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It’s a Beautiful Plagiarism


If this isn’t wonderful, “Ecstasy of Influence,” by Jonathan Lethem, I’ll bite my blog. (Linked to via Library Link of the Day, 2/14/07). An excerpt is below, but read the whole thing. You’ll smile at the logic, the flaws, and the humor, but will also be provoked beyond measure. And it is only by chance that I posted a couple of days ago to Posner’s book on plagiarism. Enjoy:

“The idea that culture can be property—intellectual property—is used to justify everything from attempts to force the Girl Scouts to pay royalties for singing songs around campfires to the infringement suit brought by the estate of Margaret Mitchell against the publishers of Alice Randall’s The Wind Done Gone. Corporations like Celera Genomics have filed for patents for human genes, while the Recording Industry Association of America has sued music downloaders for copyright infringement, reaching out-of-court settlements for thousands of dollars with defendants as young as twelve. ASCAP bleeds fees from shop owners who play background music in their stores; students and scholars are shamed from placing texts facedown on photocopy machines. At the same time, copyright is revered by most established writers and artists as a birthright and bulwark, the source of nurture for their infinitely fragile practices in a rapacious world. Plagiarism and piracy, after all, are the monsters we working artists are taught to dread, as they roam the woods surrounding our tiny preserves of regard and remuneration.” [from Harper’s Magazine, Lethem, “Ecstasy of Influence”]

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