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News Link • Intellectual Property

Imitation: Sincerest Form of Flattery or Theft?

• Free Press Publications
Can you own an idea? This may seem to be a simple question, however the question requires a complex answer. And unlike most issues, not all people who fall into the libertarian quadrant of the Nolan Chart agree on the answer. While many people believe “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” some libertarians believe that an idea belongs to the creator even after the idea is shared and that imitation is theft. Recently, a three-year old dispute between Davi Barker and L. Neil Smith was reignited when Smith sent an email to one of Barker's employers.Smith's original complaint was that the Shire Society Declaration was “plagiarized directly from my 'Covenant of Unanimous Consent', absolutely without my knowledge or permission, and without even giving me proper credit as the author.” Smith further alleged, “you have altered and damaged my property, again without my knowledge or permission.”

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