Can Plagiarism Ever Be Fair Use?
“In the pre-race show to The Kentucky Derby, NBC ran through the challenges faced by a number of the participants, including Michael Matz, the trainer for eventual-winner Barbaro. Matz had been in a plane crash and rescued three kids. Sounds like genuine heroism.
“NBC captured this by using language from the television show The West Wing. The borrowing of The West Wing dialogue took two forms. Tom Hammond, one of NBC’s announcers, stated that Matz ‘ran into the fire to save the lives of three children,’ and then paused and repeated, ‘ran into the fire.’ For those of us who are West Wing watchers that line immediately resonates. Fictional President Jed Bartlet delivered that line in an end-of-episode speech, a line written by heartthrob speech-writer Sam Seaborn.
“NBC has already conceded the plagiarism and has said that it will no longer accept work from the responsible freelance writer. Last week, I raised the question of the relationship between plagiarism and copyright’s fair use doctrine. What should we think of this situation?”
The Faculty Blog, University of Chicago Law School. More on Plagiarism and Fair Use. May 12, 2006.
Richard Sandomir. NBC Admits Plagiarism in Feature Before Derby. The New York Times. May 11, 2006.
The Patry Copyright Blog. Lawyers Copying Lawyers. May 10, 2006.
Davida H. Isaacs. The Highest Form of Flattery? Application of the Fair Use Defense against Copyright Claims for Unauthorized Appropriation of
Litigation Documents. (.pdf preprint) Missouri Law Review. Undated.
The Faculty Blog, University of Chicago Law School. All Copying is Shallow. May 2, 2006.
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