Legality of Re-writing

84 replies
If I take an article, run it through a spinner so the words are different but the meaning is essentially exactly the same. Have I committed copyright theft?

How much do I need to change for it to be legal? How is this measured?
#legality #rewriting
  • Profile picture of the author LB
    Yes, you've created an unauthorized derivative work which is copyright infringement.
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    • Profile picture of the author GuerrillaIM
      Originally Posted by LB View Post

      Yes, you've created an unauthorized derivative work which is copyright infringement.
      Thanks, that answers first question. How much does it need to be changed to not be theft and how is it measured?
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  • Profile picture of the author Underground SEO
    I know many people are worried about this and I write my own articles and spin them. However, I don't honestly think someone who has written an article is going to hunt around the web looking for people who have copied them and then sue them over an article that they probably got outsourced for a few dollars. I wouldn't worry about if I was you, I know it doesn't make it right, but people are probably doing the same thing to you.
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    • Profile picture of the author Nigel Greaves
      Originally Posted by fryerben View Post

      I don't honestly think someone who has written an article is going to hunt around the web looking for people who have copied them
      You'll probably find that the number of professional writers on the WF who do just that is far greater than you imagine. Most of us use Google alerts to find copyright thieves quickly, simply and easily.

      You're most likely correct in your assumption that being caught won't result in being sued, but a DMCA notice to your hosting company and being reported to Google Adsense or any company you're affiliated to for sales can spoil your day.

      There are plenty of people who spout off on here about not spending time chasing copyright thieves but it's something that most writers take seriously and can do very easily.

      Nigel
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  • Profile picture of the author GuerrillaIM
    I see your point, but I think its good to know what the boundries are, even if you end up stepping over them. Ignorance is no defense, as they say.
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  • Profile picture of the author YouDontKnowMe
    If you are using it for educational purposes, you can use a citation. You don't even have to necessarily link back if you mention the original author's name and company.
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    • Profile picture of the author khairulazan
      Originally Posted by YouDontKnowMe View Post

      If you are using it for educational purposes, you can use a citation. You don't even have to necessarily link back if you mention the original author's name and company.
      Yes, I agree with this. I have found on a website ( I don't remember where) an article someone write about republish an article on the internet. We can republish an article as long as we mention their origin and give the author an appreciation by state the article origin.
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      • Profile picture of the author Dan C. Rinnert
        Originally Posted by khairulazan View Post

        Yes, I agree with this. I have found on a website ( I don't remember where) an article someone write about republish an article on the internet. We can republish an article as long as we mention their origin and give the author an appreciation by state the article origin.
        If that's true then that article that "someone" wrote was wrong.
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    • Profile picture of the author John Atkins
      Originally Posted by BIG Mike View Post

      is the risk to your business worth a shortcut or saving a few bucks by having an original article written?
      Exactly... not to mention that re-writing is boring. I certianly prefer to
      hire someone to write an article for scratch instead of
      re-writing it.
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      • Profile picture of the author GuerrillaIM
        Originally Posted by IM Headlines View Post

        Exactly... not to mention that re-writing is boring. I certianly prefer to
        hire someone to write an article for scratch instead of
        re-writing it.
        How do you know the person you hire writes it from scratch?
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        • Profile picture of the author Jeremy Kelsall
          Originally Posted by GuerrillaIM View Post

          How do you know the person you hire writes it from scratch?
          More importantly - What lengths do you go through to make sure that even if it isn't copied word for word, that it isn't derivative of some other content?
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        • Profile picture of the author Dan C. Rinnert
          Originally Posted by GuerrillaIM View Post

          How do you know the person you hire writes it from scratch?
          Have the writer sign a contract that stipulates their work must be original.

          Of course, that won't be an absolute guarantee of originality, but it does help weed out some of the untrustworthy writers.
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          • Profile picture of the author GuerrillaIM
            Originally Posted by Dan C. Rinnert View Post

            Have the writer sign a contract that stipulates their work must be original.

            Of course, that won't be an absolute guarantee of originality, but it does help weed out some of the untrustworthy writers.
            That won't protect you legally. You are still responsible for what they write. It just gives you the ability to chase after them yourself if someone comes after you. I'm not sure how re-asuring that is if your contractor is in a thirdworld county.

            I guess the reason this thought is in my head is that I am starting to create a lot of content now and its tempting to try and shave a few dollars off expenses here and there.

            I did some tests today and it takes minutes to take an existing article and make it pass copyscape with TBS. I even managed to get some good quality copy scape passed articles with a single click. I wonder if johnathan ledger would give api access to his words database? That would be killer.

            I don't feel right taking other peoples articles though, so I will stick to paying for them.
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            • Profile picture of the author Dan C. Rinnert
              Originally Posted by GuerrillaIM View Post

              That won't protect you legally. You are still responsible for what they write. It just gives you the ability to chase after them yourself if someone comes after you. I'm not sure how re-asuring that is if your contractor is in a thirdworld county.
              The contracts are just one part of the effort.
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  • Profile picture of the author AzzamS
    Most people who used tools to monitoring copyright infringement generally look for exact sentences to track their original work. It is difficult to track a rewrite that even has one word that has been changed in a sentence let alone an entire article.

