The era of Facebook memes bearing quotes, to say nothing of the siloing and compartmentalization of views experienced in online life, has led me into a minor quandary, and I want to get my thoughts out on the matter, for your consideration and potential feedback.
I am a great fan of the idea of intellectual property, being, as I am, a writer of both fiction and nonfiction. The writer has the right to what he or she writes, just as any artist has for his her or works of art, and musicians have to their music. I think most people agree that it’s unethical—and certainly it is illegal—to use another person’s created work against his or her wishes, especially if one is making money by doing so. Even works in the public domain—including those that were written so long ago as to be considered ancient, such as the works of Homer, Plato, and Sophocles—shouldn’t be reproduced in whole without giving credit to the author. We should remind ourselves of the source of such works, and give credit to the memory of those who have written words that we found moving; certainly, we must give credit to the creators who are still living, especially if we are going to make money in the process. We should also, in the latter case, get permission, and usually we should pay them. Continue reading “The problem of attribution”