I’m currently holed up at my folks’ winter place trying to get my decades of life in order. I can, fortunately, pick up the ol’ hometown 620 WDAE in Tampa in order to listen to the Jim Rome Show.
I’ve written elsewhere about 620’s PM Drive host Steve Duemig. I’m not fond of the dude, to say the least. On Friday afternoons, he features a guest named Chris Landry. Landry’s a pro football expert and is very popular with Duemig’s listeners.
As Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio discovered this week, he’s also an alleged plagiarist. And not even a very good one. For months, he’s been allegedly lifting content word-for-word from the National Football Post. Cleverly, he’s changed a word here and there to try and pass it off as his own — which only makes him look more guilty.
Why am I posting about it? Because I’m incensed by the reaction from Duemig’s listeners. Now, I have a lot of things to love about Tampa Bay, but the intellectual capability of its’ average resident is not one of them. Every single caller this afternoon is asking why this is such a big deal; “why should we care?” and “I don’t see the problem here” is a common thread.
Last night, I was tripped up by a 1941 copy of The Works of Gilbert and Sullivan. The book was a collaboration between a music professor and a master arranger and both provides an accurate choral and orchestral representation of the music in the duo’s operatta collaborations and an academic description of the origination and execution of each work. It was striking to realize that 120 years ago, intellectual property law in the United States was still in its infancy. The rabid popularity of early works like H.M.S. Pinafore and The Pirates of Penzance led to copycat productions across the United States, mere weeks after the shows opened in London. Gilbert and Sullivan were unable to stop these productions, inaccurate as they may have been, because there were no laws in place to protect their work.
How did they end up winning the IP war? They simply prepared the work on both continents simultaneously (difficult given Sullivan’s tendency toward procrastination and the fact air travel, let alone intercontinental air travel, had yet to be invented) and opened on the same night.
Fortunately (with some reservations), the courts and Congress caught up with the times. Yet now we live in an age where Command-C and Command-V (that’s Control to you PC/Linux users) make plagiarism so easy anyone can do it. The ease and pervasiveness of filesharing make intellectual property rights even less meaningful.
Is the overall American trend toward defending plagiarism? Do we no longer feel a person’s work belongs to them, in some fashion? Or are we just not informed about what constitutes intellectual property theft?
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