Unfortunately, once you work in the academia you face such side effects of research/publications such as plagiarism. 30 years ago was less as there was no Internet and open access to publications all over the world.
However, nowadays it is quite common to find some interesting idea in some paper, journal, book or website and include the work totally or partially in your work and "sell it" as your own product. You can do it, and many guys do so. It is immoral, unethical and unprofessional. However, either we like it or not it exists and it will never disappear. However, we should not tolerate such misconduct.
A few years ago, university personnel realized that many assignment handed in by the students were just some "copy-paste" works as we would say nowadays. They downloaded some existing documents publicly available on the Internet, change the author and the affiliation and "voila" the magic. There is nothing wrong to use some others work but at least a reference (citation) or a quotation mark is mandatory. To avoid such things, please refer to the guideline provided by the University of Washington.
A regrettable plagiarism scandal started a few days ago, here in Germany. The main "actor" was Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, the young, promising Minister of Defense of Germany in the second cabinet of chancellor Angela Merkel. First, once he was accused of plagiarism he stated not to use his doctor title temporally, but once the allegations were investigated by the University of Bayreuth the title was revoked permanently. Doing such a thing is immoral and reveals a certain type of conduct but even worse, the guy is a lawyer and the "borrowed" many unattributed passages from others. There are no proper words to characterize this... I would also question the implication of the supervisor, Prof. D-Jur. Peter Haberle who qualified the thesis as "summa cum laude". Either he was not aware what kind of work is he grading either he was part of the mascarade. In both cases, the particular quilt should be defined as the role of such a supervisor is to guide and lead the PhD candidate.
Interestingly, it seems, even though the German society is divided on the question, it is not affecting the political carrier of the young minister, a possible successor of the current chancellor seen by some political analysts. Even the chancellor Merkel, herself being as well a scientist, supports still zu Guttenberg.
The question is, even though he is a very popular politician, showing such wrongdoing raise many ethical questions. Can we trust anymore such a cheater? Is the Bundestag tolerating such plagiarism at the highest level? Can be a lazy, cheating so-called scientist be a remarkable public servant? Is he gone face any legal consequences? Is possible to sue him for this plagiarism? All these questions should be discussed sooner or later ....
Ps. The author of this blog entry also detected such a plagiarism attempt during a scientific paper review. Of course he managed to stop it right on time!