Article Title

A Taxonomy of Borrowing


copyright law, plagiarism, digital work, publications


While copyright infringement is a legal wrong, plagiarism is a breach of academic and market practices. However, few authors of literary works truly understand the difference between the two. Copyright law seeks to protect economic interests in an underlying work, while plagiarism—and in countries where moral rights are robust, associated legal rights—protect the integrity of the work and the author’s claim to the work. The digital age has refocused attention on the kinds of claims an author or copyright holder might make with respect to unauthorized uses of a literary work. The ease with which a digital work may be cut and pasted, or generally repurposed, creates a need to reconsider the types of legal and market wrongs that arise with respect to digitally distributed literary works. Drawing on observations from the digital publishing industry, this Article proposes a taxonomy of borrowing from existing works that serves to clarify the kinds of borrowing that should be legally and economically tolerated as contrasted with conduct that may be regarded as wrongful. It is the hope that this taxonomy assists in the development of both digital copyright law and market approaches to acceptable versus unacceptable borrowing in the digital publishing sphere.