3.2. How do I use the information chosen?
3.2.2. Plagiarism and literal copy of contents
The Oxford English Dictionar defines plagiarism as:
“According to the Oxford English Dictionary, to plagiarise is to «take the work or an idea (thoughts, writings, inventions) of someone else and pass it off as one’s own».”
Therefore, literally copying contents or else using contents without mentioning where they come from, their source or their authors involves not complying with the regulations on intellectual property and copyright regulations.
Intellectual property is the legal framework that protects authors’ interests and the Spanish Criminal Code includes sanctions for infringement (crime) of this law and of the rights of authors. You can consult the full text about Spanish Property Law: https://www.boe.es/eli/es/l/2019/03/01/2.
A large amount of information and contents flow freely and publicly through the Internet, so that everybody may have access to them. Nevertheless, this does not mean we may freely use this content. If we take an original picture and upload it to Flickr, for instance, we automatically become the owners and authors of the picture, and nobody can use it, modify it or distribute it without our previous consent.
Ignorance of the concept of plagiarism or of the intellectual property laws may even be a crime in an unconscious, non-intentional manner. Besides, having an open access to all sorts of information and resources on the Internet may mislead the user, given that he/she understands he/she may freely use all that is available.
Therefore, one of the basic assumptions when using an Internet resource is the fact that, unless otherwise specified, the resource authorship is protected and we are not allowed to reuse the content without previously obtaining permission to do so, or else without mentioning where it comes from.
The following cases are examples of plagiarism:
- If we use a picture we found on the Internet for our website. Also when using sentences or expressions by an author (a blog post also has an author, even if not specified) without acknowledgement or permission.
- If we copy and/or reuse images, audio files, videos, text documents, etc. that are protected by copyright.
- When we do not quote or cite properly.
- If we do not include inverted commas in the exact quotes by another author.
In summary, when we use ideas or other resources we found without mentioning where we found them, it is assumed that we imply we are the authors of that information, and therefore we are plagiarizing.
Acts or ideas considered to belong to the general, public pool of knowledge in a given field, such as Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, may not be considered plagiarism. Obviously enough, using our own content or ideas may not be considered plagiarism either.