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Content, Writing and Copyright Forum

Legal use of quotes

 8:18 pm on May 31, 2006 (gmt 0)

Lets say that someone writes an outstanding review of a product and the review agrees with my opinions of the product. Can I disect that review and place it onto one of my articles as quotes?

lets say the reviewer is called Joe:

I believe that Joe from #*$!xxx is spot on when he says:

"4 paragraphs of quotes"

He also points out that

"Loads more of Joes text"

What if Joe was against me doing this, can people use quotes freely or do we need permission?



 12:01 am on Jun 1, 2006 (gmt 0)

One of the fairly common tests for plagiarism (versus "fair use") is the amount used. If you take most or all of the other guy's work, even putting it in quotes, you've still used too much for it generally to be regarded as "fair use".

Another test is the "transformative" nature of the use. If you take the other guy's review and post it as, well, a review, you haven't "transformed" the content at all.

In any case, if you have used the product and have your own opinion, why can't you write your own review? You can still link to the other guy's work, or say something like "Joe Blow agrees, giving Widget X four stars!" You don't have to plagiarise Joe's work.



 7:26 pm on Jun 1, 2006 (gmt 0)

If Joe used a great turn of phrase that you want to have in your review, make it a direct quote and credit Joe. But 4 paragraphs of text (as in your example) is going overboard. Long before you reached 4 paragraphs, you'd be at the stage where you'd be better off simply linking to Joe's review. Think in terms of a phrase or two (ones that are so good you want to credit the source), not in terms of paragraphs.


 2:51 am on Jun 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

An attorney once gave me a rule of thumb that basically was if you quote so much the reader has little need to visit the original, you're pushing the limits of fair use.

I try to follow the Golden Rule. If Joe wrote something on his site, I'll give Joe proper credit with a link and maybe Joe can profit from someone visiting his site & buying something, clicking an ad, etc. Hopefully, Joe will do the same for someone else and that someone else might do the same for me. Like I said - the Golden Rule.

I see a lot of the better bloggers quoting things and including a hat tip (link) to another blogger to give credit to the other blogger who found the information first.



 11:11 am on Jun 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

There is a Crash Course on Copyright [utsystem.edu] to be found at the University of Texas. It includes a section on use Fair Use and provides a Four Factor Fair Use Test. Whilst the resource is aimed at the educational sector it is very much worth exploring.



 11:36 am on Jun 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

Even if the original guy agreed, you would still have the problem of duplicate content.
Your page, or his page, or both could suffer penalties, go 'supplemental', derated in serps etc.

I think the other advice given above is excellent. -Larry


 2:36 pm on Jun 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

Even if the original guy agreed, you would still have the problem of duplicate content.

I've always wondered how much of the duplicate content penalty issue is a myth vs. reality. Think, for example, of an AP news story and how many times it is repeated in online newspapers, blogs, etc. Do they all suffer a penalty? Oh, well, I guess that's a question for another board.


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