Cutting and pasting from sources

I read people round these parts don’t take kindly to c+ping copyrighted materials, such as news articles. How does this work, what are the general rules about it?

Obviously I am not an official here :wink: However, this is what I have understood in the past.

Say the article is 200 words, there’s one little part (say a sentence or two) that gets your point across, you can quote that but you also must link to the article and add any copyright information if asked by the site owner or article.

I could be wrong but that has been my interpretation.

  1. Always include the link that shows where you got the quote. Just Copy and Paste the URL from the address window; vBulletin will automatically make it into a link.

  2. The general rule of thumb is to quote as little as you need to get your point across. It’s a real gray area. If it’s something like a CNN article, you want to avoid quoting basically the entire article. Just put in a paragraph, maybe two, if they’re small.

If it’s something from a scholarly journal, like a research paper, just quote the relevant paragraph, or a part of it–you want to avoid ENORMOUS unnecessary chunks of dense prose in your post if the point you’re making can be gotten across with only a sentence or two from the paragraph.

If you’re in the awkward situation of finding an article on the Web that says exactly what you wanted to say, only better, the best thing to do is to provide a link, and just quote the first sentence and say something like, “This article here says it much better than I ever could, ya’ll please go read it.”

If it’s a work of fiction that you need to make your point, just quote a single (short) paragraph.

The only time I can think of off-hand when there appears to be a need to quote huge chunks of something in a single post is when you’re dealing with scientific-type questions, especially in GQ, when the link that you just found answers the question perfectly–it’s just that it requires 6 humongous paragraphs of tech-speak to do so. Somebody wants to know, “Why do Zarquon frannistan calibrations always have to have their values for pi set at Null-42?” and you find something from the Journal of Zarquon Frannistan Research and Development that answers the question, but because you don’t get it yourself, there’s just no way for you to summarize it and provide a link. In that case, quote just the first paragraph (or first few lines, if the paragraphs are the size of Gone With The Wind), and say, “The entire explanation is here. I don’t get it myself, but it would appear to have something to do with peanut butter.”

  1. Last but not least–don’t get all pissy and hurt if a mod comes in and edits your post to take out some of the excess. Think of it this way–they’re actually doing you a favor by providing free liposuction service. Hey, people have to pay big money for that in some parts of the world! :smiley: So, please, spare us the seemingly inevitable “mod is a poopyhead!” Pit thread, okay? :smiley:

Internet message boards do sometimes get in trouble with publishers, authors, etc. for quoting large chunks of copyrighted material without permission. And sometimes the shoe is on the other foot–Cecil’s columns have been occasionally reprinted and quoted and posted without his permission, necessitating a visit from Mr. Zotti, who despite his Italian-sounding patronymic, is not affiliated with the Mafia. At all.

He’s in the importing business, okay?


Another question regarding copyrights:

You know all those MPSIMS threads where someone starts with “On a dark desert highway…” and next poster comes along to add “cool wind in my hair…”

What’s the copyright deal with that? In the end, the whole song gets reprinted, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen one with an actual reference to the Eagles (or Don McLean, or whoever wrote whichever song is being “sang”). Is there an exception for this kind of situation? What if I was to start a “To be or not to be”[sup]1[/sup] thread, or “Once upon a midnight dreary…”?[sup]2[/sup] What is considered ok for those situations? Is it different for poetry than for kitchy American songs that everybody should know by heart by now?

[sub][sub] 1. Shakespeare’s Hamlet and 2. Poe’s The Raven, of course![/sub][/sub]

Those threads tend to be rare and silly and it would take a real nitpicker to want to scream copyright violation at us.

And a lot of that stuff (not the Eagles, okay, I know that) tends to be in the public domain anyway.

It’s just not a big factor in this argument.

While we’re on the subject . . .

Common sense should tell you we don’t need people reproducing material that shouldn’t be copied in toto on this site or anywhere else.

Oddly enough, some folks have no problem copying the ENTIRE FREAKING ARTICLE but leave out the little bit at the end that says “Copyright The Fnordville Tribune” or whatever the rights statement is. Often the statement also contains language such as “. . . may not be reproduced, republished, retransmitted or redistributed without prior written permission.” That gets left out as well.

It’s also inconsiderate to quote an entire article if your point was proven in a paragraph or a line. Why should the rest of us have to run through a ton of stuff when only a little bit was necessary?

Also a waste of bandwidth, which should always be used responsibly, on this site and elsewhere.

Hope this makes our policy clear.

your humble TubaDiva