Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Plagiarism and Other Legal Tangles (Part 2 of 11)

I'm not a lawyer, so I'm distilling the information I've gathered from my best sources in print and online.

Plagiarism means presenting someone else's words or ideas as if they were your own. It's a form of stealing. It also means claiming something as original when it's derived from what someone else has written.

The expression of original ideas is called intellectual property and copyright laws protect that property.

Although probably obvious, here are examples of plagiarism:
  • turning in someone else's work as your own; 
  • copying words or ideas from others without giving credit; 
  • failing to put quotation marks around a quotation; 
  • changing words but copying the sentence structure without giving credit;
  • copying so many words or ideas from a source that it makes up the majority of your work, even if you give credit. This violates the fair use law. (See Part 10). 
You can avoid stealing or plagiarism by citing your sources. You acknowledge that you have borrowed from someone and provide readers with enough information to find the original source. (See Part 8 on how to cite your sources.)

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