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<B><U><font color="tomato">WRITING & PLAGIARISM</FONT></U></b>


By: Brenda Lindley, March 30, 2005

The first thing that I’d like to recommend is to brush up on your spelling, grammar, punctuation and sentence and paragraph structure. I took four writing classes in college and boy have they paid off. While I still make mistakes they are fewer in-between. Not everyone needs to go to college to get writing experience. You can study yourself with many helpful books and products that are in the library, at bookstores and on the Internet.

I have compiled for you below some definitions and rules that I believe everyone should become familiar with. It will pay off in the long run, especially if you plan to have something published, to know about these types of things. As you will see below there are many phrases and words that describe an author’s work. I am not only a writer but also a compiler and composer.


Write: To form words, letters, etc., on a surface, as with a pen; To compose literary material; To communicate (with) in writing; To record information in a computer; To write words, books, a letter, etc., To put into writing; To write in full’ to write an account of (1).

Writer: One who writes, esp. as an occupation; author (1).

Compile: To collect and assemble data, writings, etc.; To compose a book, etc., of materials from various sources.
Compilation; Compiled; Compiling (1).

Compose: To make up; constitute; To put in proper form; to Create a literary work; to set type, to produce printed matter as by computer, etc.; to create works.
Composer; Composed; Composing (1).

Plagiarism: Kidnapper; To take ideas, writings, etc., from another and pass them off as one’s own.
Plagiarize; Plagiarizer, plagiarizing; plagiary; plagiarist (1).

Copy: A thing made just like another; Any of a number of books, magazines, etc., having the same contents; To make a copy of; To imitate.
Copies; Copied, Copying, Copyist (1).

Copycat: An imitator (1).

Fraud: Deceit; Trickery; Law intentional deception; a trick; an imposter (1).

Fraudulent: Based on or using fraud; done or obtained by fraud.
Fraudulence; Fraudulently (1).

Steal: To take another’s property, etc.; Dishonesty, especially in a secret manner; To gain insidiously or artfully; To be a thief.
Stole; Stolen; Stealing (1).

Copyright: © The exclusive right to the publication, sale, etc., of a literary or artistic work; To protect a book, etc., by copyright (1).

1. If you are not sure of the spelling of a word, look it up in the dictionary.

2. Use a Word program on a computer, if possible, such as, MSWord or Works. These have spelling and proper sentence structure error checks, and in my opinion makes writing go a lot faster and are invaluable.

3. After every sentence is stopped with a period (.) leave two (2) spaces before starting the next sentence.

4. When beginning a project your first attempt will be your “First Draft:” After you are satisfied with what you have thus far, check it for errors. You will then make the checked version your “Second Draft,” and then do the check again. For the best outcome of your writing project you will go through at least three (3) “Drafts” before you have your finished product ready to publish.

5. No matter how small or large your writing project ALWAYS put your name and the date you begun on your work. Even if you do not have a work copyrighted, you will still have proof of the existence of the time period of your work, which in some cases is enough to have a copycat or plagiarizer given fines by the courts or worse to put them behind bars.

6. ALWAYS sight (list) your sources and references. Be very mindful of the copyright laws and the common laws of courtesy among authors and writers. When in doubt always contact the source and get written direct permission to use sections of their work in yours.

7. After you have your finished product ready for publishing get it a copyright. Copyrighting your work is very simple to do, and you can find the forms right on the Internet. The cost is only $30.00 and is well worthwhile, especially when the day comes that someone tries to copy, plagiarize or steal your work. Without a copyright, in most instances, there is little you can do about a plagiarist. Copyright laws protect the originator or author of the work and hold up very well in a court of law.

These simple rules are by no means all there is to writing. I have giving you these simple rules as a starting guideline. I hope that they will be helpful to you and I wish you success in your writing. I’d like to now touch briefly on the subject of plagiarism.

Plagiarism comes in many forms and can sometimes be masked so deceitfully that it can be difficult to recognize. However, as an artist recognizes his own work and even parts of it if it has been changed, added to, deleted from, or covered up, so does the author recognize their own work that they have spent at times many years to develop. I’ve been the victim of plagiarist, a copycat, a thief, and fraud a few times in the past, and to date it is still being attempted in different ways by a group of individuals, and one webpage that is currently new to the Internet world.