    Usually if a person has an idea that you are using an article of theirs that has been re-written then they will send an email with a warning nothing more since it is a costly endevour in resource to prove your argument.

    Most of the time you are safe since even in copyright law there is grey area's since one cannot really claim total ownership of every single sentence if the rest of the article does not match even if it is in the same theme. Its an argument that a lawyer would need to prove and the basis of it tends to be the 'loss' that is occurred to the original article owner and not just the article re-write. You end up having to prove that the article is yours and the person deliberately took yours and then re-wrote it and intends to use for commercial gains. You may even have to prove that they did this deliberately, etc. It is a lot of hard wark.
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    • Profile picture of the author Tina Golden
      You'll probably find that the number of people who pretend to be professional writers on the WF who do just that is far greater than you imagine. Most of us use Google alerts to find copyright thieves quickly, simply and easily.
      I've inserted the bold words to make that statement accurate. Genuine professional writers would not do this. Unfortunately, not all who say they are professionals really are.

      Tina
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      • Profile picture of the author Nigel Greaves
        Originally Posted by TMG Enterprises View Post

        I've inserted the bold words to make that statement accurate. Genuine professional writers would not do this. Unfortunately, not all who say they are professionals really are.

        Tina
        Tina,

        My statement was accurate in the first place and didn't require your alteration. You may not use Google Alerts in this way but I, and many other writers, do. In fact of the writers I know, the vast majority use them in this way.

        I'm not sure why you would find it strange or determine that it would make a writer unprofessional to do so.

        Nigel
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        • Profile picture of the author Tina Golden
          Originally Posted by Nigel Greaves View Post

          Tina,

          My statement was accurate in the first place and didn't require your alteration. You may not use Google Alerts in this way but I, and many other writers, do. In fact of the writers I know, the vast majority use them in this way.

          I'm not sure why you would find it strange or determine that it would make a writer unprofessional to do so.

          Nigel
          Nigel,

          You are quite right. I completely misunderstood your post. For some reason, I thought you were referring to professional writers re-writing content they found on the web. My only excuse is the possible lack of caffeine when I first read it.

          My sincere apologies,
          Tina
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          • Profile picture of the author Nigel Greaves
            Originally Posted by TMG Enterprises View Post

            Nigel,

            You are quite right. I completely misunderstood your post. For some reason, I thought you were referring to professional writers re-writing content they found on the web. My only excuse is the possible lack of caffeine when I first read it.

            My sincere apologies,
            Tina
            Tina,

            No worries, I know that "lack of caffeine" feeling well

            Nigel
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  • Profile picture of the author Michael Oksa
    There is NO percentage that makes it okay, at least from the perspective of plagiarism.

    Even if you go through and change EVERY word in the original article, you are still making a derivative work based upon it.

    That's still plagiarism.

    That doesn't mean you will get caught, and I'm sure those who defend the practice will start crawling out of the woodwork with their justifications, but ignore them.

    Again, to answer your specific question, there is no percentage that changes the fact that you are altering somebody else's work.

    Here's an example using your own words:
    I see your point, but I think its good to know what the boundries are, even if you end up stepping over them. Ignorance is no defense, as they say.
    My "100%" re-write:
    What you're saying makes sense, however my opinion is that we should be aware of any parameters, regardless of whether or not we exceed them. Not knowing the rules doesn't let you off the hook, according to "them".
    Now, those who advocate re-writing will see no problem with what I did, and, to be fair, most people who write for IM would never catch it, but...it's still derivative.

    You'll have to decide how comfortable you are with doing it this way, but I have found that writing stuff from scratch tends to be much easier in the long run.

    All the best,
    Michael
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    • Profile picture of the author Jeremy Kelsall
      Devils advocate?

      Almost anything you write is going to be derivative of something on the net.

      You could probably take any sentence in this thread, and find something that was written before it, that the original sentence writer COULD say that you copied them....
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      • Profile picture of the author Michael Oksa
        Originally Posted by Jeremy Kelsall View Post

        Devils advocate?

        Almost anything you write is going to be derivative of something on the net.

        You could probably take any sentence in this thread, and find something that was written before it, that the original sentence writer COULD say that you copied them....
        Come on, Jeremy, that's NOT the same thing.

        We are NOT talking about coming up with original ideas that could have been previously expressed in a very similar way. The OP was asking, specificaly, about re-writng an EXISTING work - that's the question I answered.

        However, I get your main point, and it is obvious to some degree. After all, English may be comprised of 100s of 1000s of words, but most people don't use more than a 3,000 - therefore, over time, words and sentences will be repeated.

        All the best,
        Michael
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        • Profile picture of the author Jeremy Kelsall
          Originally Posted by Michael Oksa View Post

          Come on, Jeremy, that's NOT the same thing.

          l
          hehe

          I know it's not the SAME thing, but certainly the results are the same?
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          • Profile picture of the author Michael Oksa
            Originally Posted by Jeremy Kelsall View Post

            hehe

            I know it's not the SAME thing, but certainly the results are the same?
            That's actually a really good question, Jeremy. I'm not so sure the results ARE the same. It would be interesting to do a comparison of both types of writing, and see if people could determine which is which.

