A lot of writing sites link to posts on the DailyWritingTips site. We like that. Sometimes they run a brief quotation followed by a link to the rest of the article on our site. I see nothing wrong with that.
Sometimes, however, they post an entire article on their sites, followed by attribution and a link to DWT. Apparently they are acting in good faith, imagining that including attribution makes it all right to reproduce the entire post. It isn’t. That’s copyright violation.
This week I happened across a site that not only publishes our posts in their entirety, but does so without attribution: leestringer.net (not linked for obvious reasons). Some of my posts are attributed to “Sweet Jane.”
There is a “Go to Source” link that appears after a Twitter icon at the far bottom of the posts. Perhaps that’s intended as a defense in case of being called on it.
The way our material is integrated into the overall design of the poaching website, the site’s readers probably don’t even notice the buried “source” link. It took me a while to find it, and I was looking.
Naturally this experience got me thinking about plagiarism.
Plagiarism is theft. It’s from Latin plagiarius meaning “kidnapper” or “plunderer.”
Inexperienced writers sometimes commit plagiarism unintentionally by paraphrasing badly, misquoting, or failing to attribute a quotation to its source.
Unscrupulous writers do it intentionally, in order to profit from the work of others.
Anyone who writes, or makes use of the writing of others, needs to become informed about copyright and fair use.
An excellent discussion of copyright infringement is Brad Templeton’s 10 Big Myths about copyright explained.
An academic take on plagiarism useful to students can be found on the University of Wisconsin-Platteville library site.