Tag Archives: attribution

Online copyright infringement

I’ve been reading an informative post on the IPWatchdog blog “How to stop online copyright infringement“.  Whilst in our line of work we think more often about issues that arise from plagiarism or lack of attribution there are certainly principles worth noting about avoiding copyright infringement.

The IPWatchdog article says:

“Copyright infringement is rampant on the Internet…”

and goes on to explain:

“Copyright infringement has nothing to do with citation or linking back.  A copyright owners rights have been infringed if another reproduces the work without their permission with or without citation.  In the minds of some copyright infringement is synonymous with plagiarism.  Plagiarism, however, is the passing off of the work of another as your own without citation.  Legally, however, copyright infringement is merely copying, with or without appreciation of the wrong.  So those who cite and link back are not absolved from copyright infringement.  They are misappropriating an original work and free-riding.”

The author goes on to explain what practical steps can be taken to try to prevent online copyright infringement (in the US).

Scanning other sites dealing with this topic I noticed again the use a tool that inserts an automatic citation if you cut and then paste their text.  For example, visit the post “How to Handle Plagiarism, Content Theft Online“, then cut and paste something from the body of the post.  You will see following your pasted text their citation and invite to read the full item.

Of course this isn’t going to stop plagiarism or copyright infringement, but it is a great tool to act as a reminder to attribute, and could also help ensure the correct citation is included!  I’d like to find out how to set it up.  Does anyone know?

Avoiding plagiarism; ethics, attribution and authorship

SciDev.net recently posted an item entitled “Plagiarised scientific papers plague India”, dealing with some recent plagiarism controversies, and bemoaning a lack of intervention at government level.

“Nandula Raghuram, secretary of the Delhi-based Society for Scientific Values, an independent watchdog, told SciDev.Net that the Indian government has not heeded calls for an independent ethics body in the country.”

Attribution and authorship are critical issues to any research organisation anywhere in the world, but in practical terms how can we  make sure people are properly credited for their work?  High profile plagiarism cases certainly bring it out in the open, but nobody wants to see those (apart from the original authors perhaps!)

The SGRP published in August 2010 a “Booklet of CGIAR Centre Policy Instruments, Guidelines and Statements on Genetic Resources, Biotechnology and Intellectual Property Rights” of which ethics is a part.  However, these statements don’t deal with issues at the level of plagiarism or copyright. 

An old post on the Scientific Misconduct blog: ““We promise to be honest” at the University of Toronto – is it enough?”, talks of the University of Toronto’s use of an “honest oath”  – an interesting way of making sure people are aware of their responsibilities.  Dealing with this issue at the time contracts are signed certainly confirms awareness, but how effective is it?

We need to pay attention to these issues.  As the role of social media and knowledge sharing increases, we will need to pay even more attention to make sure individual creators are not forgotten.

Necessary piracy?

A recent New York Times article talks about “copycatting” in the fashion industry.  (N.B. This kind of copying is not counterfeiting, as only the design is copied and not the label.)

“Rather than harming originators, as piracy is supposed to do, in the fashion context it often helps them.”

So, here we have an example where copying without citation is not only accepted by an industry, it is even considered key to keeping that industry alive.  The world is not black and white!

Vanishing online content; a copyright issue?

A recent post on “Techdirt” opens an interesting discussion.  The article reminds us yet again that internet is challenging the way copyright operates.  There can be a struggle dealing with literary works contained in a static medium such as a newspaper when that same material is available online — and this can be at odds with capitalising on the power of the internet when disseminating and retaining information.

The techdirt article uses the example of a page on The Guardian website where under the title of a historical item the following words appear:

“this article has been removed as our copyright has expired.”

The beauty of the web is that unlike a traditional medium you don’t have to rely only on today’s headline to bring in readers.  The archives can receive traffic as easily as the day’s headline.  And its bad form to post something, circulate the link and then remove that content.  This can lead future recipients of the link to find the content no longer exists. 

In fact, a useful method to adopt when quoting a web link in a publication is to include “last viewed on [insert date]” to cover this eventuality.  (This practice also has other uses such as ensuring that one could refer to the terms of use at the date of access should a dispute arise about this issue. This is because one copyright work could be subjected to different licensing terms by the owner of that work. )

As content providers we need to be sure of what we have before posting.  In a public sector environment such as ours we are encouraged to share and make all materials available to all.  Whilst law suits are an unlikely for us there are other responsibilities to consider, such as confidentiality, attribution, timing or simply common courtesy.  Far better to double check an author is happy for their work to be shared, than to post without permission and risk causing offence – whatever the copyright situation.  WARNING: Bad IP practice can lead to bad public relations!

(Thanks to Guat Hong Teh for her input to this post)

The blog aggregator and subsequent attribution debate

These posts raise interesting debate that can be applied to a wider discussion on attribution and the application of fair use principles.  It’s kind of like saying please and thank you!  To properly attribute costs nothing, whereas failing to properly attribute can be damaging –as the comments on these posts can testify.

Fair Use. Creative Commons & attribution

The above link is to a short video clip that attempts to explain the principle of Fair Use in relation to online media.  Victoria recently sent this to Shawn Landersz, who as well as working for CAS-IP, is a keen photographer/amateur film maker, and has somewhat of an online following for his work via Flickr and other networks.  Therefore as both a content generator and one who disseminates content I was interested to hear his thoughts about the use of his copyrighted works, and the ways he uses the works of others.  He said:

“I don’t mind if I find my clips or pictures around the internet, as long as they mention its mine.”

This is of course subjective.  Shawn said himself that:

“not all amateur photographers or filmmakers agree [that attribution will suffice] and they [also] have the right to protect their work.”

There are a lot of differing approaches out there.  It’s easy to find YouTube content containing confused home made disclaimers along the lines of “I am sorry if I am violating copyright, I didn’t mean to…”??  Incidentally, YouTube have a good resource for helping people to understand copyright issues.

Creative Commons can go a long way to clarifying some of the grey areas.  If one takes out a CC licence on ones work, then it is explicit that sharing, copying and derivative works are permissible given certain conditions.

But perhaps the best-best practice of all is that if you aren’t sure – ask!  And for those working in IP practice we need to be especially vigilant with these matters.  It could be one of the more effective ways of demonstrating IP practice!

TED now talks many languages…


Great move by TED to initiate a translation project on its site.  TED’s wealth of video resources are now slowly becoming available in a variety of languages.  Their site says:

“the TED Open Translation Project brings TEDTalks beyond the English-speaking world by offering subtitles, interactive transcripts and the ability for any talk to be translated by volunteers worldwide”

The project in itself is an interesting one, translators are working to bring these resources to a wider audience for the sole reward of attribution.  Oh, the power of attribution for effective knowledge sharing is not to be underestimated!