Somehow I missed this New York Times story about a freelance writer for NBC Sports being fired because he "plagiarized" dialogue from the West Wing to use in a feature about a trainer in the Kentucky Derby. As near as I can tell, the entire "plagiarized" section consists of the following:
In the script, read by NBC's Tom Hammond, Matz was extolled because he "ran into the fire to save the lives of three children." Hammond paused dramatically and added, "Ran into the fire."
The West Wing version was:
Martin Sheen, who plays President Josiah Bartlet, delivered a speech praising the rescuers who "ran into the fire to help get people out." He paused and added dramatically, "Ran into the fire."
Oh, there's a second section
The Derby script summed up the changed lives of Matz, Solis and Hendricks by saying that the "funny thing about life is that every time we think we've measured our capacity to meet its challenges, we're reminded that that capacity may well be limitless."
In "The West Wing," Bartlet said, "The streets of heaven are too crowded with angels, but every time we think we've measured our capacity to meet a challenge, we look up and we're reminded that that capacity may well be limitless."
Wow. This is a good example of why I support the free culture movement. The reaction of NBC to this situation is not one that we should consider normal.
It's also a good example of the New York Times being fishy. Their words describing the dramatic pause in the first example contribute to the impression of copying, but those words are used only by the New York Times, not by the West Wing or the NBC Sports feature.
(Jabber posting works.)