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Copyright & Plagiarism
Copyright laws were passed by Congress to encourage creativity by ensuring that authors and creators receive credit and financial compensation for their work - so that if you make or write something, others cannot just give it away.
Some facts about copyright law:
- Only the person who creates a work has the right to reproduce (copy), display, perform, or distribute it.
- Anyone else needs written permission from the creator to do so.
- Works are automatically protected at the point of creation if:
- the work is original, and
- it is recorded in readable or tangible form (for example, in writing, in an audio format, on a web page, etc.).
- You DO NOT need to register the work or include a copyright symbol for it to have copyright protection.
To keep people from having to contact the author or creator every single time they want to use something, Congress approved some exceptions to allow limited use of copyrighted works without permission. The fair use doctrine is one of those exceptions. It permits limited use for criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship or research, within strict guidelines.
Fair use guidelines are posted in the Campus Center Copy Room. But as a general rule, to qualify as fair use:
- You cannot make copies that deprive the author of a sale. That's why the MTI Staff doesn't copy books or textbooks.
- You can only copy a small portion of the work, and it cannot be the most substantial or important part. There was a case where someone used only 300 words of a 20,000-word presidential speech, but they were sued and lost because it was the most important 300 words of the speech.
- You are limited in the amount of copies you can make, and you can’t make them repeatedly.
- If you have time to get permission from the author, you are required to do so.
The best policy? Always get permission!
Plagiarism is taking other people’s work or ideas and presenting them as your own, without giving them credit. This is a violation of MTI’s academic integrity policy.
Plagiarism penalties are enforced by schools and can result in a zero on an assignment, a failed class, suspension, or even expulsion.
To avoid plagiarizing:
- Start your research early so that you’re not tempted to copy others’ work.
- Read the website, article, or book. Then set it down and put it away so you can’t see the words. Take a minute to rewrite the ideas in your own words. This is called paraphrasing.
If you change only a few words from the original statement, it’s still plagiarism. You must rewrite the idea completely.
When quoting someone word for word, enclose the statement in quotation marks and list the person’s name.
Finally, ALWAYS list the source of the information (the person who wrote it), even if you rewrite it in your own words.
The best policy? Always use and cite others' words and ideas carefully. Better yet, be an original - use your own words!