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Copyright Use: Referring to content from other sources




What I am going to refer below is a practise that I follow (and as always, you should be very sure that I am not a lawyer, so what I do or say is not legally backed, and cannot be used as a defence; it is based on my observations and readings) in order to refer to content from other sources. We see this all the time – you find some great article written somewhere on the web, and want to write your opinion based on that article, and in the middle of your post, you also want to refer to the other article. What is it that should do ethically, and what limits should you not cross.
Well, I write about my views on politics, and it is important for me to read a number of news stories in those posts that I write. However, it would not be kosher for me to just lift text from a new site, and pass that off as mine. This would be legally and ethically incorrect, and would land me in trouble. And of course, there would be other problems – I would not be actually writing my opinion, just stealing content. So what is it that I do, and which I feel is right ?
Well, here are some of the points that I make sure that I always follow:
– Make sure that the post I do is my own opinion
– Post a few lines or sentences from the post that I quote, with appropriate blockquotes
– Give an explicit link to the post or site from where I am using the few sentences
– Make sure that I do not cherry pick the sentences I use, the idea is that I should not take the most important lines from the other article (what not to do:use the most important lines from the other articles so that somebody would not need to read the other article)
– Not have just one or two sentences of my own, instead my own sentences should be overall more content than the article that I copy
– If somebody writes to me to ask me to remove their referred content (I would remove the content)
Obviously, there are no hard and fast rules for referring content, but I always strive to ensure that it would never seem like I am stealing content. The idea should always be that I am writing original content, and referring to a few lines from somebody else’s content is only for support, or for review or criticism.

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