Hypo: Plagiarism

Professor David Post


H2O has permission to use this resource.

An old friend of yours, Eric, sends you an email.

Here is the complete text of Eric’s email:

“Hey there! How’s my favorite law student doin’ these days? I hope all is well. . . . I’m writing you because I’ve run into a little problem, and I thought, given your legal knowledge, you could help me out. Remember Jasmine, from high school? Well, here’s an email I got from her yesterday: 

‘From: Jasmine

To: Eric

Hi, Eric. I’ve seen this quote a few times on the Internet the last couple of weeks. “Freedom is best spoken of by people who are not free; they know it in its absence in a way we who have it cannot really know it. We are wise to listen to them.” I thought it looked familiar, and then I realized that it’s from your book, right? People are stealing it like crazy! You might want to look into this. xoxo Jasmine’

Jasmine is right – those exact sentences appear on page 134 of my book. I started looking around on the Internet, and I found dozens and dozens of blogs that are using the same quote. And then this weekend, it appeared in several “op-Ed” articles in some newspapers (the New York Times and the Philadelphia Daily News, along with a couple of others). Is there anything I can do?

Your old friend,


End of text of Eric’s email

What do you tell him? In particular, does Eric have a copyright infringement claim (or claims) here?