So many elements of this NYTimes story are bizarre to the point of comic that for a moment I wondered if it was a spoof. Seems that George Orwel* lifted several paragraphs without attributing their source for his book about the oil industry. The source: Wikipedia.** But other than a statement from the publisher, there’s not any big lawsuit or any other major response. That’s because Wikipedia isn’t like other sources:
Copying from Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia produced by tens of thousands of contributors, does not raise the same legal complications as copying from a copyrighted book. According to Mike Godwin, the lead lawyer at the Wikimedia Foundation, under Wikipedia’s license anyone can reprint material found there as long as Wikipedia is given credit and the license itself is reprinted, assuring that the material continues to roam free.
So go ahead and lift from Wikipedia for your next book. I am. My newest WIP is entitled WIKINOVEL, and it’s going to be very informative.
*This is the first bizarre element. The man’s name is George Orwel. GEORGE ORWEL? Is that real? If you’re going to be named George Orwel just go whole hog and tack on that second “L.”
** Second bizarre element.***