            ~Michael
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            • Profile picture of the author Jeremy Kelsall
              Originally Posted by Michael Oksa View Post

              That's actually a really good question, Jeremy. I'm not so sure the results ARE the same. It would be interesting to do a comparison of both types of writing, and see if people could determine which is which.

              ~Michael
              I'm just saying, for example...

              You wrote:

              That's actually a really good question.

              I'm sure someone else has written:

              Now that I think about it that question is really good.

              Personally, I think people sweat the small stuff too much...I DON'T CARE IF SOMEONE COPIES MY ARTICLES, REWRITES THEM, OR TAKES THEM AND STRIPS MY SIG BOX OUT.

              Why don't I care?

              Because I'll never spend my time looking to find out.

              I was talking to a guy the other night on skype...

              Him: I just spent 4 hours searching for people stealing my content

              ME: Are you stupid? You couldn't find anything more productive to do with 4 hours of your time? LMAO @ YOU
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          • Profile picture of the author Dennis Gaskill
            Originally Posted by Jeremy Kelsall View Post

            Devils advocate?

            Almost anything you write is going to be derivative of something on the net.

            You could probably take any sentence in this thread, and find something that was written before it, that the original sentence writer COULD say that you copied them....
            I hardly think finding a similar sentence is the same thing. Rewriting an article will usually mean restating idea after idea in the same order. The order becomes a dead giveaway and a basis for legal action.

            Originally Posted by kindsvater View Post

            I'm not sure that could even be considered a derivative work. It's the same work - you're just replacing words with synonyms - which by definition have the same meaning. That's not a very compelling argument to make to a judge.
            And to the OP, in case you don't know, the answer from kindsvater is the only one from an attorney. On a side note, asking for legal advice from strangers generally isn't a good idea. You end up with a lot of "best guesses" that are seldom rooted in a true understanding of copyright law.
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            • Profile picture of the author Jeremy Kelsall
              Originally Posted by Dennis Gaskill View Post

              I hardly think finding a similar sentence is the same thing. Rewriting an article will usually mean restating idea after idea in the same order. The order becomes a dead giveaway and a basis for legal action.
              Dennis, I know it's not the SAME thing, but I am contending that the results are often the same, or VERY similar.

              For instance, If I were writing a book on home maintenance or something similar, and had a chapter or section on how to change a light bulb, or install a new kitchen faucet, etc...?

              Even if I NEVER read another article or book on the subject, and wrote only from experience, surely the steps, wording, etc would be very similar. I realize that this is a very general example and doesn't fit exactly with the question at hand, but in the land of the Internet, just about everything has had content created on it to death, and straight up rewriting or writing from the top of your head, the result is bound to be similar to someone elses, if not very close to the same.
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              • Profile picture of the author Dennis Gaskill
                Originally Posted by Jeremy Kelsall View Post

                Dennis, I know it's not the SAME thing, but I am contending that the results are often the same, or VERY similar.

                For instance, If I were writing a book on home maintenance or something similar, and had a chapter or section on how to change a light bulb, or install a new kitchen faucet, etc...?

                Even if I NEVER read another article or book on the subject, and wrote only from experience, surely the steps, wording, etc would be very similar. I realize that this is a very general example and doesn't fit exactly with the question at hand, but in the land of the Internet, just about everything has had content created on it to death, and straight up rewriting or writing from the top of your head, the result is bound to be similar to someone elses, if not very close to the same.
                True enough, Jeremy. This may be one of the reasons why ideas can't be copyrighted. I would suspect the more widespread or common the knowledge is, the harder it would be to make a good case that something is a derivative work or plagiarism.

                Whenever this question comes up I usually say do the research, then put the material away for a few days. If you can then write the article you want without opening the research material, you've learned the subject matter and can call what you write your own, assuming you didn't memorize it or hijack catchy phrases.
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  • Profile picture of the author kindsvater
    I'm not sure that could even be considered a derivative work. It's the same work - you're just replacing words with synonyms - which by definition have the same meaning. That's not a very compelling argument to make to a judge.

    .
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    • Profile picture of the author Jeremy Kelsall
      Originally Posted by kindsvater View Post

      I'm not sure that could even be considered a derivative work. It's the same work - you're just replacing words with synonyms - which by definition have the same meaning. That's not a very compelling argument to make to a judge.

      .
      Only rookies do it with synonym replacement

      Rewriting has gotten to be more of an art form

      By no means am I advocating going to EZA or any other AD, snatching an article, and running it through a rewriter and calling it a day.

      BUT

      ALL of us do research on topics, and in the process, we research, in many cases, by reading other articles, books, wikis, blogs, etc...

