[cc-community] Copyright - Plagiarism

Fred Benenson fred.benenson at gmail.com
Sun May 4 13:26:56 EDT 2008

Just to clarify -- there's a difference between plagiarism and copyright
infringement. While plagiarism is largely a socially constructed kind of an
infringement (and is extra-legal, or even non-legal), copyright is a
specific kind of legal infringement. Put another way, you're breaking the
law when you infringe on copyright, whereas you're breaking social norms
when you engage in plagiarism.

Also note while sufficient, it is not necessary to commit copyright
infringement while committing plagiarism -- the academic community is just
as likely to call you a plagiarist if you copy the ideas of a previous
author (without attribution) as if you were to copy her text, so determining
if a particular text was copied directly is really not enough to settle
whether a particular publishing counts as plagiarism.

This also works the other way around -- simply copying text does not
explicitly constitute plagiarism as there is a relatively standard academic
procedure of using quotation marks and attribution to avoid charges of

So there are really two classes of answers to your question -- one assumes
that you are only talking about plagiarism (and Matt's answer holds) and
another set if you're talking about copyright infringement when you say
plagiarism. Though I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice, it would
seem much more difficult to infringe on copyright that you owned than it
would be to plagiarize it. Though note that this leaves the very real
possibility that you can infringe on copyright that you created but don't
own (see: many musicians getting sued for reworking / performing their own
work that a record company actually owns the rights to).

So if you're talking about a manuscript being based off a previously
published book, the legal question is really who owns the rights to the
original book (or more specifically, the rights to make derivative works of
the book) not whether or not its within the constructed notion of plagiarism
to publish such a similar work.

Hope that helps,


On Sun, May 4, 2008 at 1:06 PM, Bobbie <rkr4cds at comcast.net> wrote:

> THX Matt; in this case it would be from one published book into a new
> manuscript.
> 2008 (c) RKR4CDS
> http://www.BeyondBasicBears.com
> eBay ID ~ rkr4cds
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