Credit Where Credit's Due

Intellectual Property and Copyright and Trademark

Article Snapshot


Lawrence Lessig


Harper's magazine, April 2007, page 4


This letter to the editor addresses the boundary between plagiarism and creativity.

Policy Relevance

Creativity requires borrowing from the work of others, but one should give them credit.

Main Points

  • An earlier essay in Harper’s Magazine does a good job of describing the importance of “remixing” to creativity.

  • We cannot create without drawing on the work of others.

  • The essay, however, used a sentence from Lessig's own work without giving him credit. This is very close to plagiarism.

  • If you use another’s words verbatim, you should not have to get permission first, but you should give him or her credit. 

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