According to Wikipedia, “Copyright is a set of exclusive rights granted to the author or creator of an original work, including the right to copy, distribute and adapt the work. Copyright does not protect ideas, only their expression or fixation.”
According to common use, copy-paste is the simplest method of ‘stealing’ someone’s original work/expression of ideas. Unfortunately, this still is common practice among students in Romanian schools when they are requested to write a report/paper/article for one subject or the other. In recent years though, teachers all over Romania have been paying more and more attention to papers their students are handing in and the copy-paste practice is slowly but steadily losing ground.
People who feel they have something to say and want to share their feelings, ideas and/or opinions in writing – not only, but especially when publishing their writing – should be aware that:
- anyone can make use of quotations, provided they put the words/sentence/paragraph between quotation marks (“…”);
- the credits for the quotations should be given either before it (e.g. As X Y said in his article/novel, “…” ) or after it, in paranthesis (e.g. “…” (X Y, Title of article/novel));
- by copy-pasting as little as a sentence from someone else’s writing and not crediting that writer, the author signing the article gives any reader the impression that they have come up with all the ideas and/or opinions expressed there;
- by not crediting the real author, the person signing the article claims that all the ideas expressed there are their own, deprives the real author of their ownership of that idea and misleads the reader;
- copyright applies to anything that is an original creation, be it a piece of writing, a photo, a musical piece, an art piece, or some lyrics; “copyright now covers a wide range of works, including maps, dramatic works, paintings, photographs, sound recordings, motion pictures and computer programs” says Wikipedia.
To avoid unpleasant situations such as the one mentioned in Adrian’s latest post at #13, everyone should know that:
- a responsible teacher should always check to what extent a student’s written work is original, especially when they recognise a certain sequence of words;
- forgetting to correctly mark quoted text and credit it is the most common excuse for not having done it and it wouldn’t stand as evidence in case the real author sued the absent-minded person who copied their words;
- anyone can copy a sequence of 5-7 words, put it between quotation marks on Google search and check if that expression is original or has previously been used by a different author;
- ideas can be (and are often) copied, but there are only two ways of doing it: either by quoting the original expression of the ideas and crediting the original author or by rephrasing/paraphrasing the ideas.