"Every chapter I stole from somewhere else. Index I copy from old Vladivostok telephone directory." -- Tom Lehrer, "Lobachevsky"
Despite Lehrer's lampoon, there is no evidence that the real-life Nikolai Ivanovich Lobachevsky was a plagiarist. But in the real world, there are many (who have probably never even heard of Lehrer) who take his advice to "plagiarise... only be sure always to call it please, 'research'" a bit too literally.
When a previously unknown Kaavya Vishwanathan does it, it makes headlines. When The Hindu's movie reviewer Gautaman Bhaskaran does it, it is quickly forgotten. When Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz does it, it is largely ignored (and he is exonerated by a former Harvard president).
So what does one do when an undergraduate student does it?
Now and then I take on undergraduates who want to do a short-term project. Three times now I have had students submitting documents to me (twice a project report, once a project proposal) which were crude cut-and-pastes from web sites or review articles. Thanks to the internet and Google, it is easy to do this (I'm told this is how a lot of homework is now done in schools). But Google works for me too -- it helps me confirm my suspicions. (Why would I suspect anything? Perhaps because, after all, I am familiar with these students' command of written English...)
The first time, the students were suitably abashed and turned in more original material. The second time, the student didn't seem to think it was wrong, and later emailed me saying his college doesn't object and it's "only" a preliminary report; luckily he decided not to continue working with me. As for the third time, I'm still awaiting a response... but the copying was so blatant (and it was from a review article that I had supplied!) that, again, I suspect the student didn't think it was wrong.
Why do they all seem to think it is acceptable, even expected, to write with a mouse? Is it because our educational system encourages students to "mug up" answers and reproduce them verbatim?