"Self-Plagiarism" Versus Good Engineering Sense

I've always had a problem with the notion of "self-plagiarism": I suggest it is just an artifact of IP law, and not, like "other plagiarism," a matter of honesty.

If Joe gave me idea X, and I publish it as my own, I am lying, and failing to give Joe proper credit.

But if Genet gave Genet + 1 idea X, does it really make any sense to say that Genet + 1 is lying in saying that the idea was his?

Well, no, it obviously doesn't. The only purpose of the strictures on "self-plagiarism" is to enrich copyright holders at the expense of an author being able to re-use his own ideas.

And all of my training as a software engineer rebels against this concept: as an SE, you want to re-use code at every chance you can!

UPDATE: A quote on code re-use:
Code reuse

Only suckers start from scratch. In fact, today I took out some code I wrote over the summer, changed five lines, and started it running again. Woo hoo. It was sitting there in a code repository waiting for a chance to live again. Smart developers reuse code as often as they can. That was one of the main goals of the open source movement. It wasn’t freedom; it was laziness. If we reuse our code, we save a gazillion hours of work.


  1. One of my maxims, as a software designer and developer, is "theft is good".


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