Thursday, October 19, 2006

Paraphrasing -- do it in good faith

I've noticed that a lot of short news stories on television station sites and other news sites have wording like "this material must not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed." This might seem to preclude even paraphrasing.

When someone includes material from another source in a literary effort, term paper -- or even a blog entry -- one should always try to add more content to what is being reported from the first source. The best situation occurs if one can cite several other sources that deal with the same story and compare them. If not, one would want to add content to the story by placing in a context in relation to other stories related to some particular newsworthy issue. In blogs, personal observations may well be able to add additional and original meaning to the original story.

There are some sources that discusses the possibility of infringement or plagiarism even when paraphrasing, if it is done haphazardly. Here are a few:

Ozlem Uzener and Boris Katz, "Non-Verbatim Copyright Infringement Detection for Text," at MIT, link here (PDF file).

Southwestern College, Winfield Kansas, class notes, "What is plagiarism, anyway?"
: Here.

University of Alabama Turnitin discusses careless paraphrasing as "unintentional plagiarism" here

A Chilling Effects log of a cease-and-desist complaint by, which shows what it considers bad faith paraphrase that does not add any original content. Link here. This is a DMCA "safe harbor" take down notice.

Readers will want to read Tim Lee's paper on the DMCA, referenced a few entries down on this blog.

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