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View Diary: I Wrote "To Kill A Mockingbird" - Plagiarism and Other Follies (55 comments)

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  •  I'm afraid I was raised (2+ / 0-)
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    twigg, serendipityisabitch

    by Robert Heinlein, whose character Grandma Hazel Stone made it quite clear that a working author steals any idea that isn't nailed down with railroad ties.

    There has to be a limit to claims of intellectual property.  Artists have imitated each other and built upon the results since time immemorial, and truly novel plots are as rare as dragon's eggs.  Similarly characters have to fit within a certain range of human variation in order to be sympathetic, attractive, or interesting.  Settings can only be so unique, and even similarities in overall atmosphere are so ubiquitous that we call them "genres" and readers specifically seek them out: as consumers, we WANT a "new" story that is somewhat like another that we have enjoyed; we want music that resembles what is familiar and carries positive memories and lasts long enough for a dance and not so long as to leave the dancers exhausted and panting.  

    Claims of plagiarism have to rest on substantive lifting of significant amounts of material, not a pair of words or three notes in a sequence (excepting the opening of Beethoven's Fifth, which is public domain).  Otherwise the requirement to create absolute novelty exceeds the rather fixed demands of popular forms and leads to "experiments" that are rarely satisfying to any except an elite avant garde.

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