Writing Books/Getting author's permission, plagarism
Hello, Ms. Muster.
I am planning on writing a book (actually, more like an "e-book" or an online version of a book) on the health and healing aspects of martial arts. As such, I will be adding some original content, but I also plan on using other sources (namely other books and magazines) for content.
My question is, if I borrow content from other books and magazines and in my book I explain where and who I got the information from but I didn't get the author's permission directly (I didn't talk to the original author or e-mail him directly for his permission), is that still considered plagarism? Is just documenting where I got the information enough, or do I also have to get the author's permission directly?
Thank you for your question. A book on the healing aspects of martial arts sounds like a good idea. You can use quotations from any source and as long as they are attributed, you're fine. However, if you use longer passages, more than about three paragraphs, then you need to get permission. That is, unless the material is in the public domain. Usually, anything more than 100 years old is in the public domain. Lots of websites post whole stories, whole books, of Mark Twain, for example, and that's fine.
One way to get around it would be to link to the information you want to quote. If it's posted at the author's site, then your readers can have the advantage of reading it through your links.
Also, getting permission may be easier than you think. For example, I have posted lots of academic papers and things I've written. Then sometimes another web master with a site similar to mine asks if he can post my paper. Often I will say yes, as long as there's no copyright conflict, my name is clearly mentioned as the author, and they agree to link to my site.
Another thing you could do is summarize the other material in your own words and give full attribution to the source. Just don't summarize someone else's material and make it look like you wrote it.
I hope this helps.
Dear Ms. Muster:
First off, I would like to thank you for taking the time to answer my question. You really helped me better understand how and when to get the author's permission. The one question I did have as I read your response is, you mentioned that you would allow someone to post your paper in their site as long as there is no "copyright conflict". What is "copyright conflict"?
Recently I had one paper published in a book and another paper published in an academic journal. I didn't want the other web master to post these papers at his site, since I already granted publishing rights to those other publishers. I didn't sign any contracts granting exclusive rights, but for now I'd rather not publish them elsewhere.
After talking to you, I sent that web master the URLs where I posted the papers, so he can link to them if he wants.
Best to you,
P.S. Here's a page for my writing:
The papers in question are "Life as a Woman on Watseka Avenue" and "Authoritarian Culture and Child Abuse in ISKCON."