September 12, 2001

What? You Didn't Mean 'Plagiarism'?
Steve L.

Okay, I looked at your article again. You say now, "I DID NOT [accuse] Jackson of plagiarism." You said before, "My question then is what Peter Jackson is doing an "artistic licence" and should be seen as such, or, is he actually plagerising Tolkien's work." Okay, you didn't actually accuse him of plagiarising; you just asked if he SHOULD be accused of plagiarising! But that is practically the same thing, and the question is equally ridiculous!

You asked, "Can anyone help me expand on what constitutes plagerism, and if so, is Jackson dangerously close to this?" You now defend yourself, saying, "I was merely asking the forum, what is plagiarism, how everyone felt about it, and their personal views on the subject." Well, I responded to you the first time by giving you a clear definition of plagiarism and telling you my personal view that Jackson obviously in no way comes close to it. So, why are you complaining and being defensive? If you understood the meaning of "plagiarism," maybe you wouldn't have even raised the question. Have you thought about it at all since then, or are you just defending yourself?

If you understand what plagiarism is, you can see it's simply NOT a matter that can be debated! Unless, that is, you are using a different definition of the word than the standard one and you weren't really expecting anyone to challenge that?

You say, "After all, this is a forum for discussion and I wanted to know more about this subject, since in Japan it is viewed differently than in North America." I think the interesting thing you can contribute here is an explanation of exactly HOW plagiarism is viewed differently in Japan? Are you referring to a MORE tolerant view there about stealing ideas from others and taking credit for them, or a LESS tolerant view? I think it is generally known that in Asia there is A LOT of disregard for intellectual property rights. Piracy of products and imitation of brand names or logos are commonplace there. So, I'm wondering why you would even raise a question about plagiarism from the perspective of a place where maybe it is practically a non-issue under ANY circumstances!?

Anyway, if you just consider standard definitions of the term in dictionaries, you can see that there is nothing to debate here with regard to LOTR. You cannot even use the word in connection with versions of The Three Musketeers,
your favorite story. The ONLY way someone can plagiarize is if they take credit for another person's ideas! If someone makes a movie with D'Artagnan as the hero and pretends that he invented the idea of a musketeer hero with the name "D'Artagnan," THEN it would be plagiarism. But someone would have to be pretty damn stupid to do that, since the whole world knows the character was created by Alexandre Dumas. Likewise, as far as plagiarism is concerned, it doesn't matter WHAT people do with characters and stories of Tolkien's as long as they acknowledge their stories are BASED ON Tolkien. However, I don't know to what extent people can do that without obtaining legal permission from whoever holds the rights to his works. After a certain period of time, though, any published work becomes public property; and I think that period may have already lapsed where LOTR is concerned. I'm not sure. If anyone has legal knowledge concerning such matters, I'd like to hear about that. Is the time limit 50 years bef

Anyway, don't take anything I wrote about the plagiarism issue personally. From your cultural perspective, perhaps it is understandable if you do not really understand what plagiarism is!