• Fair Usage or Theft?

    We all love using the words of others to reinforce an argument, to disprove someone else's, or just for the vicarious pleasure of having something of interest in our thread or signature line.

    But when is this right and proper, and when is it copyright theft? Let me show you an example:

    "And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt."

    Now if I were to slip that, as is, into one of my posts, probably 90% of members wouldn't recognise it, but it's plagiarism (that little thing we all get upset about when we think it's going to happen to us). I have stolen someone else's words and, whether I meant to or not, passed them off as my own.

    Now, if I also tell you:

    "And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt."
    Sylvia Plath

    then all is well. How hard is that? One is breaking the law, the other isn't. One is plagiarism, the other is Fair Usage.

    There are 3 very good reasons for citing your sources:

    1: It's unethical not to. Regardless of legalities, do you want to steal copyright, or uphold the principle by quoting your source? How would you like it if they were your words?

    2: It's illegal not to. To plagiarise - to quote without attributing the words to the original author - is breaking the law, and potentially leaves both you and the owner of the site open to prosecution.

    3: Quoting your sources makes you look cool, knowledgeable and well read - and we all want people to think we're cool.

    4: It allows others to check out the original source for further material or to see if you got it right.

    Bottom line is... if you quote someone, tell us who it is. If you don't know, look it up on Google. If you can't find out, don't use the quote. Ever.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Fair Usage or Theft? started by Mike C View original post