I like to read The Consumerist blog from time to time, although some of the language used in the comments is a bit of a turnoff. According to a recent article “National Pork Board Attempting To Halt Sales Of Canned Unicorn Meat“, the ThinkGeek site recently posted a parody that used “the new white meat” as part of an “ad”, which the National Pork Board says is a trademark infringement upon their slogan “the other white meat”.
Maybe we just have too many lawyers. Maybe we just all need to calm down. It seems that people sue other people for just about anything these days. Once upon a time, you just went out back and whoever walked out was the winner. Maybe that isn’t the best method around, but I’m beginning to think it is faster, cheaper and better than everyone suing others over the drop of a hat.
I was thinking about intellectual property (IP) lately. I have learned that someone is suing UCG over an alleged copyright violation, but I don’t know much more than that. For years, people have spoken of the “plagiarism” of HWA, and one of my searches popped up yet another who makes this claim. It seems that in this lawsuit-happy world, it is easy to make a claim, whether or not it is legitimate or whether or not it is yanked out of context.
The fact is that very often plagiarism isn’t always a cut and dried issue. There is a lot of room for an area of gray. It is also a fact that it hasn’t always been treated as serious of an issue as it is today. Many serious authors survived allegations of plagiarism by simply shrugging them off. Comics quite often “borrowed” jokes from one another, particularly during the Vaudeville days.
What is particularly disturbing is that “ideas” can fall under plagiarism. I would suggest that this is a fairly new phenomenon, as this was certainly never taught in my grade, jr high or high school. In fact, to assume that you can even come up with an idea that no one else ever has is to take on a form of arrogance that is beyond me to understand.
In some cases, “copyright” has been used as an excuse by the music industry to go after individuals. The fining of a Minnesota woman of $220,000 for only 24 songs is just one example of the more extreme measures that the music industry has pursued.
Frankly, in spite of all the hype, there is no evidence that copying music is any more widespread today than it has been in previous times. It’s just easier to get caught at it.
As far as HWA goes, though, the allegations don’t stop there. There is the ludicrous idea that he somehow “stole” ideas from SDAs, JWs and other groups. How do you steal the truth? He mentions the law of gravity in some of his writings. Did he steal the idea of the law of gravity? Did he steal the idea of entropy?
Frankly any plagiarism can easily be attributable to bad note-taking. One of the things we were warned about in school was that in doing research we should make sure the notes are in our own words or else that we use quotes in our notes to mark the difference. Otherwise, it is fairly easy to accidently present the words as our own in the final paper.
What most critics of his fail to mention, however, is that he just as easily rejected bad ideas. There are entire sections of Judah’s Scepter, for example, that he neither copied nor referenced at all. The reasons for not including them would be obvious to anyone who pays attention (the “cross” of the blessing is one of the most prominent).
What they really ignore, though, is that if God did not keep His promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, then either He is not really God or He is not really trustworthy. To say He kept all of the promises during the days of David and Solomon is to essentially call God a liar. Over and over, God promised He would keep His promises “in the last days” and “in the latter days” (Ge 49:1; Nu 24:14, 17; Dt 31:29-32:45). Even the most generous of interpretations puts the last days after the time of Jesus’ resurrection. It is a logical fallacy to reject a conclusion simply because of who presented it. Either it has merit, or it does not.
Another fallacy is that it is about us. It isn’t about us. It’s about God keeping His promises. It’s about God showing Himself trustworthy. If He cannot do a simple thing like this, then why entrust Him with our eternal salvation?