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Complex Content Question
deano6410




msg:3346536
 3:36 pm on May 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

I have a question and would love to hear peoples thoughts on the answer.

Let's say that someone goes to the shop and purchases 4 self help books and reads them all, then takes the best parts from each book and puts that info into his/her own words...

Could he/she sell that new information?

My opinion on this is that in most industries the books and ebooks are just the same info being recycled, and in theory we all get our info from other sources, even gurus.

Your thoughts?

 

BigDave




msg:3346642
 5:03 pm on May 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

If they take the information (facts) from those books, then writes a book using that information, it is probably not copyright infringement. In other words, take some notes, then write something based on your notes.

If they *rewrite* the good parts by just changing some things around, then it is most likely infringement.

deano6410




msg:3346822
 7:52 pm on May 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

It would be more a case of taking the general tactics or theory...

So let's say that the book says that doing A & B will help your focus, could you take those principles and re-write them completely?

Syzygy




msg:3347708
 3:42 pm on May 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

If you were to take the key concepts from any sector, give your interpretation of them and also add something new, eg, unique perspectives, ground-breaking thoughts and novel insights, then you would likely have something new.

"Discovery consists of looking at the same thing as everyone else and thinking something different." Albert Szent-Gyorgyi.

Syzygy

jtara




msg:3347770
 4:59 pm on May 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

If the writer isn't an expert in the topic, and isn't a good writer, they aren't likely to produce anything of compelling value.

Unfortunately, yes, this is the way a lot of technical computer books are written today, particularly when they are rushed-out for the release of some new product or product release. Too many "Foo Bible" books are nothing but rehashes of the software publishers manuals.

John_Blake




msg:3348524
 11:07 am on May 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

The line between infringement and, let's say, non-infringement, is very thin and even legal experts sometimes fail to differentiate them clearly. But following the rules of logic, taking out of the context the core ideas and then putting in your own interpretation should not be considered an infringement. However, a simple rewrite, is a potential candidate of infringement.

dragsterboy




msg:3349805
 3:14 pm on May 25, 2007 (gmt 0)

My opinion on this is that in most industries the books and ebooks are just the same info being recycled, and in theory we all get our info from other sources, even gurus.

This is a common practice nowadays. Why am I not surprised to read about that.

Fortune Hunter




msg:3350299
 12:06 am on May 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

There is an old saying that says using one book for your writing is plagiarism, but using two books is research. The point is that if you use multiple sources and synthesize the material into something totally in your own words using the major ideas and themes of what you wrote without using the actual words of the other authors you are probably fine.

I had a copyright attorney tell me that the only thing that a copyright protects is the actual words in a certain order not the ideas they represent.

Webwork




msg:3351221
 6:46 pm on May 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

This, to me, would rather quickly present itself as the voice of a pretender to knowledge and experience. [webmasterworld.com]

The WWW is going through a phase where pretenders to knowledge and experience are popping up like mushrooms, hoping to garner some quick coin before the world catches on. My best guess is that the same mechanisms that might allow someone to spread the word of their elixir will also serve to spread the word that the elixir is a sham.

Save your time. Write about something from your own life and life experience. Chances are it will stand a better chance of success.

[edited by: Webwork at 6:47 pm (utc) on May 27, 2007]

jtara




msg:3351861
 5:31 pm on May 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

Thanks, webwork, for giving it a name:

If the writer isn't an expert in the topic... they aren't likely to produce anything of compelling value.

This, to me, would rather quickly present itself as the voice of a pretender to knowledge and experience.

ronin




msg:3352090
 12:54 am on May 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

My opinion on this is that in most industries the books and ebooks are just the same info being recycled, and in theory we all get our info from other sources, even gurus.

If they take the information (facts) from those books, then writes a book using that information, it is probably not copyright infringement. In other words, take some notes, then write something based on your notes.

Oh dear.

Plagiarism is "not referencing your sources and (thus) pretending that someone else's ideas are your own". It doesn't matter how many or how few sources you used. If you don't reference them, you're a plagiarist.

Now, if you write that the French Revolution began in 1789, that Einstein is responsible for formulating the General Theory of Relativity or that the sun is ninety-three million miles from the Earth, then you're okay: these are established facts. Nobody is going to think that you are claiming you discovered these facts while the rest of the world waited on the edge of their seats.

If you borrow thoughts, ideas, techniques, opinions, commentaries, conclusions, strategies, designs, observations, research, criticisms, evaluations, judgements, anecdotes or examples (or anything else in that vein) then please, if only out of common decency, reference your sources and give credit where it is due.

callivert




msg:3357057
 3:24 am on Jun 3, 2007 (gmt 0)

This is one of those ideas that sounds great in principle, until you explore it a little deeper.

takes the best parts from each book and puts that info into his/her own words

There's the rub. His/her own words. That's your words.
How good are your words? Unless you're going to fraudulently sell someone elses work as your own, you need to look at your own writing and communication ability.
Are you clear? Are you entertaining? How well do you synthesise ideas from multiple sources? How well do you convey what you know?
Furthermore, do you have mastery of the topic?
It seems so simple to just "re-write", but if you don't have mastery of the topic, you can't tell the difference between a paraphrase and a misinterpretation. You don't know what's critical information and what's incidental. Oh, you can make guesses, but that's all they are: guesses.

This is an ethically dubious plan, but that doesn't really matter, because such a plan would almost certainly fail, especially in an already saturated market such as self-help.

Without compelling content, you're selling swampland.
Don't become, in the beautiful words of Webwork,

the voice of a pretender to knowledge and experience.

