An article in the NY Times article this morning explored the increasing lack of understanding of what plagiarism is among students: Plagiarism Lines Blur for Students in Digital Age.
It reminded me of a recent thread on this forum where members discussed Citing in Forums.
So, perhaps a further discussion and exploration might be of interest. Is it okay to copy several paragraphs of an article as long as you cite where you got it with a URL? If you quote most of the article, even fully and properly attributed to its source, is it still plagiarism?
What if you rewrite the material? Is that okay? No, says Ronald B. Standler, a Massachusetts copyright attorney says in an article posted here: http://www.rbs2.com/copyr.htm#anchor400000 on "Using someone else’s text in your writing":
Standler says the only way to quote even a small part of someone else’s work is to fully cite the reference:Find some text elsewhere; copy it; make a few changes, deletions or additions; and then upload it to a website. This is copyright infringement, a violation of the copyright owner's exclusive legal rights under 17 U.S.C. § 106 to make (or to authorize) derivative works.
(from Some Observations on Copyright Law by Ronald B. Standler, http://www.rbs2.com/copyr.htm.)Find some text elsewhere, copy a small part of it, and include it as a quotation in your work. To avoid plagiarism, be careful to both (a) use the indicia of a quotation (i.e., either quotation marks or indented block of single-spaced text) and (b) include a complete bibliographic citation (e.g., author's name, title of work, URL, etc.) to the source of the work. This is the only acceptable way of using text written by someone else in your webpage or other writing.
Standford U's Fair Use website offers guidelines for webmasters as well as “Five Ways to Stay Out of Trouble” when it comes to questions of copyright on the Internet.
More helpful WPW threads and the references:
- Copying/Republishing Poll on WPW
- 10 Big Myths about copyright explained, by Brad Templeton: http://www.templetons.com/brad/copymyths.html
- Copyright Law Information & Articles from KEYTLaw: http://www.keytlaw.com/Copyrights/copyrightlaw.htm - offers a large number of articles on the topic including more myths, and obtaining copyright protection and remedies.
It may be of some note that WPW's recent update to the Forum Rules is now very clear on plagiarism (bold mine):
Don't Break the Law - Do not make any unlawful, libelous, defamatory posts, or posts that infringe upon any intellectual property rights. Do not conduct any activity that may be illegal, or harmful in any way, to people, to software or hardware, such as hacking, flooding scripts viruses or Trojan horses. This also goes for references to any 'warez', cracks, serials or illegally obtained copyrighted content!