Intellectual Freedom and Censorship Issues
Lesson 7

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Authorship and Plagiarism

An author's creative/intellectual effort represents a significant investment of time, energy, money, and thought. Sometimes ideas take years to germinate. Ideas take time to research and develop fully--regardless of whether they lead to scientific experimentation, research in a library, or creative works like novels and music.

If you use any of someone else's work or ideas and present it as your own, you have committed plagiarism.


When you perform research for the purposes of writing a paper or creating a presentation, you are intentionally looking at the work that other people have done in order to learn from it and build on it. You are doing what you should do. But when you use any of that work and fail to cite the source, you are misrepresenting that work as your own.

When you do your own research, it is important that you have a sense of responsibility and respect for the rights of others.

"Plagiarism is the representation of thoughts or passages
from another author as one's own work . . . Such dishonesty renders a student subject to disciplinary action, including possible dismissal." (Spring Hill College Bulletin of Information, 1999-2001)

Many authors derive their income from the publication and sale of their ideas--whether it be in a book or journal, CD, video, or on a computer screen. These ideas are called intellectual property. Publishers and authors are naturally sensitive to how other people use their ideas. Using them without permission is like using a car that belongs to someone else without their knowledge or permission. U.S. and international law protects the rights of authors and publishers.

The next section will discuss copyright and "fair use," the U.S. law that allows limited reproduction of copyrighted works for educational and research purposes.

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