      So without a doubt, in MANY cases, even the person that closes all of their browsers, closes their hard copy books, and just starts writing, could also be guilty of their content being at least somewhat derivative of someone elses work.
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    • Profile picture of the author Mike Anthony
      Originally Posted by kindsvater View Post

      I'm not sure that could even be considered a derivative work. It's the same work

      .
      Exactly. I think itsd pretty easy to creat original works. IF you read several articles on the same subject and then sit down to write what you have learned form all without looking at them then you will come up with what you learned and thats not derivative.
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  • Profile picture of the author Michael Oksa
    That's good to hear, G, it really is. Not everybody makes that decision.

    If you should find that you are tempted with the thought of "taking other peoples articles" in the future, then simply change the word taking to stealing - it's more accurate.

    ~Michael
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  • Profile picture of the author madison_avenue
    Anyway PLR content can be legitimately used for rewriting, 90% of "original" articles seem to be based on PLR anyway!
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    • Profile picture of the author Dan C. Rinnert
      Originally Posted by madison_avenue View Post

      Anyway PLR content can be legitimately used for rewriting, 90% of "original" articles seem to be based on PLR anyway!
      Just so long as the original author of the PLR didn't swipe it from somewhere, which is why, if you use PLR, it is best to get it from a trusted source, preferably the original author.
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      • Profile picture of the author Martin Luxton
        I don't think talking about the legal niceties of this is the appropriate response.

        It should be more along the lines of "What the f*** are you doing even thinking about doing this?"

        Martin
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        • Profile picture of the author Nigel Greaves
          Originally Posted by Martin Luxton View Post

          I don't think talking about the legal niceties of this is the appropriate response.

          It should be more along the lines of "What the f*** are you doing even thinking about doing this?"

          Martin
          Martin,

          Stop pussyfooting around and say what you mean!

          Nigel
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        • Profile picture of the author GuerrillaIM
          Originally Posted by Martin Luxton View Post

          I don't think talking about the legal niceties of this is the appropriate response.

          It should be more along the lines of "What the f*** are you doing even thinking about doing this?"

          Martin
          Well, seeing as you put it like that...

          Might as well rob them blind
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  • Profile picture of the author jose del imo
    Don't copy, don't steal and don't re-write. Work hard and write your own articles always. That's the safe and smart thing to do.
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  • Profile picture of the author Jamian
    Do your own thinking independently!

    Jamian
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  • Profile picture of the author Paleochora
    It's a strange fact that IM writers and writers on the net generally get more bent out of shape abut this sort of thing than anyone else.

    Professional journalists have been rehashing, re-writing & re-publishing the resultant content since the arrival of the first printing presses and is still a common practice still in Fleet Street and around the world.

    Also, if you do not want content appearing anywhere elase on the net i) Disable RSS on your site/blog and ii) Read the TOS of all every article directory you submit to .
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  • Profile picture of the author Bret Ferguson
    I'm not an expert on copyright law but if each of us here wrote an article on making toast we would probably write very similar articles probably using the same words and phrases explaining how to do this. If it were to be examined it would look like we all got together and collaberated on this. (I'm sure there would be some people who would make this more creative than others) But you get my point.

    So how does this affect article writing, sales pages, ebook authoring etc. etc. where is the legal line here? And how do you prove it?
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    • Profile picture of the author Tina Golden
      Professional journalists have been rehashing, re-writing & re-publishing the resultant content since the arrival of the first printing presses and is still a common practice still in Fleet Street and around the world.
      There is a difference between news content and other types of content. Try rewriting Harry Potter and see where that gets you.

      Tina
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      • Profile picture of the author madison_avenue
        Originally Posted by TMG Enterprises View Post

        There is a difference between news content and other types of content. Try rewriting Harry Potter and see where that gets you.

        Tina
        The Harry Potter story was remarkably similar to story called: Adventures of Willy the Wizard, by a British author!
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      • Profile picture of the author jennypitts
        Originally Posted by Nigel Greaves View Post


        You're most likely correct in your assumption that being caught won't result in being sued, but a DMCA notice to your hosting company and being reported to Google Adsense or any company you're affiliated to for sales can spoil your day.
        I think that anyone who is serious about their business and about being successful should take some of these things into consideration. Sure, most people might not even bother to pursue the copyright violators, but it is a violation nonetheless.

        Originally Posted by TMG Enterprises View Post

        Unfortunately, not all who say they are professionals really are.
        Tina
        I have to agree Tina!!! And, just to prove why I always outsource my articles to an American Writer, my husband suggested we try to add another writer to our team. This time we decided to try one of the Asian countries that so many people boast about. The guy we chose was so pushy on the fact that he was a professional writer and that his English was great, that we selected him. WELL, here it goes for a very good laugh....

        We just got the first batch of articles last night, OMG, I had never in my life seen such a badly written article. AND to top it off one of them WAS A SPUN version of another article WE had bought from our ongoing article writer. IT was so badly spun but I was still able to identify it immediately. The same exact meaning, same idea in each paragraph and the same use of words, except that most were replaced with synonyms and tweaked a bit. The funny thing is that somehow he still managed to make it illegible. Now, we not only have to turn this in to our regular Article writer for rewriting, but are so embarrassed by the fact that another writer we hired SPUN one of her articles. What are the odds? Well, it happened to us.

