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Chapter 7






"Never plagiarize," says the Society of Professional Journalists in this short position paper.

Journalism professor Steve Buttry gives these helpful tips about when to attribute information and how to avoid plagiarism.

Purdue's Online Writing Lab, called Purdue Owl, has a great primer on plagiarism—and avoiding it. 


Several sites offer plagiarism checkers.  They're not perfect, but can be helpful as another way to check that you haven't accidentally plagiarised.  

Plagiarism Checker from Small SEO Tools is one example.




Journalists who plagiarize and fabricate sources cause real damage to their own careers, their news organizations and the profession as a whole. Below is a short list of some of the people who have made that mistake:










"To understand fair use, you first need a basic grasp of copyright," begins the Student Press Law Center's guide to fair use.  The guide is clear and easy to use.


The Cornell Copyright Information Center's copyright chart is an accessible way to navigate through the many dates and restrictions of copyright law to help figure out whether you need permission to use a particular piece. (The Center's website has more information and helpful resources).


Columbia University Libraries provide this Copyright Quick Guide with helpful links and explanations.


Stanford University Libraries also has an easy-to-use site, packed with charts and information about copyright and fair use.


"Some common assumptions are wrong" about what's in the public domain on the Internet.  The University of Texas libraries' website helps to correct those assumptions.


This "Set of Principles in Fair Use for Journalists" from the Center for Media & Social Impact can help you better understand your rights under fair use.


If you need to use an image but don't have the money or time to pursue copyright permission, you can find banks of images in the public domain at places like "The Public Domain Review," or this guide from journalism professor Paul Bradshaw.


Can You Copyright Musical Notes?


One of the more interesting questions in copyright right now is how much a musician may borrow from or reference the sound of an earlier recording by a different artist. See what you think about these two cases: 


Katy Perry and others must pay nearly $3 million in damages because a jury found her song "Dark Horse" came too close to Flame's "A Joyful Noise."


Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams lost a multimillion-dollar copyright case over "Blurred Lines," which a jury found borrowed too much from Marvin Gaye's "Got to Give it Up."

A Fair(y) Use Tale"


This video is a short, amusing primer on copyright created by Eric Faden. It's also a good example of the types of work licensed through Creative Commons.

"Fair Use is Your Friend"


The Center for Media & Social Impact focuses on helping people understand what they can use under copyright and fair use laws. Examples start at 3:08. Here's the Codes of Best Practices they talk about.

Digital Image Rights Computator
Digital Image Rights Computator


This online tool works a bit like a flow chart: You answer a yes-or-no question, and, based on your answer, the program takes you to the next question, and so on.



In addition to Creative Commons, you can find copyright-free photos like this one of early journalist Nellie Bly at Wikimedia Commons or Flikr's "The Commons"—but you'll need to be sure to double-check particular licensing agreements before using them outside a news context. 

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