Fortune Hunter




msg:3357615
 12:51 am on Jun 4, 2007 (gmt 0)

My opinion on this is that in most industries the books and ebooks are just the same info being recycled, and in theory we all get our info from other sources, even gurus

While it is noble for some to take what they believe is the high road and that if you can't come up with entirely brand new ideas and concepts that the world has never seen or heard of before you should not even try and write or develop new stuff. That is a bit unrealistic.

While I certainly would never say copy someone else's material or take one of their original ideas and claim it as your own there is nothing wrong with repeating things others have heard with your own spin on them. There are many out there both in academia and out that will tell you that people often read other author's book or listening to them speak at a seminar not to hear a never before discovered idea, BUT to be re-assured that material they have read before or heard before is valid. They get this validation by listening to someone else repeat it or write about it.

In addition, taking others ideas and writings and re-arranging those ideas into new combinations and uses plus adding your own life experiences and wisdom and writing or presenting this information to others also creates and adds value for others. There have been many times I have taken ideas and thoughts from 3 or 4 different people and put them together into new combinations and information. I have never ever copied their work, but have used it to build new bridges to new ideas and thoughts. This is called advancement not plagiarism.

It would be a wonderful world indeed if everyone could only create perfectly original ideas that nobody has ever seen and constantly unleash them on mankind for our benefit, but that is not reality. I just think it is unfair to say that if someone improves or creates new uses for an already established idea that they have not "created" anything and are simply recycling old material.

Fortune Hunter

callivert




msg:3357631
 1:30 am on Jun 4, 2007 (gmt 0)

there is nothing wrong with repeating things others have heard with your own spin on them.

I agree. The thrust of my previous post was that this is easier said than done.

ronin




msg:3358051
 3:18 pm on Jun 4, 2007 (gmt 0)

It would be a wonderful world indeed if everyone could only create perfectly original ideas that nobody has ever seen

Yes, as you say, totally unrealistic. Nobody ever advocates doing this. Just give credit where credit is due.

That way you can claim full credit for your spin.

If nobody knows what's yours and what's someone else's then for all anyone knows you might have rehashed the lot of it and the spin isn't yours either.

I have taken ideas and thoughts from 3 or 4 different people and put them together into new combinations and information. I have never ever copied their work

You didn't copy their work if you wrote:

Person A said this.
Person B said this.
Person C had a different angle on Person A's method.
Here's my spin on how to put the same twist on Person B's method.

But if you didn't give credit where it was due, then, yes, you copied.
Moving words and phrases around, doesn't mean you haven't copied. We're not in 2nd grade now.

Fortune Hunter




msg:3358632
 1:47 am on Jun 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

Person A said this.
Person B said this.
Person C had a different angle on Person A's method.
Here's my spin on how to put the same twist on Person B's method.

With the world awash in plagiarized content how pray tell would you know if person A is really the person that developed the idea? What if they simply took it from someone else? Might get a bit difficult tracking down the original owner of said content.

Moving words and phrases around, doesn't mean you haven't copied. We're not in 2nd grade now.

Not sure that even warrants a response since anyone with a reading level higher than the 2nd grade could see that was not what I was saying at all.

callivert




msg:3358743
 5:08 am on Jun 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

With the world awash in plagiarized content how pray tell would you know if person A is really the person that developed the idea? What if they simply took it from someone else?

That sounds like a rationalization for taking other people's content. If you burgle a house, don't take solace in the thought that the people that live there might be thieves.

Beagle




msg:3359470
 9:35 pm on Jun 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

With the world awash in plagiarized content how pray tell would you know if person A is really the person that developed the idea? What if they simply took it from someone else? Might get a bit difficult tracking down the original owner of said content.

One more reason to cite your sources. All you're saying is, "A stated that..." which is true. Now, if A took the work from Z and Z happens to read your article, Z knows who to blame - and it's not you.

I just think it is unfair to say that if someone improves or creates new uses for an already established idea that they have not "created" anything and are simply recycling old material.

I would never say that, but that doesn't prevent me from giving credit to what started my own thought process. In almost every case, showing where I started from makes my new perspective/analysis/spin all the clearer. And if I can start by referring to someone or something that my readers consider authoritative, I don't have to re-lay all that groundwork but can just get on to my own advancement of the idea.

From Isaac Newton: "If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants," and there's nothing wrong with acknowledging it.

[edited by: Beagle at 9:50 pm (utc) on June 5, 2007]

callivert




msg:3359596
 1:21 am on Jun 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

You lose nothing by citing sources. People are not less impressed or anything. Somehow it just doesn't work that way.
Hell, over at aldaily.com, you'll find long scholarly articles that are just someone's thoughts after reading a single book!

Grandmas Cookies




msg:3360037
 1:32 pm on Jun 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

There's nothing new under the sun! :) Everything new is a well forgotten old thing.

callivert




msg:3360154
 3:00 pm on Jun 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

I just had an idea.
You're combining ideas from four different books, right?
Why not make that the selling point of the book?
Your sales blurb:
"I was in search of answers, so I read as much as I could. I read four of the most respected self-help books out there, and formed my own ideas. In one sense, these ideas are just a mishmash of things I've read by other people. In another sense, they're entirely my own. Let me tell you what I've read, and what I've learned."

Clark Peters




msg:3368958
 7:29 pm on Jun 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

Obvious copy of many words and large percent of a source is plagiarism. But there is still no general rule in terms of word sequence length or word percent. That is why users of any synonymizer script or program can defeat Copyscape and other plagiarism detectors.

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