        Originally Posted by Michael Oksa View Post

        There is NO percentage that makes it okay, at least from the perspective of plagiarism.

        Even if you go through and change EVERY word in the original article, you are still making a derivative work based upon it.

        That's still plagiarism.
        Yep, Michael, just like it happened to us last night... Taking anything, even if you re-write it completely is still "stealing" someone else's thoughts. Granted information many times will be the same but the way it is presented will always vary.
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      • Profile picture of the author Paleochora
        Originally Posted by TMG Enterprises View Post

        There is a difference between news content and other types of content. Try rewriting Harry Potter and see where that gets you.

        Tina
        harrypotterfanfiction.com :: 60,000 Harry Potter stories and podcasts
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        • Profile picture of the author Tina Golden
          There is also quite a big distinction between writing fan fiction that is clearly labeled as such and what I was referring to. Most "rewriters" simply rewrite as the go along so that while the words may be different, the entire story reads the same.

          Funny how so many people will complain about all the "rehashed" and "regurgitated" reports, ebooks and WSOs but so many still think that it's okay to simply rewrite something into your own words without doing any actual research.

          Tina
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    • Profile picture of the author Michael Oksa
      Originally Posted by Bret Ferguson View Post

      I'm not an expert on copyright law but if each of us here wrote an article on making toast we would probably write very similar articles probably using the same words and phrases explaining how to do this. If it were to be examined it would look like we all got together and collaberated on this. (I'm sure there would be some people who would make this more creative than others) But you get my point.

      So how does this affect article writing, sales pages, ebook authoring etc. etc. where is the legal line here? And how do you prove it?
      Excellent idea, Bret!

      Another writer and I are currently doing an experiment using the exact topic you mention.

      We will post as soon as we're done.

      I hope it's as revealing as it is fun.

      All the best,
      Michael
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    • Profile picture of the author Dan C. Rinnert
      Originally Posted by Bret Ferguson View Post

      I'm not an expert on copyright law but if each of us here wrote an article on making toast we would probably write very similar articles probably using the same words and phrases explaining how to do this. If it were to be examined it would look like we all got together and collaberated on this. (I'm sure there would be some people who would make this more creative than others) But you get my point.

      So how does this affect article writing, sales pages, ebook authoring etc. etc. where is the legal line here? And how do you prove it?
      The thing to bear in mind is that facts cannot be copyrighted. And, there is recognition that there are a limited number of ways to express a fact.

      For example: The Smooth Green Snake is so named because it is green in color.

      How many ways can you write that? The Smooth Green Snake got its name because of its color. Green in color, the Smooth Green Snake also has a smooth appearance. The Smooth Green Snake is green. Colored green, the Smooth Green Snake is so named.

      And so on. There are a limited number of ways you can express that fact.

      However, the more that is written, the more divergence there should be. Someone spinning an article would be limited to the information presented in the original article. Someone who did some research would have additional information.

      Thus, if the original line was "The Smooth Green Snake is so named because it is green in color", someone simply rewriting the article may write "Because of its color, the Smooth Green Snake got its name." However, someone who actually did some research might write, "The Smooth Green Snake got its name from the coloring of the mature snake, as juveniles are dark in appearance."

      So, there may be commonality in information, especially when it comes to facts, but someone who is writing an original article should have access to a wider array of facts than someone who is limited to only that information contained in a single article that is being rewritten.

      Which is also why ideas cannot be copyrighted. Two people might have the same idea, but develop it in entirely different directions.
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      • Profile picture of the author StacyHolmes
        In my opinion, any degree of using other people's content is unethical - unless you have permission. It takes work to actually research and put content together and if you had done that work yourself, how would you feel if someone grabbed it and took the easy way out?

        I don't honestly think someone who has written an article is going to hunt around the web looking for people who have copied them and then sue them over an article that they probably got outsourced for a few dollars.
        Oh yes they will. I've seen it happen.

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  • Profile picture of the author khairulazan
    Maybe it is true that someone that the original author of the article will not find it but duplicate content will bad ranking for the seo.
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  • Profile picture of the author Michael Oksa
    Ok boys and girls. Call your friends and wake the neighbors!

    The experiment is done. Tina (TMGEnterprises) and I each wrote a quick article about making toast. We each worked completely independently and had no idea what the other was going to write.

    Once we each had our originals done, we sent them to the other person. We then re-wrote each others articles.

    Can you REALLY tell which ones are re-writes, and could be potentially pegged as plagiarized?

    Here they are in random order:


    A:

    So, your alarm has just gone off...you grab a cup of coffee, but that's just not doing the trick. What can you do? Do what people have done since the discovery of bread; make toast! Just follow along and you will have a piece of crunchy goodness to spread your butter on.

    If you don't have any sliced bread, your first step will be to saw off a slice that will fit into your toaster. Now that you have a slice of bread (wheter it was pre-sliced or you did it yourself), place the slice into your toaster.

