Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Citations

In 2000, the World Intellectual Property Organization declared April 26th the day on which they would raise awareness about the importance of patents, copyright, trademarks and designs. In the quickly changing world of the information age, when the internet provides virtually instant access to so much information to so many people, the issue of proper use of intellectual property is often overlooked.

Judaism is, in many ways, a cerebral and intellectual religion. The Talmud (oral law) is filled with discussions and debates on points of law, both minute and grand. Students of Talmud have often been noted for their excellent ability to recognize and decipher problems based on the skills they learned from studying the depths of the oral law.

Regarding respect for intellectual property, Judaism places immense importance on giving credit where credit is due. In Pirkei Avot, the section of the Mishna associated with ethics, the sages noted that “saying [an idea] in the name of the one who said it brings redemption to the world” (Pirkei Avot/Ethics of the Fathers 6:6). The example provided is from the Book of Esther, “Esther told the king in Mordechai’s name” (2:22). As a result of Esther’s actions, the Jews of Persia were saved from the evil schemes of wicked Haman. In the Talmud, however, one often finds even more lengthy citations in which one sage quotes another citing a third, all to ensure that an idea was attributed to its proper source.

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