Different ways that a plagiarist can disguise your work are:
1. Changing the title.
2. Changing the font and format.
3. Changing the date(s).
4. Changing, deleting, or adding to your sources and references.
5. Using only small parts of your work.
6. Adding some words in-between your work to make it appear like their own thoughts or ideas.
7. Stating that the author is “unknown.”
8. Stating that their work is “according to various sources,” and then not listing the sources or references.
9. Stating that work is copyrighted but there is NO copyright licenses available at the Library of Congress.
10. They will also forget to change your punctuation or other symbols that you have used.

Why do people commit plagiarism? Why do people commit fraud or become copycats?
Quite frankly it is quicker and easier to steal someone else’s work rather than having to do the required years of research for oneself. The age of computers is a delight for plagiarist because they can use the “copy & paste” feature by which they can commit fraud in just a few seconds with the click of a mouse. The plagiarist also does not have to use their own brain to figure out thoughts and ideas, or how to arrange subject matter into comprehensible material that the general public could understand. Perhaps the plagiarist simply does not have any genuine thoughts or ideas of their own. Perhaps the thief is jealous of the work of others. However, I believe that most often the plagiarist is just a lazy individual. For whatever reason, plagiarism and fraud is against the law no matter how you cut it.


“We are continually engaged with other people’s ideas: we read them in texts, hear them and discuss them, and incorporate them into our own writing. As a result, it is very important that we give credit where it is due. Plagiarism is using others’ ideas and words without clearly acknowledging the source of that information” (2).

“To avoid plagiarism, you must give credit whenever you use;
- another person’s idea, opinion, or theory;

- any facts, statistics, graphs, drawings, any pieces of information, that are not common knowledge;

- quotations of another person’s actual spoken or written words; or

- paraphrase of another person’s spoken or written words”(2).

“Plagiarism and the World Wide Web:
The World Wide Web has become a more popular source of information for student papers, and many questions have arisen about how to avoid plagiarizing these sources. In most cases, the same rules apply as to a printed source: when a writer must refer to ideas or quote from a WWW site, she must cite that source. If a writer wants to use visual information from a WWW site, many of the same rules apply. Copying visual information or graphics from a WWW site (or from a printed source) is very similar to quoting information, and the source of the visual information or graphic must be cited. These rules also apply to other uses of textual or visual information from WWW sites; for example, if a student is constructing a web page as a class project, and copies graphics or visual information from other sites, she must also provide information about the source of this information. In this case, it might be a good idea to obtain permission from the WWW site’s owner before using the graphics”(2).

“Strategies for Avoiding Plagiarism:
1. Put in quotations everything that comes directly from the text especially when taking notes.

2. Paraphrase, but be sure you are not just rearranging or replacing a few words. Instead, read over what you want to paraphrase carefully; cover up the text with your hand, or close the text so you can’t see any of it (and so aren’t tempted to use the text as a “guide”). Write out the idea in your own words without peeking.

3. Check your paraphrase against the original text to be sure you have not accidentally used the same phrases or words, and that the information is accurate” (2).

“Quotation: using someone’s words. When you quote, place the passage you are using in quotation marks, and document the source according to a standard documentation style” (2).

“Paraphrase: using someone’s ideas, but putting them in your own words. This is probably the skill you will use most when incorporating sources into your writing. Although you use your own words to paraphrase, you must still acknowledge the source of the information” (2).

“It is considered plagiarism if:
- the writer has only changed around a few words and phrases, or changed the order of the original’s sentences.

- the writer has failed to cite a source for any of the ideas or facts.

If you do either or both of these things, you are plagiarizing” (2) (Produced by Writing Tutorial Services, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN).

Internet Plagiarism:
“Plagiarism has never been easier than it is today. Before the Internet, cheating was labor-intensive and obvious. Potential plagiarists had to find appropriate works from a limited pool of resources, usually a nearby library, and copy them by hand. Since these resources were almost always professionally written, the risk of detection was very high. The Internet now makes it easy to find thousands of relevant sources in seconds, and in the space of a short time, plagiarists can find, copy, and paste together a term paper, article, a book, or even a webpage. Because the material online is produced by writers of varying levels of quality and professionalism, it is often difficult or impossible for educators and editors to identify plagiarism. The sheer size of the Internet seems to work in the plagiarist's favor” (3).