    You're almost done!

    Ok, now all you have to do is push the lever down to start the toasting process. It's a good idea to set the dial to make lighter toast at first, as you can always re-toast it if it's not to your liking.

    Once the toast is done, remove it from the toaster and slather it with butter, or jelly, or peanut butter, or...whatever you prefer. Have a great day and enjoy your toast.


    B:

    A great way to get your day started is with toast, especially if you happen to be one of those whose brain gets into gear before your stomach. There is no better way to get your internal furnace fired up than with a few pieces of golden brown bread with just the right amount of strawberry preserves. But wait! Making your toast just right ensures your day will be off to a good start. No doubt about it, making perfect toast is definitely a fine art.

    For starters, make sure your toaster's settings are correct. The dial on my toaster has the numbers 1 through 10 (10 is the darkest, 1 is the lightest). Yours may be different, but the 1 on mine could be accurately labeled "bread" and the 10 could be labeled "ash". The perfect slice of toast lies somewhere within that range.

    Personally, the tastiest, perfect golden brown toast, for my toaster, is found at precisely 4 1/2. Because each toaster is different, you will have to use trial and error to find the right number for you, but once you find it you will know what to expect each time you insert a piece of bread into the slot.

    The perfect toast requires the right kind of bread. The bread I crave will often vary based on my mood, but when honey nut bread is available, that's usually on the top of my list.

    Once I have the toaster set at 4 1/2, I insert a slice of bread then pour myself a fresh cup of dark coffee. That's usually the same amount of time it takes for the toaster to pop. Then I spread a healthy portion of butter across the freshly-browned toast and add some of the previously mentioned strawberry preserves...and I'm in Heaven!


    C:

    Toast is a wonderful little start to the day for those of us whose stomachs wake up later than our brains. A couple of slices of delicately browned bread with a bit of strawberry jam is just the perfect way to put something in our stomach to get our metabolism working for the day. However, for this to be a good start to the day, the toast must be made just right. Yes, there truly is an art to making perfect toast.

    To begin with, if you are using an electric toaster, as most of us do, you need to check the settings on your toaster. Mine has dial settings ranging from 1 to 10 with 1 being the lightest and 10 being the darkest. Perhaps not all toasters are like this but with mine, 1 might as well be named "bread" and 10 could be called "charcoal". Needless to say, perfect toast falls somewhere in between those two numbers.

    In my case, I have found that 4.5 makes my toast the beautiful golden shade of brown that is the epitome of toast perfection to my tastebuds. This may take you some experimentation to find just the right setting but once you do, you know exactly what you are going to get every time you put in your bread.

    The next thing to be concerned about when making perfect toast would be the type of bread that you choose. Now, for me, this can vary by the mood I am in, but if I have honey nut bread in the house that is generally my first choice.

    After making sure my toaster dial is at 4.5, I put in my bread and go pour my morning cup of coffee. When I am done with that, I usually hear my toast pop up just about at the same time. Spread a bit of butter evenly across the perfectly browned slices and top with a spoonful of strawberry jam...ah, heaven!


    D:

    When your alarm clock goes off in the morning, what happens when coffee just doesn't do the trick? What do you do now? You can do what people have been doing since they invented fire -- toast some bread. Follow these simple directions and you'll soon have a crunchy slice of toast to slather with butter.

    If your bread isn't pre-sliced, the first thing you need to do is cut a piece off the loaf, making sure it will fit in your toaster slot. Once you have the sliced bread, do it yourself or pre-sliced, just stick it into the toaster.

    Almost there!

    So now you just need to push the handle down to start the bread to toasting. One good technique is to put the dial a little lower than you think you need. You can always cook a little longer but you can't go backwards if it gets overdone.

    When the toast pops up, take it out and spread with butter, jam or even peanut butter if you'd rather. After you enjoy the toast, you can meet the rest of your day with a smile.

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    Ok, I don't know if it proves anything, but I'm guessing most of you can tell which articles are rewrites of each other.

    So? Care to take a guess at which ones are which?

    All the best,
    Michael
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  • Profile picture of the author madison_avenue
    D is rewrite of A, and C is a rewrite of B. A is the best written article is A though!
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    • Profile picture of the author Michael Oksa
      Originally Posted by madison_avenue View Post

      D is rewrite of A, and C is a rewrite of B. A is the best written article is A though!
      Thanks for the guess, madison. I'll post the correct answer in the near future.

      All the best,
      Michael
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  • Profile picture of the author Raydal
    I was once threatened with legal action because I copied two
    words from a book (with reference) in my ebook. These 2 words
    were "location matters". The author called me on the phone and
    said I had to remove those words from my book or else ...

    You can never tell what length people will go through to
    defend their work.

    -Ray Edwards
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    • Profile picture of the author Michael Oksa
      Originally Posted by Raydal View Post

      I was once threatened with legal action because I copied two
      words from a book (with reference) in my ebook. These 2 words
      were "location matters". The author called me on the phone and
      said I had to remove those words from my book or else ...

      You can never tell what length people will go through to
      defend their work.

