Nina Paley's latest meme-y video, "Credit is Due (The Attribution Song)" is a great, provocative one-minute short on the value of correctly attributing work when you use it. Paley is a thoughtful copyright abolitionist, and she uses this song to talk about the difference between plagiarism (a kind of fraud) and copying (the basis for culture).
In the accompanying essay, Paley cops to the complexity of "always giving credit," and discusses the difficulty of exhaustively crediting everyone who's made a contribution to your work:
Attribution is a way to help your neighbor. You share not only the work, but information about the work that helps them pursue their own research and maybe find more works to enjoy. How much one is expected to help their neighbor is determined by (often unspoken) community standards. People who don't help their neighbors tend to be disliked. And those who go out of their way to deceive and defraud their neighbors – i.e. plagiarists – are hated and shunned. Plagiarism doesn't affect works – works don't have feelings, and what is done to one copy has no effect on other copies. Plagiarism affects communities, and it is consideration for such that determines where attribution is appropriate.
At least that's the best I can come up with right now. Attribution is actually a very complicated concept; if you have more ideas about it, please share.
(via Command Line)