Plagiarism and Copyright – Know the Rules

Plagiarism and Copyright

I prepared this text for my students to help them understand the difference between plagiarism and copyright infringement as they work on videos as a class project. There is always confusion about what’s legal and what isn’t and what exactly constitutes plagiarism. I hope this is helpful for all.

How to avoid plagiarism in your work:
Plagiarism applies to ideas. If something is not your own original thought, then you cite the person or paper from which you got the idea. The complete reference for that paper or person must fo into the references cited.

How to avoid copyright infringement in your work:
Copyright applies to whole documents, images, and video. If you did not take the photo, draw the drawing, make the video etc., then it’s not yours to use unless you have permission. A CITATION IS NOT ENOUGH!

If an image or video has the copyright symbol on it, that means whoever is listed after that copyright symbol ‘owns’ the rights. You must have permission of that person or entity to use the image.

JUST BECAUSE SOMETHING IS ON WIKIMEDIA COMMONS DOES NOT MEAN YOU CAN USE IT. Many things posted on Wikimedia Commons are posted in violation of copyright. Also, citing Wikimedia Commons is not correct – they do not own copyright for anything posted there.

Look for Creative Commons licensing. It will look like: CC 2.0 SA-BY or something like that. I have Creative Commons licensing on my blog. CC allows the copyright owner of an image or video to allow others to use images legally.

Images for Creative Commons licenses.
Images for Creative Commons licenses.

Learn more here: CreativeCommons.org

If the licensing says “All Rights Reserved,” you may NOT use it at all without written consent of the owner. Just don’t mess with those things.

SA – means “Share alike,” meaning that you’ll have the same CC license on what ever you produce as did the image that you’re borrowing.

BY – means “By,” and requires that you credit the copyright owner. If you use an image from my blog post, you would credit me. Unless I’ve used (and credited) someone else’s image. Then you credit them.

NC – means “Non-commercial.” The copyright owner is insisting that you don’t take their image and make money off of it, either by selling the image itself for profit, or by using their image in advertising for your company.

ND – means “No derivatives.” This is not a knock on calculus. This means that if you want to use this image, it must be used ‘as-is.’ If derivative are allowed, that means it can be adapted for your purpose, but credit must still be given.

When citing materials that have a CC license, it’s important to include the licensing agreement, like I did here. I did not draw any of the silhouettes in this figure (though I did draw the figure):

Aves - G.E. Lodge (T.M. Keesey) Public Domain Pygostylia - Changchengornis hengdaoziensis - Matt Martyniuk CC 3.0 NC-SA-By Eumaniraptora - Archaeopteryx - T.M.Keesey Public Domain Maniraptora - Jianchangosaurus yixianensis - Hanyong Pu, Yoshitsugu Kobayashi, Junchang Lü, Li Xu, Yanhua Wu, Huali Chang, Jiming Zhang, Songhai Jia & T. Michael Keesey CC 3.0 By Neotetanurae - Sciurumimus albersdoeferi - Gareth Monger CC 3.0 By Theropoda - Tyrannosaurus rex - Scott Hartman CC 3.0 NC-SA-By Theropoda - Eodromaeus murphi - Conty (Modified) CC 3.0 By Apatosaurus - Scott Hartman CC 3.0 NC-SA-By Pterosauria - Preondactylus buffarinii - Mark Witton CC NC-SA-By Ornithodira - Dromomeron romeri - Nobu Tamura CC 3.0 By Crocodylia - Crocodylus porosus - Steven Traver Public Domain Archosauromorpha - Prolacerta broomi - T.M. Keesey Public Domain
Aves – G.E. Lodge (T.M. Keesey) Public Domain
Pygostylia – Changchengornis hengdaoziensis – Matt Martyniuk CC 3.0 NC-SA-By
Eumaniraptora – Archaeopteryx – T.M.Keesey Public Domain
Maniraptora – Jianchangosaurus yixianensis – Hanyong Pu, Yoshitsugu Kobayashi, Junchang Lü,
Li Xu, Yanhua Wu, Huali Chang, Jiming Zhang, Songhai Jia & T. Michael Keesey CC 3.0 By
Neotetanurae – Sciurumimus albersdoeferi – Gareth Monger CC 3.0 By
Theropoda – Tyrannosaurus rex – Scott Hartman CC 3.0 NC-SA-By
Theropoda – Eodromaeus murphi – Conty (Modified) CC 3.0 By
Apatosaurus – Scott Hartman CC 3.0 NC-SA-By
Pterosauria – Preondactylus buffarinii – Mark Witton CC NC-SA-By
Ornithodira – Dromomeron romeri – Nobu Tamura CC 3.0 By
Crocodylia – Crocodylus porosus – Steven Traver Public Domain
Archosauromorpha – Prolacerta broomi – T.M. Keesey Public Domain

Public Domain:
Some items have no copyright and fall under public domain. These images, videos, or works you can use freely. Anything coming out of the United States government, like images from NASA, generally fall under public domain. That’s the law. That said, it still is good form to credit your sources at all time.

PLEASE USE EXTRA CAUTION WHEN DEALING WITH ARTWORK! Artists work very hard on their pieces and deserve all the credit they can get. Artists also frequently have their work stolen by copyright infringement, convenient cropping, and lack of citation. Don’t do this!

Published by paleololigo

Scientist (Paleontology, Geochemistry, Geology); Writer (Speculative and Science Fiction, plus technical and non-technical Science); Mom to great boy on the Autism spectrum; possessor of too many hobbies.

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