En annan (utländsk) E-postlista uppmärsammade ett fall där någon anklagar en
annan för att ha plagierat en dikt. (Läs om det i länken nedan.)
Jag skrev följande kommentar på listan, som tar upp en del intressantheter
rörande plagiat, copyright o dyl. Återger det här för SKRIVA-populasens
intellektuella förhöjelse... --AE
I went to the site (
) to find what it was all about. It's two poems.
The original: "Hell-spangled girl / spitting teeth into the sink, / I’d trace
the broken / landscape of my body / & find God / within myself."
Here is the other version accussed of plagiarising: "Ramshackle / girl spitting
teeth / in the sink. I trace the / foreign topography of / my body, find God /
in my skin."
As far as I can see it ISN'T plagiarising. With that I mean, to follow an
original so closely that it would be illegal. I'm not sure how US law works,
but I'm pretty sure version 2 would be perfectly legal under Swedish law.
What version 2 does is to follow the general ideas of version 1, without
copying most of the words. I mean "Hell-spangled" isn't the same word as
"Ramshackle". The line breaks and word order in expressing the concepts are
different. And so on.
Swedish law in this area relies on a concept I here translate as "creative
height" (kreativ höjd), which means for something to be copyrightable there
must be a creative process behind, to an extent that it reaches a certain
height. Trivial, short phrases aren't protected under copyright (they might be
registrable as trademarks, but that's another thing). General ideas are not
under copyright (they might be patentable, but that's also another thing).
There's clearly a thought process behind creating version 2. It follows
thoughts of version 1 but uses other phrasing (something you need to think to
If it's a good piece of work is another matter. Following the general ideas
of other pieces of work and give it a twist or some sort of new treatment is
very common (eg when you write a parody) and *may* become great pieces. I won't
deliver a verdict on if version 2 is "good" or not, but it isn't plagiarising.
I think it is important to defend certain rights to make "derivative works".
The progress of Mankind has always relied upon changing and improving or find
inspiration from something that has come before - also in arts! James Joyce was
for instance inspired by Homer when he wrote Ulysses. I'm sure Isaac Asimov
before writing his robot stories had read Eando Binder's Adam Link stories.
Disney has made derivative works a Billion Dollar industry, with many of their
characters taken from old, existing fairy tales. But they have all added
something, their own creative thoughts and work.
I come to think of Spider Robinson's Hugo-winning short story "Melancholy
Elephants". You can find it here:
(It is Spider himself publishing it on the net for us to read. So it's not
someone pirating it or so.)
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