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Date Posted: Saturday, June 25, 01:32:10am
Author: sk
Subject: Re: If you're a little bit masochistic...or even a lot...
In reply to: Nestra 's message, "If you're a little bit masochistic...or even a lot..." on Thursday, June 16, 08:51:26am

I'm about 6 months behind reading the New Yorker, so I just got to the November 22 issue with a very interesting piece by Malcolm Gladwell on plagarism. Apparently someone wrote a play that borrowed substantially (and inadvertently) from an article he wrote about a doctor who studies serial killers. The playwright came across Gladwell's article reprinted in a news magazine, and used it in her research. Without really knowing that she did this, she wound up using not just the information, but several of the phrases that Gladwell had used in his article. A friend who knew Gladwell's work and had seen the play told him about it, and he says that initially he was very disconcerted, feeling that he had somehow been the victim of a theft. But (and this was the twistiest and most interesting part) after he saw the play, he said his feelings changed. He thought that she had indeed "quoted his work without attribution" but that she had also added to the characters and the situation -- that because she had used the source material in a creative endeavor, adding to the original stuff, he was somehow less damaged than if she'd just taken his work, copied it word for word, and passed it off as her own.

I think there are perhaps some connections that could be made between this situation and fanfiction -- we do use the work of other people (characters and environments they've created), but we add to the material as well, whether it's fleshing out an existing situation, or extending the lives and experiences of the characters.

As usual with human endeavors, it's much more complicated than it originally might seem.

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