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Citation and Copyright  

Information on plagiarism, citation management software, copyright, fair use, creative commons
Last Updated: Feb 27, 2014 URL: http://libguides.brown.edu/citations Print Guide RSS Updates

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Get Help!

Need help with citations, or with EndNote, Mendeley, RefWorks or Zotero?  We can help!  Email us at Citation-Help-Group@brown.edu

 

How do I create a bibliography?

Brown supports a number of citation tools: RefWorks, EndNote, Mendeley and Zotero.

These citation management tools are fantastic helpers to store, organize and present a database of the material you collect while you are doing research. These tools also can plug into your word processor and format footnotes, endnotes, and bibliographies. Each has its own benefits, and you need to decide which one works best for you.

 

Citations and Bibliographies

Citations provide information about a resource, which allows researchers to find the original material if they choose to access it. There are many different citation styles which reflect different interests and preferences of disciplines and often publications. If you are unsure which citation style to use, it is best to ask the person you are writing for, such as a professor or journal editor.

 

Why Should I Cite?

Author:

  • Provides information for the author to go back and find the sources during the writing process.
  • Keeps a record of all of the information you used or considered.
  • Helps provide context to your argument in a larger discussion.

Researcher:

  • Provides information to the researcher so he/she can better understand the author’s argument and the research.
  • Provides information for the researcher to be able to find other relevant sources by going to the bibliography or references page.
 

Examples of APA and MLA

For examples of APA and MLA citation styles, visit Purdue's OWL (Online Writing Lab) site

 

Rules for Using Information

So you found this great image or video and you want to use it in your research paper or creative project. How do you figure out if you can use it? Here are some common questions and their solution(s):

 

Can I use this idea from a book or article in my paper?

Yes - just make sure the cite the source properly in your paper. This means a direct quotation or paraphrase and an internal citation. Then you would include the full citation in the references, bibliography or works cited page. One great resource for help with citing is the Purdue Owl website.

 

Can I use this song on my website? On my video for a course assignment?

Potentially. It depends on the song. A copyrighted song you would have to get permission from the artist or owner. If that isn’t possible there are thousands of songs under Creative Commons licensing. Just do a search through their website.

 

Can I use this image in my paper?

More often than not. Again the circumstances are important. If you are citing and discussing an image critically, often a proper citation will be fine for a course paper. If you are writing to publish the paper then you usually have to receive permission from artist/owner of the work. Another situation where you would have to receive permission is if you want to alter or build upon the work. All this is not applicable if the image is in the public domain or if the creator has waived copyright or licensed the image under a Creative Commons license.

For more information about image use and copyright please see the guide to Finding and Using Images.

 

Can I use this YouTube video for my project?

Depends on the project. If you want to use the video for a course presentation or paper just make sure the credit the creator of the video. If your project is a video project, you will probably need permission from the creator in order to use parts or all of the work. If your project takes the form of a website, you can link the original video or use the embed code from the video (if provided) and the video will be hosted through a site like YouTube, but be embedded in your website.

 

Plagiarism

Essentially plagiarism is the the lack of attributing intellectual ideas and creative works to their creator. We can criticize, comment, report, build upon and teach using ideas of others, but we need to ensure that we are crediting the author or creator properly. This way, when other people go to use our intellectual work they can credit us as well and trace back to the intellectual works and ideas we found interesting and helpful.

According to the Council of Writing Program Administrators, an understanding as a user of information entails:

  • Assembling and analyzing a set of sources that you have determined are relevant to the issues you are investigating;
  • Acknowledging clearly when and how you are drawing on the ideas or phrasings of others;
  • Learning the conventions for citing documents and acknowledging sources appropriate to the field you are studying;
  • Consulting your instructors when you are unsure about how to acknowledge the contributions of others to your thought and writing.

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs-NonCommercial License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd-nc/1.0

 

Copyright

Here in the United States we value intellectual innovations and want to honor the individuals for their creative achievements. We want them to receive credit for their work and to make important decisions about how their work will be displayed, copied and used. That’s why we have something called copyright and as artists, writers, programmers, entrepreneurs and researchers this entity makes it possible to uphold the value we have in ideas.

As soon as an intellectual work (on screen an idea in fixed tangible form) is created it is protected by copyright. No need to request or register which makes it very easy.

When a work is created, there is a defined amount of time for the work to be protected by copyright. The current guidelines have been in existence since 1978 and there are a few variations on works published before that year. Check out the table for a brief outline of copyright guidelines. Take note that works created before 1923 are in the “public domain” which means they are free for anyone to use without copyright restrictions.

Copyright Duration Guidelines (US)

Date of Work Protected when... Duration
Created on or after
January 1, 1978
the intellectual work is put into a fixed, tangible form Life of the creator + 70 years (if collaborative authorship, the life of the creator who lives the longest is used)
Created from 1923 - 1978 published Protected for 95 years
Created before 1923 copyright is expired In public domain

 

Creative Commons

Creative Commons is a way for you to share your ideas and creative work with the rest of the world, while also making decisions about how you want your intellectual work to be credited to you.

 

Fair Use

Fair use is a copyright principle that allows users of information to be able to use intellectual property while still enabling the creator to be able to own and profit from their work.  If you are using an intellectual work for any of these reasons then you are more than likely falling under the fair use principle of copyright.

These reasons include: criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship and research.

What counts as “fair use” of something depends on these four main factors:

1) The Purpose and Character of Use: How have you used the work? Have you transformed the original work by adding new expression or meaning?


2) The Nature of the Copyrighted Work: Is the work factual in nature or creative? Is it unpublished or published? Different factors about the original work will have an effect on fair use.

3) The Amount and Substantiality of the Portion Used: How much of the original work are you quoting, summarizing or using? (Quoting three lines of a six line poem is different than quoting three line from a five minute song). And, of the portion that you are using - how much of the “substantial” idea of the work are you using?

4) The Effect of the Use on the Original Work in the Market: Does the way you use the work deprive the copyright owner of income? Or does it undermine a new or potential market for the original work?


For more information on fair use check out Stanford University's guide to Fair Use.

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