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Named to "Writer's Digest 101 Best Websites," this #SharingwithWriters blog is a way to connect with my readers and fellow writers, a way to give the teaching genes that populate my DNA free rein. Please feel free to add to the conversation using the very tiny "comment" link. For those interested in editing and grammar, go to http://thefrugaleditor.blogspot.com.

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Monday, December 31, 2012

Fair Use: Don't get caught plagiarizing unintentionally!

It can happen that you plagiarize unintentionally if you don't have a rudimentary understanding of the term "fair use."
I think I get more questions about copyright than anything else, and I'm not a lawyer. But fair use is something I can help you with.  Just don't consider it advice, OK? (-:
 "Fair Use" may have to be determined by a court but they consider
1. Whether material was used for a commercial, nonprofit, or educational purpose;
2. How much of the work was used (the percentage used compared to the size of the work as a whole);
3. How its use affected the value of the copyrighted work; 4. The nature (genre, etc) of the copyrighted work that was used.
Number 3 is extremely important. If a person cannot show that they were materially or monetarily damaged by the material used, many lawyers advise they not sue because legal costs will outstrip a settlement—if any—received as a result of the suit.

Sometimes you hear "fair use" in a blanket permission or agreed upon guideline for use of part of the work. Some online bookstores, as an example, suggest quotes in reviews should be credited and no more than 25 words, but obviously that doesn't take into consideration all the legal guidelines for fair use. If someone quoted 25 words of a haiku, that might not be seen as "fair use" at all. In fact, you'd probably have quoted the whole poem.


Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of This Is the Place; Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered; Tracings, a chapbook of poetry; and how to books for writers including the award-winning second edition of, The Frugal Book Promoter: How to get nearly free publicity on your own or by partnering with your publisher; The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success; and Great Little Last Minute Editing Tips for Writers . The Great First Impression Book Proposal is her newest booklet for writers. She has three FRUGAL books for retailers including A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. Some of her other blogs are TheNewBookReview.blogspot.com, a blog where authors can recycle their favorite reviews. She also blogs at all things editing, grammar, formatting and more at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor .