.
The problem is that while adding hyperlinks is a great way of avoiding a charge of plagiarism — something that might have helped Fox News opinion writer Juan Williams and other alleged plagiarists — there is no accepted protocol for how or where to add those links, or how much content someone can cut and paste into their story or blog post without crossing the line from borrowing into plagiarism or copyright infringement.
In my experience, people usually don't consciously decide to plagiarize, but they may end up plagiarizing "by accident" because they run out of time, or they get confused about the assignment, or maybe they copy-and-paste, intending to go back and edit later but forgetting to do so. Every time that I have seen plagiarism in an assignment, the person swore that the plagiarism happened "by accident." That does not change the fact of the matter: plagiarism, even when it happens by accident, is still plagiarism, and the consequences are serious. It's like when you are caught speeding or running a red light: it doesn't matter if you did not know you were speeding or if you did not notice the red light - you are still going to get a ticket.