      -Ray Edwards
      Great point, Ray! While that phrase may not be enough, if memory serves there have been cases when ony a few words was all it took to start a case of infringement. And the original authors have won!

      All the best,
      Michael
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      • Profile picture of the author Tina Golden
        If anyone cares to explain why they choose the way they do (when determining which is a copy and which is original), that may be very enlightening, as well.

        Tina
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        • Profile picture of the author madison_avenue
          Originally Posted by TMG Enterprises View Post

          If anyone cares to explain why they choose the way they do (when determining which is a copy and which is original), that may be very enlightening, as well.

          Tina
          It's impossible to tell which is the original and which is the rewrite.
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      • Profile picture of the author grayambition
        Originally Posted by Michael Oksa View Post

        Great point, Ray! While that phrase may not be enough, if memory serves there have been cases when ony a few words was all it took to start a case of infringement. And the original authors have won!

        All the best,
        Michael
        A few words may be enough to start a case of infringement, but I'd be surprised if a case were won on that basis without something more substantive.

        I am not a lawyer, nor have I ever played one, but I have been involved in a copyright suit. About 15 years ago, a co-author and I were sued based on the table of contents of one of our computer books. At the time, it struck us as ridiculous, since we weren't even aware of the other book or its author. And when we compared the two TOC's, we found very few similarities.

        But anyone can bring a suit, so I ended up having to fly out to Philadelphia (or somewhere like that, can't remember the exact location) and spend a day in a conference room with a bunch of lawyers defending our research and thought processes.

        It's a bit fuzzy after all these years, but the bottom line was that a table of contents can't be copyrighted. So even if we had copied the TOC word for word (which we hadn't), it would not have been considered copyright infringement.

        I must say that this result surprised me. I already knew that titles can't be copyrighted. But I would have thought that a table of contents and the level of organization it requires would be a different story.

        Disclaimer: I'm not providing advice, legal or otherwise. This is purely anecdotal, and a similar suit could have different results.
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  • Profile picture of the author Matt Bard
    I'm not defending taking (stealing) someone's work but on the subject of derivation and Harry Potter...

    I have always been a little confused about how the nuances and boundaries in "derivative" are reached when talking about stories. (movies, plays)

    Because the truth is that the Greeks discovered there are only 26 or 27 plot lines and they, (the Greeks) have already used them.

    So what is it that defines the separation from one movie to the next?

    Look at any "Romance", or "Action Adventure" movies. So you just change the actors and the names of the characters and that's it?

    Obviously we can't reduce everything down to a single movie, play, or book as Big Mike states. So what do stories have to do differently from one another to pass the test?

    p.s. Thought I would state for the record that I too, believe that the best way to "re write" an article is to do the research and then sit down and "re explain" it in your own thoughts and words.
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  • Profile picture of the author Dennis Gaskill
    A is a rewrite of D; B is a rewrite of C.

    Reasoning: simple math. I chose the shorter articles as the rewrites because rewriting, for a writer, in part means eliminating unnecessary words. lol - is that cheating? Not if I'm wrong!

    I'll furthermore risk looking like a knucklehead by guessing Michael wrote the original of B or C, whichever is the original. Reason? He writes "wordier" posts more often than Tina, at least in my memory.

    Here's my rewrite:

    Get up. Have toast. Turn on computer. Begin the day.
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  • Profile picture of the author timpears
    You are asking a legal question, and I don't know as anyone here is a licensed lawyer. Not a good idea to take legal advice from a lay person. In fact, it is illegal in the USA (and most possibly most other countries too) for people to give legal advice unless they are trained and licensed.

    Check the law for yourself, or talk to a lawyer.
    U.S. Copyright Office - Copyright Law of the United States
    US CODE: Title 17,107. Limitations on exclusive rights: Fair use
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    • Profile picture of the author Dennis Gaskill
      Originally Posted by timpears View Post

      You are asking a legal question, and I don't know as anyone here is a licensed lawyer. Not a good idea to take legal advice from a lay person. In fact, it is illegal in the USA (and most possibly most other countries too) for people to give legal advice unless they are trained and licensed.

      Check the law for yourself, or talk to a lawyer.
      U.S. Copyright Office - Copyright Law of the United States
      US CODE: Title 17,107. Limitations on exclusive rights: Fair use
      Tim, your advice not to take legal advice from a lay person is good. One lawyer has spoken up though, as I pointed out earlier. However, his advice in a forum is a very informed opinion that I'd guess does not constitute legal advice and should not be substituted for legal advice.
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  • Profile picture of the author mikemcmillan
    I have no problem if one wants to use software to spin articles they have written themselves. I wouldn't do that because I take to much pride in what I write.

    Now, if someone takes one of my articles and (1) uses software to rewrite or spin it, or--sits at their computer and uses my article as the basis of creating their own article--I would call that creating a derivative work from mine.

    I would claim that they are profiting from the fruits of my labor. I want to eat my own fruits!
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  • Profile picture of the author Michael Oksa
    Here is one of the cases I had in mind.

