A literary or art work copied from others will be seen through no matter how skillfully it is disguised in a new form. That’s because you cannot assume to have the “soul” of the original. You think you’ve changed it into the soul of your work. But you can’t. It’s a pity that yours is not an original piece of work after all.
Take a painting for an example. Just a glance as it can give some idea of its source. One can easily detect how it is delineated. The source from which the figure’s facial expression if copied can also be traced.
The painting shows a migratory worker from farmland squatting at a corner of a city. He looks at people coming into and going out of luxurious places. Those people are depicted vividly, some big-bellied, some slender and coquettish, some radiant with joy and some full of pride and satisfaction. That worker is also vividly delineated: his expression on his face and in his eyes, his clothing and his bodily attitude are all true to life—showing the real living status of such a worker. Those magnificent houses are products of workers like him. It was they who had built them brick by brick and tile by tile until the construction work is finished by final decoration. That’s also time for him to go, he had no right to stay and enjoy the fruit of his labor.
The idea to portray such a scene is praiseworthy, and the painting is also skillfully produced, but it is not qualified for a prize of creation. The reason is very simple: it is a product of plagiarism. A foreign painter had produced earlier a picture of a circus clown squatting wearily at a corner near the gate, looking at the audience leaving after the end of the show. They went away paying no attention at all to the clown who had caused them a lot of laughter.
So we see what plagiarism is, it’s not what we call “draw on the achievement of others”.