Going back hundreds of years ago, there were no patent offices or ways to protect one’s own ideas. As a result, it was easy for people to steal ideas from one another. That being said, it does not mean that the stolen product would be any good. A perfect examples of this is the “Bad Quarto” which is a pirated version of Shakespeare’s play Hamlet.
You can find a copy of it here.
One of the most significant differences between the First Quarto and the Bad one is the difference in character names. The adviser to the king is called Corambis instead of Polonius. The Bad Quarto has a character named Cornelia. It is easy to tell the difference in quality between the Quartos. Although I would not exactly call the Bad Quarto laughably bad, I still feel that the difference in quality would have a significant impact on the play. For example, instead of having a character named Francisco in the beginning of the play, the name “First Sentinel” is used instead. Once again, I can almost physically feel the rift in quality as there is an absence in a character to the play.
Another difference between the Quartos is the stage directions. At one point the Ghost is told to move under the stage. This does not make sense to me because everyone in that scene already knows about the ghost, so there is no need to hide. Also, why would the ghost move under the stage if he still has dialogue (which he has). Without a doubt, there were some major confusions when this person tried to pirate the play. Perhaps, he or she did hear it correctly. Or maybe, their seat was not good enough to see the stage, so they simply guessed on the positions of character.
If I had to pick a version of the play I would definitely go with the First Quarto.