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"Idea" Plagiarism

Can someone else's ideas be plagiarized?

6:20 am on Oct 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Hi Everybody. I am totally new to this game- I have been wanting to do a website for a long time, and now I finally have. My site is a "blog" about environmental issues. The uniqueness of my blog is that I won't accept any fear mongering from either side of environmental issues, and though I do post my own opinions, I also publish other people's articles that disagree with my op-eds. It's a forum with decorum, ha ha.

Anyway, I spend every day reading hundreds of RSS feeds from environmental blogs and news, and write almost all my content myself. I read all the info to keep my site up-to-date, relevant, and to try not to have my daily feature article be the same as every other blog.

Inevitably, I get content ideas from other articles that I read. I never copy any of their writing, but I am concerned about idea plagiarizing. Should I be referencing every site that gives me ideas? I always reference main news sites, but usually don't reference other blogs on the same topic. Help anyone?
7:43 am on Oct 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I guess it depends on the novelty factor. If it's very original, yes, be a good citizen and pay your tributes. Wouldn't you want the same treatment? But if it's a general idea that's been floating around and you can't pinpoint a source, then there is no need to find and link the source.
7:45 am on Oct 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Hello and welcome Maureen.

You could say that what you are doing is studying your subject and if that is the case then you don't need to reference anything unless you are quoting it and as long as you are not claiming any of these ideas as your own.

9:25 am on Oct 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

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What you are referring to is often called "Hot News" misappropriation.

It is a very controversial topic and there are several very high profile lawsuits pending that use this legal theory.

A Google search on the topic would be your first step.
2:13 pm on Oct 22, 2010 (gmt 0)

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You can't copyright an idea, so you can't violate someone's copyright on that score. And I doubt there is a lot of hot news in the environmental scene (which I follow myself), so I am not sure if that issue applies.

You have to put yourself in the position of the reader to determine whether a link is worth putting in or not. Would the linked text flesh out something you only refer to? Does it give a different slant? Etc.
4:53 pm on Nov 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Welcome to WebmasterWorld

It depends. Sometimes you will get inspiration from other places but the idea is yours. Other times things might be very alike and would appear as you copied the idea.

Anyway consider the reader perspective where your content would be perhaps "related" to other links. Sometimes one can found a great source of info and at the end NOT the credits (because they are not credits) but links to related info, that's useful from the reader perspective.

Also, it's been mentioned here a few times that links to other sources of info might help. I'm not so sure about it but it was mentioned that a site with no links out is suspicious. Good luck.
3:14 pm on Dec 21, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Plato wrote "there are no new ideas," but he probably ripped it off.

Seriously, Maureen, welcome to the blogosphere. I've been a novelist for about 40 years, and you're getting good advice here. Words can be copyrighted, but not ideas. What makes your writing unique is your personal "spin" on those ideas and the way you choose to express them.

I like to acknowledge sources that have given me a lot of brain food, but that's just me being a nice guy or at least faking it.