Plagiarism is one of those words that triggers a strongly negative reaction for social bloggers. Plagiarists have been a significant problem on some social writing sites. In fact, some people feel that certain writing sites failed mostly because of rampant plagiarism and spam.
What is Plagiarism
Plagiarism is a form of dishonesty. It is claiming someone else’s work as your own. Plagiarism is not a legal matter, but it is a matter of academic and professional integrity. Putting one’s own name to something written by another is a form of fraud. It can result in the loss of a job, expulsion from university, or removal from a writing site.
A more particular kind of plagiarism, self-plagiarism, is passing off one’s own past work as an original composition. Submitting previously written content for school or work is a lie. It is dishonest. It cheats one’s peers, who have done new work. And especially when the content is published online, it can hurt not only the author’s reputation, but that of an employer or writing site. You should never submit previously published or graded work without prior consent. And you should always be honest about content that contains or consists mainly of work you did at an earlier date.
Is Plagiarism a Legal Matter?
Not directly, no. To my knowledge, there aren’t any laws that forbid plagiarism. The bigger issue with plagiarized content is that it usually comes from a published source. And that source is probably subject to copyright.
So the legal issue is copyright infringement. And it’s not only a violation of rights, but it’s a kind of theft.
Is it OK to Copy if I Cite the Source?
In most cases, no. You may not, for example, use an artist’s copyrighted graphic or a photo from a news story that was published online. Not even if you’ve seen that same photo on a dozen other pages!
Copyright is exactly what it sounds like: the right to determine who can and cannot make or distribute copies of one’s work, and under what conditions. Unless you have a specific permission or license to use the work, it’s off limits. You can’t include an artist’s photo in your article, nor can you use a large portion of a writer’s text in your own. Not without permission.
What About Fair Use?
Fair use exceptions generally apply to excerpts or snippets of the original work. You cannot duplicate a significant portion of the work, let alone all of it, without permission. And since a photo is a complete work, you can’t use a copyrighted photo or a significant portion of it without permission. Not even if you cite the source.
Always be sure that your articles are your own original work and that you keep any quotes down to a sentence or two, with a proper reference. Never use an artist’s image without permission or a license. And if you obtain a license through a stock image site, be sure you are following the requirements of the license as closely as possible.
If you see an article on BlogBourne that contains either plagiarized content or some form of copyright infringement, please use the “Report Article” button to bring it to the attention of the admin. Plagiarism and copyright violations hurt us all, so it’s up to all of us to help stop the people who commit these acts.
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Original content © 2016 Kyla Matton Osborne
This article was published on BlogBourne. If you are reading this content anywhere else, it has probably been stolen. Please report it to me so I can address any copyright infringements. Thank you!