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March 2, 2011

OE vb. (tr.) to turn away or redirect; to translate or transfer from one to another

by Andrew McCallum

Plagiarism is certainly criminal in a cultural context in which writing is a commodity to be bought and sold. It such a context, the writer certainly has moral and legal rights over the disposal of his or her writing and is perfectly entitled to feel aggrieved when someone ‘carries it away to another place’. And that is the context we have had since the inception of publishing and the subsequent control that publishers have exerted over the dissemination of writing. Prior to that, plagiarism was unknown among storytellers and bards, who merrily lifted portions of other people’s work to incorporate into their own oratura and literatura. And there are strong signs that the liberation of writing from the publishing industry through its free exchange on the internet has returned us to a similar context, in which the ideas of ownership and plagiarism become meaningless. Creative net-surfing reveals plagiarists who plagiarise the plagiarisms of others, to such an extent that the ‘true’ author is lost and the very idea of an author quickly becomes absurd.
—Ne Aiw: Ekki segja mér að ég hef sagt ekkert nýtt. Fyrirkomulag málið er nýtt (Tórshavn, 2021)

ljóð mín eru að mestu stolið frá þér;
stolið frá sólinni,
stolið úr vindi,
stolið úr jörðu,
stolið úr sjó.

Ég hef stolið úr ljóðum þínum, of,
frá götum þínum,
úr húsum þínum, umfram allt,
ég tek eitthvað frá líkamanum
og deila því.

Mig langar þig líka að stela frá mér;
ef mögulegt er, til að stela lífi mínu,
sem tilheyrir enginn veit til hverra.

Jafnvel orð verða ekki einkavædd;
þeir eru ekki einka eignum.
Allt er í sameign
hundruðum milljóna mannkynsins,
jafnvel þó að þú heldur að þú ert-við-sjálfan þig.

My poems are mostly stolen from you;
stolen from the sun,
stolen from the wind,
stolen from the earth,
stolen from the sea.

I have stolen from your poems, too,
from your streets,
from your houses; above all,
I take something from your body
and share it.

I would like you too to steal from me;
if possible, to steal my life,
which belongs no one knows to whom.

Even words cannot be privatised;
they are not private possessions.
Everything is the common property of
the hundreds of millions of humanity,
even though you think you are-unto-yourself.

Suðuroy saga
10th century Íslendingasögur
author unknown
tr. Anders Andersson

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Andrew McCallum is a Scottish poet and scallywag with a distant background in European philosophy.

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  1. alex cigale
    March 2, 2011 at 9:17 pm

    Boy do I have some adventures in plagiarism to share with you, with an editor that shall remain unnamed. I myself had edited a magazine based on found poetry during the 90s. One in particular, a product of practically a novella-length correspondence that I have been meaning to ask to reproduce now that a couple of years have passed. At the last moment, prior to publication online, a Google search revealed that I had unknowingly based a narrative poem on a piece of fiction that had been passed off as a true account in a book on workplace sabotage. I could go on forever about the history of Plagiary and appropriation and the intricacies of Fair Use law.

  1. April 14, 2011 at 2:05 pm
  2. May 9, 2011 at 3:31 pm
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