The Little Book of Plagiarism
By Richard A. Posner
(Pantheon Books, Hardcover, 9780375424755, 116pp.)
Publication Date: January 16, 2007
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A concise, lively, and bracing exploration of an issue bedeviling our cultural landscape–plagiarism in literature, academia, music, art, and film–by one of our most influential and controversial legal scholars. Best-selling novelists J. K. Rowling and Dan Brown, popular historians Doris Kearns Goodwin and Stephen Ambrose, Harvard law professor Charles Ogletree, first novelist Kaavya Viswanathan: all have rightly or wrongly been accused of plagiarism–theft of intellectual property–provoking widespread media punditry. But what exactly is plagiarism? How has the meaning of this notoriously ambiguous term changed over time as a consequence of historical and cultural transformations? Is the practice on the rise, or just more easily detectable by technological advances? How does the current market for expressive goods inform our own understanding of plagiarism? Is there really such a thing as “cryptomnesia,” the unconscious, unintentional appropriation of another’s work? What are the mysterious motives and curious excuses of plagiarists? What forms of punishment and absolution does this “sin” elicit? What is the good in certain types of plagiarism?
Provocative, insightful, and extraordinary for its clarity and forthrightness, The Little Book of Plagiarism is an analytical tour de force in small, the work of “one of the top twenty legal thinkers in America” (Legal Affairs), a distinguished jurist renowned for his adventuresome intellect and daring iconoclasm.