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Q: How to give credit for sources used in writing ( Answered,   0 Comments )
Subject: How to give credit for sources used in writing
Category: Reference, Education and News > Teaching and Research
Asked by: dho1115-ga
List Price: $50.00
Posted: 07 Jul 2004 00:01 PDT
Expires: 06 Aug 2004 00:01 PDT
Question ID: 370703
Hello - I have a question about using other souces (books, magazines,
etc...) when writing a book or manual. When you use borrow content and
ideas from another author or writer to use as supplement in your book
or report and you document where you got that information from,
including the book and the author's name, but you did not contact the
author directly for permission (such as talking to him or even
e-mailing him), will you still be held liable for plagarism? Is just
documenting where and whom you got the information from enough, or do
you also have to get the author (and the publisher's) permission
           Also, how much of the other person's work can you use in
your own work? I assume you can't just copy an entire chapter, even if
you do give credit to the author,
   If I rephrase or rewrite the author's ideas and put it in my own
words, do I still have to document? I guess this is more a series of
questions on the legality of documenting, giving credit and getting
the author's permission.
Subject: Re: How to give credit for sources used in writing
Answered By: larre-ga on 07 Jul 2004 13:17 PDT
Thanks for asking!

As [freelance] research writers for the general public, Google Answers
Researchers must observe copyright and citation guidelines in our
writing that are very similar to those recommended for freelance
writers or journalists. I'll be glad to detail the basics of copyright
and writing for you. In doing so, I'm drawing on my memory of a number
of articles, codes of ethics, and analysis by experts in the fields of
journalism and writing ethics, as well as articles and guides that
I've turned up in my research today. I'll try follow those "best
practices" in presenting the information for you.

Overview | The Writers Encyclopedia - Ethics

"The code of ethics relating to readership is based on truth. It takes
effect when an idea for a novel, an article or even a filler is born.
It dictates that a writer know his subject. It necessitates that he
track down accurate information and complete the homework needed to
produce a credible piece of fiction or nonfiction that is his own and
not plagiarized from others. He doesn't mix fact and fiction. In
following this ethical code, the nonfiction writer investigates
opposing views and checks story corroborations. He honors
interviewee's requests for anonymity and does not quote information
given "off the record." The fiction writer narrates from a point of
view appropriate for his theme. He strives to create a worthy literary
work for his intended audience."

The Writers Market | Encyclopedia - E: Ethics for Writers

you use borrow content and ideas from another author or writer to use
as supplement in your book or report and you document where you got
that information from, including the book and the author's name, but
you did not contact the author directly for permission... Is just
documenting where and whom you got the information from enough, or do
you also have to get the author (and the publisher's) permission

You must ask for permission to use. Most of the exceptions are covered
under the doctrine of "Fair Use", which are outlined and referenced
further below. I encourage you to read the full articles that I'm
citing here. Under the Fair Use doctrine, only short excerpts are
allowed. My educational website and chapters from my books have used,
with my permission, in certain publications. In certain cases, I have
refused permission, also. Under copyright, the copyright holder has
the right to control how their original materials are used, and in
what setting.

Attorney Lloyd Jassin of CopyLaw writes: "If you intend to use
someone's copyrighted work, unless the use is considered a fair use,
you must obtain that person's written permission. Under federal
copyright law, only the copyright owner or someone acting with the
owner's authority, such as a publisher, can grant that permission.
While not every unauthorized use of a copyrighted work is an
infringement, whenever you use another person's words, illustrations,
photographs, charts or graphs in your own work you must be sensitive
to the risk of infringing that individual's copyright." | Getting Permission by Lloyd J. Jassin, Attorney  

Some usage, especially as a reference -is- allowed, with proper
citation. Virginia Commonwealth University Writing Guide explains the
proper way to use references to other works:

"What does "customary and proper acknowledgment" mean?

In writing, this refers to the use of quotation marks, citations, and
references. References are the list of sources used in a paper. They
are placed at the end of a paper, on a separate "References" page, in
alphabetical order by the author's last name. Citations are the
in-text referents to an item in your references list.

For example, the sentence, "Postman (1985) argues that television has
contributed to the decline of serious public debate" includes a
citation: "Postman (1985)" which would refer to the appropriate
reference at the end of the paper:

Postman, Neil. 1985. Amusing Ourselves to Death. New York: Penguin Books."

VCU Writing Guide | Writing Guide & Resources

how much of the other person's work can you use in your own work? I
assume you can't just copy an entire chapter, even if you do give
credit to the author..."

Without specific permission, the amount of copyrighted material
allowed is very limited. Web Ready offers a clearly written tutorial
on Fair Use. The lesson offers illustrations, examples, and fully
explains the four "tests" are used to determine Fair Use:

-- The purpose and character of the use.
-- The nature of the copyrighted work.
-- The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the
   copyrighted work as a whole.
-- The effect of use on the potential market for or value of the work.

