A License to Plagiarize

Brian L. Frye

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Since time immemorial, authors have wanted to own various kinds of

exclusive rights in the works they create. Curiously, the rights authors want

to own at any particular point in time tend to reflect the nature of the market

for the works they create. The first exclusive right authors wanted was attribution.

In classical Greece, philosophers accused each other of copying

ideas without attribution. The Roman poet Martial coined the term plagiarius

to criticize other poets for passing off his poems as their own. Even

medieval Irish poets observed plagiarism norms that prohibited copying

without attribution. In all of these cases, authors cared about attribution

because it was essential to their livelihood.

Many people have argued that authors ought to be able to abandon their

copyrights and place their works in the public domain. I agree. Unfortunately,

it can be difficult and complicated. Under the Copyright Act, everything

copyrightable is automatically copyrighted, and there is no explicit

mechanism for abandoning copyright. Accordingly, Creative Commons

created the CCO tool, which is intended to help authors place their work in

the public domain, to the extent legally possible. I think authors also ought

to be able to abandon their attribution right and permit plagiarism of their

works. Property is property, whether or not it has economic value. Accordingly,

I provide a couple of CC+ tools intended to help authors abandon

their attribution right.

Original languageUndefined/Unknown
JournalLaw Faculty Scholarly Articles
StatePublished - Jan 1 2021
Externally publishedYes


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