The art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe.
Gustave Flaubert

Tuesday 11 January 2011


An alternative to that appalling oxymoron, "intellectual property theft". Derived (according to impeccable sources such as Wiktionary) from Humphrey Bogart's tendency to keep a cigarette hanging from his lips rather than taking drags and removing it in between, apparently to avoid continuity problems. In the sixties it came to mean failing to pass on a joint as promptly as good manners dictated (see, or listen to, Don't Bogart That Joint, by Lawrence Wagner (lyrics) and Elliot Ingber (music), the original version of which appeared on the soundtrack of "Easy Rider" performed by Fraternity Of Man, subsequently covered by Little Feat) and from that it has developed the meaning of stealing - perhaps appropriating is a better word, though the Oxford English Dictionary, in a surprisingly lengthy entry, does give "steal".

Employed on the Doonesbury website, in the answer to a FAQ - appropriately, since the question is about that memorable character from the strip, Mr Jay, an  anthropomorphic joint. The answer provides a (broken) link to a cartoon in which he features, with the plea: Just don't bogart the strip."

With the connotations of wrongful appropriation, greed, and sharing, this is a much more complex notion than that of theft, and therefore a perfect expression to apply to what people intend when they speak of intellectual property theft.

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