“Plagiarism is wrong for several reasons”
“First, it is lying. If you have been asked to write something as evidence that you have grasped the materials of the course you are taking, offering someone else's work as evidence is a lie. It is no different from having someone else take an examination in your name.

Second, it is an insult to your fellow students. When you plagiarize, just as when you cheat on an exam, you treat unfairly those who play by the rules. You seek an unfair advantage over them, and inevitably, you will find yourself looking down on those who devote their time and energy to the task which you have cheated on.

Third, when you use other people's words and ideas without their permission, it is stealing. It would be wrong to sneak into a factory and steal the products manufactured there during the day, and in the academy, words, ideas, paintings, compositions, sculpture, inventions, and other creations are what we produce. It is wrong to steal them and claim them as your own” (4).

“Presenting someone else's words or ideas as your own, in any form, constitutes plagiarism. Even if you found a way to express their idea without using any of their original words, that would still constitute plagiarism. Sorry. If you're going to use someone else's words and/or ideas, you have to give them due credit and in some instances get direct written permission” (4)

Copyright is a form of protection provided by the laws of the United States (title 17, U.S. Code) to the authors of “original works of authorship,” including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works. This protection is available to both published and unpublished works. Section 106 of the 1976 Copyright Act generally gives the owner of copyright the exclusive right to do and to authorize others to do the following:

- To reproduce the work in copies or phonorecords;

- To prepare derivative works based upon the work;

- To distribute copies or phonorecords of the work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending;

- To perform the work publicly, in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and motion pictures and other audiovisual works;

- To display the copyrighted work publicly, in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and pictorial, graphic, or sculptural works, including the individual images of a motion picture or other audiovisual work; and

- In the case of sound recordings, to perform the work publicly by means of a digital audio transmission” (6).

“It is illegal for anyone to violate any of the rights provided by the copyright law to the owner of copyright. For further information about the limitations of any of these rights, consult the copyright law or write to the Copyright Office” (6).

“The use of a copyright notice is no longer required under U. S. law, although it is often beneficial. Because prior law did contain such a requirement, however, the use of notice is still relevant to the copyright status of older works. Use of the notice may be important because it informs the public that the work is protected by copyright, identifies the copyright owner, and shows the year of first publication. Furthermore, in the event that a work is infringed, if a proper notice of copyright appears on the published copy or copies to which a defendant in a copyright infringement suit had access, then no weight shall be given to such a defendant's interposition of a defense based on innocent infringement in mitigation of actual or statutory damages, except as provided in section 504(c)(2) of the copyright law. The use of the copyright notice is the responsibility of the copyright owner and does not require advance permission from, or registration with, the Copyright Office” (6).

A work that is created (fixed in tangible form for the first time) on or after January 1, 1978, is automatically protected from the moment of its creation and is ordinarily given a term enduring for the author's life plus an additional 70 years after the author's death" (6).

“Copyright infringement occurs when a person copies someone else's copyrighted items without permission. This would also include public display of a copy of copyrighted work. If it is determined that a person is guilty of copyright infringement, penalties could include a court order to stop producing that item, confiscation of the items, and paying the owner of the copyright any profits you received (or could have received) as well as attorney fees.

Public domain is when something is no longer protected by a copyright. Traditional quilt blocks, such as an Ohio Star block, would fall under this category and you are free to use them without permission. Before 1978, a copyright lasted 28 years and could be extended another 47 years for a total of 75 years. After 1978, a copyright lasts the lifetime of the author plus 70 years. Go to this website for a handy chart of when works pass into the public domain. (5).

Criminal Resource Manual 1852:
“Penalties to be applied in cases of criminal copyright infringement (i.e., violations of 17 U.S.C. § 506(a)), are set forth at 18 U.S.C. § 2319. Congress has increased these penalties substantially in recent years, and has broadened the scope of behaviors to which they can apply. Statutory penalties are found at 18 U.S.C. § 2319. A defendant, convicted for the first time of violating 17 U.S.C. § 506(a) by the unauthorized reproduction or distribution, during any 180-day period, of at least 10 copies or phonorecords, or 1 or more copyrighted works, with a retail value of more than $2,500 can be imprisoned for up to 5 years and fined up to $250,000, or both" (7).


© 2005
For information on Copyrights & Infringement SEE:
Website & Photo © Copyright Laws