WebReady Plus | Ethics: Copyright & Fair Use

Attorney Lloyd Jassin offers a number of Fair Use guidelines in his
article, "Fair Use in a Nutshell: A Roadmap to Copyright's Most
Important Exception". Among the most applicable to your question:

-- "Fact-based works, which can be expressed in limited ways, receive
   less protection than fanciful works that can be expressed in a
   multitude of ways."

-- "Synthesizing facts in your own words is better than verbatim 
   copying. However, close paraphrasing may constitute copyright 
   infringement if done extensively."

-- "Lack of credit, or improper credit, weighs against finding fair
   use. However, giving someone appropriate credit, will not, alone
   transform a "foul" use into a "fair use."

CopyLaw | Fair Use in a Nutshell by Lloyd J. Jassin, Attorney

Professor Alfred J. Drake of Chapman University provides clear
explanations of fair use, though advice and examples. I have quoted a
short excerpt, and recommend the full article.

"Be safe and sane in your borrowing of other people's language. Common
phrases like "a stitch in time saves nine" need no source. However,
the sentence "For Touchstone love is a ubiquitous human need that
seeks an object; it is very like a need that in animals is seasonal,"
unless you yourself originated it, had better be followed by (Gilman
28). Never paraphrase or copy another writer's language... without
making sure the reader knows that's what you're doing. There are
procedures for quoting and paraphrasing with propriety and
sophistication..." | Proper Citation Guide, by Alfred J. Drake

"If I rephrase or rewrite the author's ideas and put it in my own
words, do I still have to document?"

It depends upon how you phrase it. "Plagiphrasing?, a term coined by
Dr. Kathleen Turner, is the act of changing just a few words from the
orginal source, often keeping the same word and sentence structure.
This is unacceptable use. Alfred Drake explains paraphrasing:

"Paraphrasing is taking someone else's words and ideas and rephrasing
them almost exclusively in your own words. A good paraphrase presents
the essence of what someone else has written or said, but in no way
does it present the wording--or even the same sentence structure and
organisation--contained in the original. Paraphrases must still be
properly acknowledged by attribution and/or accurate documentation." | Plagiphrasing Guide, by Alfred J. Drake

Paraphrasing Examples - Five examples of correct and incorrect
paraphrasing from the School of Educationa, Indiana University,
Bloomington. Includes citation examples.

Paraphrasing: How to Quote, states, "Paraphrasing means that you are
putting another author's words into your own words. You are
essentially making the same point as the author without using the
exact words used by that author." Examples are shown in the full

Paraphrasing: How to Quote

Rodchester Institute of Technology offers a Copyright Tutorial that
include a Paraphrasing Worksheet. The lesson allows you to test your
own paraphrasing skills.

RIT Libraries | Paraphrasing Worksheet

Most book and magazine publishers have some form of ethics Code. In
the wake of recent scandals, authors are often asked to sign
disclaimers, or acknowledgement of those Codes, and, it is assumed,
can be held personally liable for violations. When in doubt, consult a
copyright law professional.

Further Resources:

The fine line between fact and thinly disguised fiction is the subject
of discussion in The Age, Thinly Disguised, by Caroline Baum. Baum
shares her experiences with the use of fact and character in both
nonfiction and fictional materials.

Thinly Disguised by Caroline Baum | July 19, 2003      

Media Ethics Bibliography and Online Resource - an extensive
collection of resources related to journalism and media ethics, by the
Poynter organization.

Poynter Online | Media Ethics   

Basic Copyright Concepts for Writers, by attorney Claire E. White,
explain copyright law in simplified terms:

What Copyright Law Covers -- "Copyright law protects "works of
authorship" which include literary works such as short fiction, short
stories, novels, nonfiction articles, poetry, newspaper articles,
newspapers, magazine articles, magazines, computer software, software
manuals, text advertisements, manuals, catalogs, brochures, and
compilations of information, such as databases. Other categories of
protected works include dramatic works, motion pictures, other
audiovisual works, and sound recordings. Copyright law does not
protect ideas, facts, inventions, processes, systems of operations,
words, names, symbols or proprietary information, although it may
protect the way these things are expressed. Inventions and processes
are protected under patent law. Words, names and symbols used to
identify good and services are protected by trademark law. Proprietary
information (information secret to a business such as customer lists)
is protected by trade secret law."

Writers Write | Basic Copyright Concepts For Writers by Claire E. White

Chicago Manual of Style Citation Guide provides a quick reference to
proper citation for a variety of media. The full Manual is available
at any library or bookstore.

Chicago Manual of Style Citation Guide

Online! Citation Styles

Berne Convention (Worldwide Copyright Convention)
for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works

The MIT Copyright FAQ

Stanford University Libraries | Copyright and Fair Use

Google Directory | Intellectual Property Copyright

Google Search Terms:

copyright ethics
"fair use" copyright
writers copyright

I hope you find this information helpful. If you have questions about
any of the material or links provided, please, feel free to ask for

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