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Against Monopoly

defending the right to innovate

Plagiarism

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.


All Is Not Crazy

On the trademark front the legal system seems to have a degree of rationality. According to the AP an English Judge ruled against a claim by the Beatles and in favor of Apple computer: Apple computer can continue to use the apple logo in connection with iTunes.

Plagiarism, Trademark and Identity Theft

I've often had the experience after presenting a paper arguing that copyright doesn't work, that someone asks "So you don't mind if I take your name off this paper, and put my name on it and redistribute it, right?" Although intended as a joke, it isn't really funny, because it demonstrates a lack of understanding of what the paper is about. Suppose I download a piece of music that I didn't previously have. Ignoring the future consequences regarding music production - it is certain that from a social point of view what I did made society better off. It made me better off - I have access to music I didn't have before - and nobody is worse off. They copyright holder might not be able to sell me music in the future - but that is just a transfer payment from me to him - it has no social consequence.

Contrast this to identity theft. I make a copy of your identity - that is, I masquerade as you. This equally certainly makes society worse off. The essence of identity is that it must be unique. If multiple people hold the same identity, then the identity loses its social value. This is why trademark is different than copyright. Copyright prevents the socially desirable use of creations; trademark prevents the socially undesirable theft of identities - it preserves the right to know who you are doing business with.

How does plagiarism fit into this? Plagiarism is the theft of identity. When you take my name off the paper and claim you wrote it, this is identity theft - you are claiming to be me. It serves no socially useful purpose, and indeed has bad social consequences. So while I am against copyright, I am for trademark, against identity theft, and against plagiarism.


   

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