Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=1914857
 


 



Legal Writing, the Remix: Plagiarism and Hip Hop Ethics


Kim D. Chanbonpin


The John Marshall Law School

August 22, 2011

Mercer Law Review, Forthcoming

Abstract:     
In this Article, I focus on hip hop music and culture as an access point to teach first-year law students about the academic and professional pitfalls of plagiarism. Hip hop provides a good model for comparison because most of our entering students are immersed in a popular culture that is saturated with allusions to hip hop. As a point of reference for incoming law students, hip hop possesses a valuable currency as it represents something real, experienced, and relatable.

Significant parallels exist between the cultures of U.S. legal writing and hip hop, although attempting direct analogies would be absurd. Chief among these similarities is the reliance of both cultures on an archive of knowledge, borrowing from which authors or artists build credibility and authority. Whether it is from case law or musical recordings, the necessary dependence on a finite store of information means that the past work of others will be frequently incorporated into new work. The ethical and professional danger inherent in this type of production is that one who borrows too freely from the past may be merely copying instead of interpreting or innovating. In the academic world, this is plagiarism. Members of the hip hop community call this “biting.” In neither culture is this mode of production celebrated.

My goals for this project are two-fold. First, as a professor of legal writing, I want to ameliorate the problem of plagiarism that I have seen growing worse each year. Second, as a scholar, I would like to contribute to the growing body of literature on hip hop and the law. This Article marks the beginning of my attempt to theorize a hip hop ethics and develop its application to the teaching, the academic study, and perhaps eventually, the reform of the law.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 54

Keywords: legal writing, hip hop, plagiarism, citations

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Date posted: August 24, 2011  

Suggested Citation

Chanbonpin, Kim D., Legal Writing, the Remix: Plagiarism and Hip Hop Ethics (August 22, 2011). Mercer Law Review, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1914857

Contact Information

Kim D. Chanbonpin (Contact Author)
The John Marshall Law School ( email )
315 South Plymouth Court
Chicago, IL 60604
United States
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