1. A2theDre
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    A2theDre Active Member

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    Plagiarism: when is it, and when is it not?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by A2theDre, May 18, 2009.

    This refers more to ideas rather than whole works but I'm still unsure about it. Point in question is that I'm planning out a science fiction novel and need to have a way for different civilizations to understand each other.

    I remember on the tv show Farscape an ingenious way around the problem. They had something called "translator microbes" that were injected into the recipient and the microbes attached themselves to the recipient's spinal cord and allowed him/her to understand other dialects.

    I find this idea quite clever, not to mention quite plausible when talking about advanced civilizations. Would using this idea be considered plagiarism? Obviously I wouldn't call them translator microbes but rather use my own name.

    Any help you can provide would be appreciated. Thanks...
     
  2. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    General ideas have no copyright on them. You're probably better off calling it something like a universal translator, and making it an electronic device because that's been used in more than one show/book. Besides, what else are you going to call it?
     
  3. A2theDre
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    A2theDre Active Member

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    Well I haven't quite progressed that far. I thought I'd figure out if I could do it before investing effort in how it was going to work. I don't really want electronic devices for this though. I'm more thinking along the lines of a genetically engineered bacteria that would do the same job.
     
  4. RomanticRose
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    RomanticRose Active Member

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    The general idea, whether electronic or biologic, is out there in numerous forms. Rei is correct though, general ideas aren't copyrighted -- just particular arrangements of words. Remember Ford Prefect telling Arthur Dent, "Put this fish in your ear." Just give it an unusual twist that makes it your own.
     
  5. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    You could also have the new languages downloaded into their brain chips, something like how Neo download kungfu in the Matrix.
     
  6. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Ideas are not subject to copyright. Ideas can be patented, but only if they meet several conditions, and only after a lengthy and often expensive legal process.

    Refer to http://www.copyright.gov/ for anything you need to know about copyright law in the US. The law in most other countries is essentially the same, by international agreement, but check your own country's site for any specific details that may differ.
     

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