November 17th, 2009

We’re All Copy Cats

The internet makes plagiarism and copyright infringement astonishingly easy to accomplish and terrifically difficult to keep track of.

I sometimes stumble upon something as brazen as my words published with someone else’s name attached. I usually address that kind of thing.

But then there’s the subtler stuff —

  • a blog post or article of mine copied in its entirety without a link or permission
  • a chapter from one of my books copied in its entirety and without permission
  • an original phrase of mine used by someone else without credit
  • a theme for a series of posts or gathering of links used elsewhere without mention of the original

And when I happen upon things like this, I sometimes grow righteous and angry.

How dare they? Those are my words, I think, and my ideas!

But that’s when I hear a more reasonable voice from somewhere deep inside.

No they’re not, it says.

Were they good words? Was it a good idea? Were they good enough for someone else to want to share them? And will greater good come from that sharing?

Then rejoice and be glad. None of us does anything good or worthwhile on our own.

And we’re all copycats in the end.

(HT: Elizabeth‘s sidebar long ago)

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