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Blog of Roman Trytyachenko

Copywriting, Credit and Fair Use

In effective content strategy creation, it is important to know the distinctions between plagiarism and copyright infringement.  You must know how the two overlap and, most importantly, how they differentiate.

Well, copyright violation deals with any infringement of one’s copyright, whether a writer is taking credit for someone else’s work. One vital note about fair use is that all problems of it involve attribution. An act of plagiarism never considers being a fair use. So, if you ever want to claim fair use when copying from someone else’s work, you need to make sure to follow correct credit procedures, just to be safe.

While attribution and plagiarism is surely part of the conversation about fair use, the overlap between the two is much more interesting and worth learning about. It is very important to know the difference because mistakes like this one are causing people to both think that they have protection when they’re infringing and pursuing infringements that don’t exist.

The Four Factors of Fair Use

When thinking whether or not use is a fair use, there are four factors that you need to consider before making a decision. Those factors are:

The nature of the copyrighted work.

The character and reason of the use, including whether such use is for nonprofit educational purposes or commercial nature.

The substantiality and amount of used work about the copyrighted work as a whole

The effect on the potential market or value of the copyrighted work.

Most fair use cases center on questions about how transformative the use is (meaning is it merely replacing the original or creating a new work) and whether the use makes troubles in the market for the original.

Plagiarism and attribution don’t straightly enter into those questions or to any of the fair use factors. However, that doesn’t mean that attribution isn’t part of the equation. While plagiarism doesn’t promise that use is an infringement, it does make it much more probable.

Connection of Attribution and Fair Use

Well, actually none of the four factors directly deal with attribution. One of the factors not only looks at how transformative the use is but also what the reason for it. For instance, if the use is for commentary and educational purposes it’s more likely to be a fair use than if it’s for commercial purposes only.

An attributed use is, almost undoubtedly, going to be more favorable than plagiarized one. Pretty much all of the uses that the law favors, research, commentary, education, and other require attribution. Plagiarism is not going to be good when looking at “the character and the purpose” of the use.

Also, there are huge arguments about editorial content creation. Many defendants think that use or attribution and plagiarism is not harmful and that it is actually helpful to the original work. While that can be the case with attributed use, but it is pretty much never the case with plagiarism. When someone plagiarized someone else’s work, there is no way for a viewer or reader to be aware of the original and support it. This means that plagiarism harm the work and there is no way it can help it.

While that harm might be quite small and it’s still very likely the use isn’t a violation, plagiarism makes it much harder to differentiate if the use is harming for the original work or not.

The Importance of Attribution

Attribution plays the main role in separating copywriting and plagiarism. Even while none of the fair use factors directly ask about attribution, it is still very important.

In some cases, plagiarisms may qualify as fair use under the law, but they carry consequences and are still considered unethical. We are not talking about consequences from a copyright standpoint, but the writer image in the industry and general audients perception of him or her after plagiarism incident.

While the connection between attribution and fair use isn’t as sturdy as I made it out to be 12 years ago, it is still very important.

While you can copy a copyright-protected work, it can still be a fair use under the law. If you’re trying to build a firm, fair use argument, one of the best things that you can do is attribute properly. Though the fair use standards don’t directly look at attribution, attribution is still a part of an examination of the two most significant factors.

In the end, the damage that plagiarism does to a fair use argument is just another of several reasons one should stay away from plagiarism at all costs.


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