Peter Montgomery wrote:
> Actually, what came first was the blatant
> stealing of playscripts. Keeping a script
> safe was a major undertaking.

Plays had become a commodity. Thus they were worth stealing in the same
way that cattle or shoes or coins were worth stealing.

It would have been pointless to "steal" a playscrpt in ancient athens.
Just as in a hunter-gather group of 30 to 100 persons it would be
pointless to steal a knife from the person with whom you would be
hunting the next day! Apparently in Rome the text of lyrics had some
sort of value other than their literary worth.

It would be rather more difficult to "steal" a clay tablet than a
papyrus roll, a papyrus roll than a codex, a handwritten codex than a
printed book. And so forth. It becomes as easy to "steal" electronic
text as it was to "steal" oral text. And or "stolen" text merges (in
oral and electronic text) invisibly into "original" text. It wouldn't be
very hard to change these three paragraphs into pargraphs arguing a
different point, with the changes hardly separable from the "original."

The "stolen" text can be treated as a first draft. And of course it can
merge texts from many different "original" documents -- just as
descriptions of the death of X in the _Iliad_ can be almost word for
word identical with the death of Y at another time and another place.

I'm thinking off the top of my head here. A fishing expedition, and I've
already collected some valuable information from Marcia. Of course,
being retired, this text has no "value" for me, and anyone may steal it
and twist it to whatever ends they choose. :-)

Cf. also the way Baroque composers "stole" from themselves!