Plagiarism. Copyright protection does not apply to ideas, but only to the way they are expressed. However, this can also get tricky.

Lawyers plagiarize every day. They teach us in law school that the law is based upon precedent. Precedent is what another lawyer convinced a judge the law means to a fact. (The law something written previously by the legislature as an expression of the law.) I guess that is why we use “legal citations” so we don’t pass it off as our own work. But how many times do you “paraphrase” or quote the Rutter Group, or Witkin without providing citation to the treatise, but only cite the “official” legal authority?

We spend thousands of dollars on books which provide us with “forms” or samples to copy. Even in law school an outline is copying a hornbook for their definitions of the law. All we do is to learn to copy other’s expression of words describing what the law is. So what is the point of “copyright protection”? Yeah, I think it’s time to call David Nimmer.

I really like this posting from the Georgetown University web site:

This is a cool page a lady put together with examples you can link to on the web.

There are even computer programs out there (from $250 on up) to detect plagiarism. On day in a copyright case I may try one out.

I would like to hear from others on this subject.