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In article <email@example.com> firstname.lastname@example.org (DiscFild) writes: > I'm a composer faced with a moral/artistic dilemma. I have written a >couple of dozen melodies to words of Edna St. Millay, several of which are >first-rate, and deserve very much to be heard. The problem is this: the >Millay estate is very uncooperative, stubborn, and recalcitrant. If I were >to knock-off her poems, i.e., write new lyrics which retain the original >meter and emotional tenor of the original, would I liable to her estate? >In other words, what constitutes plagiarism in poetry? The co-opting of >the meter and the sensibility alone, even if all the words are different? Meter and emotional tenor are general characteristics, and there are very few variations of these - you are unlikely to be suspected of plagiarism if that's what you do. You might also read Steve Martin's piece on the back page of the most recent Ney Yorker for guidance.