An increasing problem in online communication and publication is copyright violation. Many texts are available to Internet users and the temptation is there for people just to copy and paste what they have read into their own work. Even if you had free access to the document, this kind of action is usually in violation of a copyright law. If you get caught in violation, even if it was unintentional, you stand to suffer academic, professional and legal repercussions. In order to help you avoid violating these laws, I present this list.
1. Use a site that supplies copyright-free material like Creative Commons.
If you use a site that supplies copyright-free material, you will never violate copyright laws. It’s ok (legally) to use that text.
2. Assume anything you read online (and certainly anything in a book or magazine) is copyrighted and treat it as such.
Never make the mistake of thinking that something is not copyrighted just because you can’t see the © symbol. There are many types of content that are Intellectual Property and copyright-able.
3. Always cite ideas that you got from another text.
It’s perfectly fine to be inspired by the ideas in another text for what you want to do in your next research proposal or paper, but you need to acknowledge where those ideas came from. Don’t pretend like you made up the idea because a( you probably didn’t, and b( even you did, you should still acknowledge other people who have done similar work.
4. When using text from a source, always put that text in quotations.
It’s never a good idea to pretend like someone else’s phrases and sentences are your. Make sure that anything taken word-for-word from another source is put in quotation marks to indicate that it’s not your own.
5. Cite quotations.
This follows from the previous point. You should always cite your quotations from other texts. Never quote something and then forget to put down where you got it from.