in Philosophy

Plagiarism and Copyright

As the drama surrounding the release of ‘Expelled‘ continues to unfold, there seems to be a lot of confusion around the difference between Plagiarism and Copyright violations.

A copyright violation is when you take the copyrighted work of someone else and use it in a way that they have not given permission for. Want to video tape an NFL game and show a portion in a classroom? That’s a copyright violation. Want to copy a DVD and give it to a friend? Technically, that’s a copyright violation. IANAL, so the subtleties of copyright continue to elude me, but that’s the basics.

Plagiarism is where you take the work of someone else and claim it as your own. If you take a photograph off of flickr that has been released under a certain creative commons license and you claim it as your own, that is not a copyright violation. It is plagiarism. If you take a copy of my .NET Geotagging library and claim you have written it, that’s not a copyright violation, since I released it to the public domain. It is plagiarism.

Taking a video, recreating it without the authors permission, and claiming it as your own? That is both a copyright violation and plagiarism. You fail.

P.S.  This great explanation has been posted over at ERV in the comments:

What the fuck is the matter with those people???

It’s beginning to look like some of them think that this is what scientists actually do all day. They muck about a bit, copy each other’s work, and ad lib their own bullshit on top. More cargo cult science. “Waah, why isn’t it working for us?” I don’t know how they are missing the parts where we collect new data and do experiments.

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