Plagiarism, Copyright, and Ownership of Ideas

To the Editor:

I am delighted that Keith D. Miller raised some long overdue questions about plagiarism ("Redefining Plagiarism: Martin Luther King's Use of an Oral Tradition," Point of View, January 20). My only concern is that he did not go far enough.

Physical treasures such as food, land, and machines can be shared only so far, so there is at least a case for protecting one's own if there is perceived scarcity. But good or inspiring ideas can be shared by all, and in fact