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    December 27, 2005


    steven gillis

    Hey Dan - Great job in putting these comments together. I must admit, I was completely shocked to read that so many writers dont actually mind and, in fact, condone stealing of another writer's work. I guess I dont get it. I mean, how is it writing if one lifts entire passages from another author's work and claims such as their own? IS that not fraud? As noted, being inspired by another writers ideas and creating a completely unique story based on such is fine and even encouraged, but to steal another writers work word for word? Come on! What's next? Shall I cut the face out of the Mona Lisa, slap it to a poster board and tell the world I painted it? Geez! Happy Holidays - Steve


    excellent responses. good reading. we're all over the place.



    Some seem to wander into the superstitious region of Tabu in a neo-puritan attempt to cleanse any author's work of any influence, overt or not.
    At the same time, I tend to agree with Sue O'Neill that "respect" and "love" sounds much like the pedophile's defense.
    Margaret Atwood in "Negotiating with the Dead" in a disclaimer "any such notions ( of literary theory) that have wandered into this book have got there by the usual writerly methods, which resemble the ways of the jackdaw: we steal the shiny bits, and build them into the structures of our own disorderly nests."
    Seems to me that the issue is pretty clear. If one copies much more than a sentence from another protected writer without attribution, one has committed plagerism, caught or uncaught.
    With due respect for the arts of mitigation, all else is rationalization.
    And yes, the sky is blue and the devil is in the details.


    Dan, excellent discussion on an important literary topic. Among my own stories are two potential offenders: one based on the Iroquois Theatre fire which has a quote from Anthony Hatch's "Tinder Box" as an epigraph (I obtained permission from the publisher); and one based on "Casey at the Bat" which includes Thayer's original poem in its entirety. I think I'm okay with the latter, since I acknowledged Thayer in an endnote; to the best of my knowledge, the original is also in the public domain.

    judy b.

    Well, as long as people are offering personal examples...

    Here's one I've published, trusting my readers to know the original, but if they don't, I don't think anyone's estate suffers. I've only read the original twice, years ago, and I can't imagine that I managed to replicate more than the spirit of it. You tell me. At anyrate, one college dean who read it was impressed and not incensed.

    Henry Swanson

    [..] disclaimer: The following (sampled) quotes belong to nobody

    "I don't see like I'm breaking any rules.. because I don't see any rules to break." - Attributed to Bob Dylan

    "Exterminate all rational thought." - William Burroughs

    "La propriété, c'est le vol!" - Pierre-Joseph Proudhon

    "You are not a beautiful and unique snowflake" - Jill's Nipples

    "Sorry, I can't give you any reliable references for the impossible insubordination of words; they're indirectly unattributable to the non-stop evolutionary mutation of an ongoing critique of your dying world." - with love always, Henry Swanson

    ps. This comment, and eveything above and below it automatically released into the 'libre public domain.' Do what you have to but do it fast
    = = =

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