Re: Copyright: Form, Content, and Prepublication Incarnations

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Thu, 8 Nov 2001 21:24:03 +0000

On Thu, 8 Nov 2001, Joseph Pietro Riolo wrote:

> On Thu, 8 Nov 2001, Stevan Harnad <> wrote:
> >
> > There are two almost entirely independent dimensions of copyright
> > protection:
> >
> > CT: Protection from theft-of-text (piracy, illicit acquisition or sale of
> > the copyright owner's text)
> >
> > and
> >
> > CA: Protection from theft-of-authorship (plagiarism, the claim to
> > having written the author's text).
> In the U.S., copyright does not protect authors from plagiarism. I can
> read an article written by another person, get all the ideas and facts
> from the article, and write a new article using my own words to express
> the same or similar ideas and facts without giving any credit to the
> person.

But you can't publish his words and claim to be their author.

(Let us not get into the technical question of how many words, or how
different they have to be to be no longer the author's words. Since we
are concerned only with refereed research papers, if you publish my
paper as your own, you are in violation of CA. Let's leave the questions
of originality, priority, attribution, citation and credit to the
referees, editors, patent offices, funding agencies and prize
committees. Those are not copyright issues.)

> That is because ideas and facts are in the public domain and
> no one can own them exclusively. Section 106A in the U.S. Copyright Law
> allows only the authors of the works of the visual art such as artists
> to claim the authorship only for their works. But, they cannot claim
> authorship over the uncopyrightable items in their works and copyrightable
> items that are independently created by other people in their works.

Try publishing X's copyrighted poem as your own...

> That is where we differ.

I think we differ about the kind of literature we have in mind.
(And I think there are no substantive UK/US differences involved
here [Charles O.?].)

Stevan Harnad
Received on Thu Nov 08 2001 - 21:24:11 GMT

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