[LINK] Plagiarize and be pilloried
Mon, 19 Nov 2001 14:31:35 +1000 (EST)
On 16 Nov, To: Link discussion group wrote:
> On 16 Nov, Chirgwin, Richard wrote:
>> My shock was that it took months of to-ing and fro-ing to even wring an
>> admission from the company concerned that there is something wrong with
>> plagarism. As far as both the individual consultants and their managers were
>> concerned, copy-paste research for tender documents was acceptable business
> This starts to get interesting. I am currently writing a series of
> documents about open source, security and IT strategy that I am/will be
> using with clients to help them start thinking about issues in these
> I was debating about putting these on my web site as I had some concerns
> about them being used by others without appropriate attribution.
> If using without attribution is a common practice, there is a strong
> motive for me not to make these documents available.
I have been asked by quite a few people if I will be releasing these
docs under the GPL.
The answer to that is no, because documents are not like software.
If I write software and licence it under the GPL, I am quite happy to
have people improve on the software and release changed versions of it.
Software does something and someone else improving the software benefits
all of us.
The same is not the case for a document. Documents generally express and
explore ideas and it is quite possible (as witness this list) to have a
conversation about ideas without having to modify the original document
to do so. Discussion in the academic world (and elsewhere, such as on
this list) also shows the need to clearly understand who is saying what.
The problem I originally alluded to was not with people using my
documents with appropriate attribution, but with their unattributed use.
Part of my professional reputation (as with many on Link) depends on how
others see my knowledge, skills and the thought that goes into applying
these for my clients. I need the ideas and arguments that I express to
clearly state where I am coming from (and going to) in my professional
As with any professional, ideas are a key part of my stock in trade. I
cannot allow a situation to arise where my ideas and those of others can
be confused - possibly to my detriment.
To avoid this problem, I will retain copyright for my documents, but
allow others to quote, print and redistribute them, provided they
I am now trying ot find a suitable statement that I can place on my web
site (and as part of my documents) that says this in clear terms that I
can, if needed, enforce.
As a side note, in he open source world, there are 'open source'
documents. The Linux Documentation Project contains many documents that
are modifiable - and need to be as they describe the ever evolving Linux
operating system and how to use it. Such documents usually start with a
single author/maintainer, but contributions from others are generally
welcomed. The author/maintainer can also change as people move in and
out of the LDP (as I have done).
Robert Hart firstname.lastname@example.org
Strategic IT & open source consulting +61 (0)438 385 533
Brisbane, Australia http://www.interweft.com.au