The Lounge is rated Safe For Work. If you're about to post something inappropriate for a shared office environment, then don't post it. No ads, no abuse, and no programming questions. Trolling, (political, climate, religious or whatever) will result in your account being removed.
1) If some work by A is copied/plagiarized by B, and C copies/plagiarizes what B presents (without any source indicated), does then B have a moral/legal right to complain about plagiarism?
2) How similar/identical must the copy be in order to be plagiarism?
"First we will play a few guitar chords in an arpeggio style, which are owned by Randy California, and then we switch over to a tune by Led Zeppelin".
If you say nothing, but play the arpeggios only, who are you then plagiarizing? If you play the same chord sequence non-arpeggio, are you then plagiarizing? ... And so on.
You run into quite similar issues with litterature: At what point does an author gain the right to the plot of a novel? Boy-meets-girl-and-falls-in-love, Boy-and-girl-argue-and-break-up, Boy-and-girl-understand-that-they-need-another-and-come-together-again ... You can't copyright that plot. You can copyright a book using that plot, but how deep in details does the copyright extend?
Software raises the same problems. If I find some code on a FOSS site, adapt it from C to C#, translate comments and variable names from French to English and reformat the code ... At what stage am I no longer bound by whatever style of FOSS license the code was published under? (Saying that "the license tells you what you can do" is evading the problem: It just treats the plain issues, not the borderline cases.)
In folk music circles, you should be honored if you hear some other musician playing your dance tune. It has been that way for many generations. Note that when you play "A springar in the tradition of Ola Mossafinn", you shouldn't play it exactly as Ola did (which you couldn't know anyway, as he died in 1912): You play it your way, your style, maybe with a quite different sound, but based on the material form the Mossafinn springar.
Classical music has been similar: In the renaissance and baroque period, to be recognized, a young composer had to present a collection of works each imitating a different old master. One of my CDs, Heinrich Schutz: Il primo libro de madrigali, is a recording of his first book of madrigals showing that he was good at plagiarizing other composers.
"Borrowing" (or "quoting") is still common, not the least in jazz music. And if you want an extreme "classical" example: Peter Schickele: Eine Kleine Nichtmusik[^]. If you know nothing about classical music, maybe you won't care for this one; the more classical themes you are familiar with, the better it gets! (If you like it, also look for The Unbegun Symphony[^], but Nichtmusik has more well known quotes.)
However, the most extreme plagiarism, where you are openly invited to do it, is the open source code "movement". Note that open source did not arrive with *nix: In the 1970s and 80s, new OS versions for the Univac mainframe was delivered in source code, to be assembled by the customer. The minis came with a hardcopy listing of the entire OS (they didn't give it out in machine readable format, but I know at least one guy who typed it in from the hardcopy). The ACM collection of algorithms (all in Fortran IV code), several thousand of them, filled about six feet of packed ring binders in the library of the Comp.Sci department. My "basement computer museum" has a full listing of VAX/VMS on microfiche cards (don't ask me about its version number!).
You may argue that FOSS is different because the creator has himself given you the right to copy/plagiarize the code. But in the old days, musicians and other artists more or less said the same thing: If you want to play it your way, do! What is different today, is that "intellectual rights" have been blown up tremendously, especially in music where as little as four measures that resembles another piece, while all the rest does not, is enough to be accused of plagiarism. (Not too many years ago, it was eight measures.) You may be plagiarizing by accident, never having heard the piece that you are blamed for plagiarizing.
In programming, you have the same thing: Quite obvious tricks and methods that anybody could have made up on their own - and, it turns out, a lot of developers have created on their own - turns out to be patented by someone. This is a much bigger problem in the USA, where you can patent anything, and then people may challenge the patent, which is a costly affair. Most European countries will not grant a patent unless it represents something significantly new, it must have a clearly identifiable "invention height". So, a lot of US patents would not be granted in Europe.
Note that IP protection through patents require you to reveal exactly what you are doing, what makes your solution so special. Anyone can plagiarize it to learn from it - that is the very idea. But they cannot make money on it, as long as the patent is upheld. But the day it runs out (or isn't renewed), any competitor may release to the market the result of x years implementation work on products based on your patent.
(I never had this confirmed, it is just a suspicion of mine: For magnetic disks, we read articles about vertical magnetization, how it could significantly increase data density, around 1978-79. But we saw no revolution for many years: Disks were gradually getting bigger, but only slowly. Then, twenty years later (the maximum patent time), disk capacities suddenly exploded. It happened within a few months, from several manufacturers. I am sure that they all had been studying the patent, and developed the technology in their labs, building the production lines and stocking up piles of new high capacity, vertical magnetization disks ready to send to market the same day as the patent expired. Correct me if you know this to be completely wrong!)
I believe that a full ban on plagiarism would be an obstacle to development and creativity. We need to be inspired by the work of others, learn from the work of others. Taking that inspiration and learning into our own work is bound to include a few measures of music or a few code lines. You cannot learn a lot, and then discard it completly. It is not possible, and it is a waste of valuable learning.
Sure, some plagiarism is regular stealing, it is not quoting. But today, we have set the borderline between stealing and quoting at a level that I feel uncomfortable with - more so in music than in software, but still: If I happen to program similar to another guy, and his way has no significan "invention height", then I think I should be entitled to do so.
Although I do see your point, the plagiarism he is saying is not exactly what you are defending.
What we see here is:
Verbatim copy of something and telling it is own work, without quoting, references or similars...
If something has a solution... Why do we have to worry about?. If it has no solution... For what reason do we have to worry about?
Help me to understand what I'm saying, and I'll explain it better to you
Rating helpful answers is nice, but saying thanks can be even nicer.
Isopropyl alcohol and a soft, lint-free wipe. Having them fitted right so they don't slide down your nose (without being so tight you have to take them off before they sever your ears) helps.
It also helps if you have just one pair - I have varifocals these days, so I don't need to touch them so much when swapping from distance, to computer, to reading.
"I have no idea what I did, but I'm taking full credit for it." - ThisOldTony
AntiTwitter: @DalekDave is now a follower!