[sword-devel] Copyrights and derivative works

Chris Little sword-devel@crosswire.org
Sat, 18 Jan 2003 17:16:40 -0700 (MST)

On Sat, 18 Jan 2003, David's Mailing List and Spam Receiver wrote:

> On Saturday 18 January 2003 04:28 pm, Chris Little wrote:
> > It's essentially because you're enjoying fruits of another's
> > creativity rather than making something up yourself (or enjoying the
> > fruits of the creativity of someone long dead).

I probably should not have written this line since it is so easily
misconstrued.  The importance lies in how directly you use another's work.  
If you write a novel inspired by Tolkien and set in his world (i.e. fan
fiction), that is not copyright infringement.  (You would probably be
violating trademarks, but that's a different set of laws entirely.)  If 
you re-write or develop or depict in graphic form or make three movies 
about events described in his work, that's copyright infringement by 
virtue of producing an unauthorized derivative work.

> So basically it's like, if I write a paper and do research and use ideas
> I found in a book and I don't cite the original work that's plagiarism
> even if I write the idea in my own words. Right? And on that note. I
> read quite a bit of stuff and bits and pieces of stuff I read, see,
> hear, etc. gets integrated into my way of thinking and eventually I
> forget where I got the information from. Do I have to spend time
> researching to find the source and cite it or can I just use it in a
> work? And say I learn something in a class lecture in college. Do I need
> to site the professor I learned it from?

Plagiarism is just an ethical taboo.  It has no bearing on copyright or on
Sword.  Common knowledge (incl. common knowledge within the domain of a
work) aren't generally in need of citation.  The purpose of citation
(except maybe in lower level studies, where it's enforced to teach you to
cite for later on) is to tell people where they can find those ideas you
didn't come up with or that evidence which you cite as support for your
claims.  It's so you can't just make things up and claim they're
truth--you generally either need to prove them yourself or reference
someone else who does.