About copying other people’s code culpability

Benoît Quenaudon
1 min readMay 15, 2017

When I find some cool stuff―helper methods, automation scripts, fancy way to do things―in some projects I am checking out, there is usually a strong appeal inside of me to apply the same sweet stuff to my own projects.

Somewhat, I feel guilty of my copying many existing code into my own projects. What if the original author would show up and shout at me: “Oh, I wrote that.”

Should I feel guilty or sorry I benefited from someone else’s work? I don’t know.

I usually add the right copyright to explicitly acknowledging my plagia. When possible, I also try to pay back with modest contributions. I still don’t feel innocent and that bugs me sometimes. I try to remember something Benjamin Franklin wrote in his autobiography about people complaining about one Presbyterian preacher, Hemphill, for his sermons were not fully original. Benjamin goes: “I rather approved his giving us good sermons composed by others, than bad ones of his own manufacture.