Against Monopoly

defending the right to innovate


Monopoly corrupts. Absolute monopoly corrupts absolutely.

Copyright Notice: We don't think much of copyright, so you can do what you want with the content on this blog. Of course we are hungry for publicity, so we would be pleased if you avoided plagiarism and gave us credit for what we have written. We encourage you not to impose copyright restrictions on your "derivative" works, but we won't try to stop you. For the legally or statist minded, you can consider yourself subject to a Creative Commons Attribution License.


Plagiarism Today

Who would have thought there was a website called "Plagiarism Today"? Or that they wouldn't have a clue about what plagiarism is? As you might have thought, Merriam-Webster defines plagiarize as
transitive senses : to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one's own : use (another's production) without crediting the source

intransitive senses : to commit literary theft : present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source

The point being of course that plagiarism is about attribution. But not according to "Plagiarism Today." They believe that blogs are the new plagiarists because they
are marked with large swaths of block quotes and heavy content reuse, but also proper attribution and at least some original content.
The post then goes on to talk about fair use, as if that had some connection to plagiarism. Is it too much to ask that a website specializing in plagiarism know the difference between plagiarism and copyright violation? (HT: Slashdot)

Addendum: Jonathan Bailey, the author of the post in question, replies to my post in the comment section. As he says, the plagiarism wording was taken from several articles on the subject. The thrust of his article was really about copyright and fair use, not about plagiarism - and he doesn't talk about plagiarism in his own comments, just uses it as a hook. So in fairness to him I'll direct the comments above at the articles he links to and not at his post.

Commenting on his post: I think aggregating other people's work with attribution is a good thing. In the case of this blog, if you read the copyright stuff on the right, you have the legal right to quote as much of this stuff as you want, and I think that the general view among bloggers is that being quoted a lot is good publicity. On the creativity side, organizing things is often as valuable as creating the components that are being organized. I would love to live in a world without copyright where we would all quote each other and build on each others work without involving lawyers.


My site has been down for much of the day today due to the Slashdot effect. It's online now but the story about what was said in that article, which hasn't been easily obtained for most of the time it's been talked about the title of the work has gained the most attention.

The title, however, was intended as a hat tip to the article that inspired mine. The quote is cited in the first sentence of the article itself. Throughout the article itself, I use the terms content theft, reuse and quoting. In fact, the word "Plagiarism" doesn't appear in the article after the first paragraph, where I cite and discuss the two articles that gave me the idea for the piece.

I realize, as almost anyone will, that this is not plagiarism. I now regret titling the piece as I did. It's taken away from a very important discussion and caused confusion. The thrust of the work is discussing how to strike a balance between reuse and content theft. It's not an easy subject that requires a heavy dialog.

Having read through various entries on your blog, I see that we share many viewpoints, including plagiarism as identity theft. I've channeled that line of thought before, though in different words.

Regardless, I hope you can look past the poor title and read the work for what it is, I regret the confusion.

I would love to live in a world without copyright where we would all quote each other and build on each others work without involving lawyers.
Mr. Levine, I should warn you that I wrote about the same concept, word-for-word, 3 years ago in a trade magazine regarding idea thieves. Please attribute the passage to me or face fines of up to $1 million, plus shipping and handling. Note: the Ginsu is not for sale.
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