Question concerning the posting of an article

Suppose someone copies and pastes a complete article that was originally posted on the authors website or by the author on some other website. Is it enough to simply give credit for the article by giving the authors name – IE: “by Joe Schmoe”? Or is it necessary to provide a link to the website where the article was copied from?

I realize this is somewhat of a “legal” question, but I honestly have no real idea what the answer is. If someone has a link to a site that spells out all the ramifications one way or the other, that would be extremely appreciated.


Either way copying a complete article is a copyright violation. There is no right or legal method to do it. Nor is there any correct moral or ethical procedure. That’s why you are not allowed to post complete articles here on the Dope and the mods will remove them as soon as you do.

In general, it is preferable to give a cite which provides the reader with the opportunity to find out more if they want to. So simply providing the author’s name is better than not providing the author’s name, but telling us which publication or website the material first appeared, approximate date, and other information is also nice.

That said, don’t quote the whole article, quote a paragraph or two, maybe even less, and provide a link. It’s ok, for that matter, to refer to a print publication rather than one which is online, in which case, again, tell us where you found the article, so that if we want to, we can find the original as well. OK, some print publications are sufficiently obscure that we can’t actually find it, but it tells us something important when you provide the information so that we know that the quote you are providing comes from a rare print source vs. the latest piece of spam to wind up in your in-box.

I haven’t noticed it recently, but there is - or used to be - a phrase put at the front of many books, saying that it was only permissible to quote brief (i.e., a few sentences) portions of it, and that only for purposes of reviewing it, or some such. With an author who is zealous about his/her copyright, you can get in big legal trouble for quoting a large portion of something they’ve written, unless they’ve indicated something different under “fair use”.

I can think of a couple of fiction authors who have attorneys on retainer for the explicit purpose of going after people who quote anything more than a brief passage from their works. You won’t see fanfic online based on their characters - or at least not for very long - because as soon as they learn about it, there’s a lawsuit.

Not only isn’t it legal, it ain’t safe (from a financial perspective) to quote someone else’s writing without permission, even with attribution. Most authors live on the proceeds of their writing. It’s their job, IOW. And if you steal some of their work, you’re stealing money, as far as they’re concerned, and a great many of them will go after you, big time.

There is a new kind of semi-copyright. I can’t recall the exact name for it, but it gives certain broader rights for use of the work. But anything that has that limited protection will be clearly marked as such.

As for how it’s different on the web, have you forgotten the Hollywood writers strike? The whole thing was about how much they got paid for stuff they wrote that studios put online. Think about it: Can you blame them? Would you like someone to rip off some of your paycheck?

Eureka mentioned “rare stuff”. That would be things that are “Out Of Print”. More and more stuff that’s OOP is now in Google’s library, and there are several sites that have texts that are so old they’re out of copyright, or were written before there were copyright laws (e.g., the Gutenberg site). You’re probably safe enough quoting any of those, so long as you attribute it (it’s plagiarism otherwise; that’s what killed Joe Biden’s first run for president). But it is better - and it’s SOP for anybody who ever paid attention in HS English classes - to give a citation (to tell who it’s by and where it’s found). It will help you keep from looking ignorant, too. :slight_smile: