On copying from other sources; Curation, mash-ups and fair use

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On copying from other sources; Curation, mash-ups and fair use

August 13, 2017 - 13:52

Guidelines on how to rely heavily on outside sources without copyright infringements.

Frequently we find ourselves where we we need or want to use outside material more or less 'as is'.

Perhaps we don't have enough time to research and rewrite all from scratch, perhaps it is just meaningless to do and better to refer to outside sources.

What we cannot do is outright copy other's material. It is both bad journalistic form and possibly copyright infringement. The only exception is reposting press releases.

There is, however, a couple of ways around doing this easy and fast:

'Fair use' (see below) gives the press right to some extent to reuse other people's material provided it is in the form of quotes or references and the copied pieces are not a substantial part of the original.

House rules

  • Use max 1/3 of outside articles. unless it is a press release
  • Use paraphrasing, quoting and referencing as extensively as possible.

Fair use

(Excerpt from ) Fair use is a doctrine originating in the law of the United States that permits limited use of copyrighted material without having to first acquire permission from the copyright holder.

Fair use is one of the limitations to copyright intended to balance the interests of copyright holders with the public interest in the wider distribution and use of creative works by allowing certain limited uses that might otherwise be considered infringement.

United States

Examples of fair use in United States copyright law include commentary, search engines, criticism, parody, news reporting, research, and scholarship. Fair use provides for the legal, unlicensed citation or incorporation of copyrighted material in another author's work under a four-factor test.

United Kingdom

Fair dealing for criticism, review or quotation is allowed for any type of copyright work. Fair dealing with a work for the purpose of reporting current events is allowed for any type of copyright work other than a photograph. In each of these cases, a sufficient acknowledgement will be required.

As stated, a photograph cannot be reproduced for the purpose of reporting current events. The intention of the law is to prevent newspapers or magazines reproducing photographs for reporting current events which have appeared in competitor’s publications.

Paraphrasing sources

Assume you've researched the matter at hand (say Googled about a bit) and found a number of authorative and well written sources.

Say, for example BBC, Reuters and the original source in some Scientic Journal "ABC"

Let's also assume that you found a couple of good sentences or eloquent expressions in each of these sources you would like to use.

You may then word-smith these snippets together by quoting the sources down the following lines:


 "Bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla, " Mr./Ms Jones told BBC News,

Monday night Reuters reported that  "Bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla ",

In Science Jourcal ABC the researchers decribed how they "  Bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla

What we can conclude is  Bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla Bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla" bla bla bla blabla bla bla blabla bla bla bla "

( and so forth )

Remember to list the souces quoted (done under the '3. Sources and references' tab)

Using images

Often but not always the original source has released images to the press in general. In such cases it is fairly safe to reuse them even without specific individual permissions. Alternatively there is a huge repository of public domain images on Wikipedia and the US federal agencies such as NOAA.

Finding images

CC search

With CC Search you can find public domain images on the web:
Note: While the results displayed in this search portal should be under a CC license you should always verify that the work is actually under a CC license by following the link.

PixaBay

Images free for commercial use with no attribution required can be downloaded from

US Government sources

Images provided by US Government institutions and employees are generally in Public Domain ( they have been paid for by the tax payer ). NOAA, NASA and US Geological Survey are good sources. Note that some images on their websites have been provided to these institutions and they are not in public domain.

Sources and references

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