    ALSO, note what it says about the sued author's learning on his own and then regurgitating it in hos own words. While I agree it's far better than simply rewriting someone else's work, it's still no guarantee - especially if you happen to "accidentally" use a phrase that's specific to another author.

    Guiding Rights Blog :: Plagiarism, Fair Use and Infringement: The Meter Drops On Anthony Robbins - The Guiding Rights Newsletter 1:4

    A very good read, and I thought it was relevant to the current discussion.

    All the best,
    Michael

    p.s. Thanks for the other guesses. I will tell you that some of the guesses are wrong, some are right, and some are both.

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    • Profile picture of the author grayambition
      Originally Posted by Michael Oksa View Post

      Here is one of the cases I had in mind.

      ALSO, note what it says about the sued author's learning on his own and then regurgitating it in hos own words. While I agree it's far better than simply rewriting someone else's work, it's still no guarantee - especially if you happen to "accidentally" use a phrase that's specific to another author.

      Guiding Rights Blog :: Plagiarism, Fair Use and Infringement: The Meter Drops On Anthony Robbins - The Guiding Rights Newsletter 1:4

      A very good read, and I thought it was relevant to the current discussion.

      Michael, this case is an excellent illustration. While it's true that the "copied" section was quite small, it was clear (at least in my mind) why this was a clear case of copyright infringement. I don't think it was a case of "accidentally" using "a phrase that's specific to another author.

      To me, it speaks to the importance of both knowing your topic and doing proper research. With either sufficient topic knowledge or adequate research, Anthony Robbins would have known which terms were common to the industry and which were unique to Wade Cook's work.

      The terms "meter drop" and "rolling stocks" appear to have been "created" by Mr. Cook. I'm not a stock expert, and apparently Mr. Robbins isn't either. If I wanted to write about these concepts after reading Mr. Cook's work, I would do enough additional research to determine whether these phrases were in common use. If (as I found with a quick search), I found these phrases only in Mr. Cook's work, I would use them only with proper attribution.

      Then, as icing on the cake, Mr. Robbins copied Mr. Cook's two rules word for word. Perhaps he thought that by leaving the final word in each phrase blank for fill-in as part of his "workbook," he was avoiding plagiarism, but it's hard for me to see how he could have thought that.

      You could certainly make the case that "don't get greedy" is a common phrase. But a straight duplication, in order, of the two rules, when "don't get greedy" is rule #2, is blatant plagiarism.

      So I don't see this as a case of accidentally taking a short phrase or two, but rather claiming ownership of a concept.
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    • Profile picture of the author madison_avenue
      Originally Posted by Michael Oksa View Post

      Here is one of the cases I had in mind.

      ALSO, note what it says about the sued author's learning on his own and then regurgitating it in hos own words. While I agree it's far better than simply rewriting someone else's work, it's still no guarantee - especially if you happen to "accidentally" use a phrase that's specific to another author.

      Guiding Rights Blog :: Plagiarism, Fair Use and Infringement: The Meter Drops On Anthony Robbins - The Guiding Rights Newsletter 1:4

      A very good read, and I thought it was relevant to the current discussion.

      All the best,
      Michael

      p.s. Thanks for the other guesses. I will tell you that some of the guesses are wrong, some are right, and some are both.

      Thanks for that article link Michael.

      Rolling stocks are a well known type of stock in the investment industry, I don't think Tony Robbins using the term "rolling stock" would have caused a problem. What I think caused the problem was using the term "meter drop", in relation to rolling stocks, which purported to be distinct investment method and was invented by Wade.
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  • Profile picture of the author Michael Oksa
    Hi Jan,

    Your last sentence brings up another point that frequently goes hand in hand with the rewriting debate (though it isn't really a debate as it is a series of justifications): claims of fair use.

    So I don't see this as a case of accidentally taking a short phrase or two, but rather claiming ownership of a concept.
    In this case, that's what Robbins was claiming. It also seems that he didn't use very much of Wade's original. Wouldn't one or two sentences out of a book of 5,000 sentences be fair use?

    Maybe not.

    My main point in posting that link is that people need to be very careful before assuming their level rewriting falls within the boundaries of fair use.

    All the best,
    Michael

    p.s. Any more guesses on the rewriting experiment posted above?
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  • Profile picture of the author Floyd Fisher
    Originally Posted by GuerrillaIM View Post

    If I take an article, run it through a spinner so the words are different but the meaning is essentially exactly the same. Have I committed copyright theft?

    How much do I need to change for it to be legal? How is this measured?
    Here's the question you ought to ask:

    Someone else does the same thing to your articles. Would you feel like they are stealing from you?

    If you don't like it, then don't it to others.
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  • Profile picture of the author MassiveMarketer
    Yes. I suggest you paraphrase it completely. Not just find words synonymous to the one you're rewriting. If you'll be getting or quoting from someone, make sure to put citations or acknowledgement where you got it from. Try read then write.
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    • Profile picture of the author Michael Oksa
      Originally Posted by madison_avenue View Post

      D is rewrite of A, and C is a rewrite of B. A is the best written article is A though!
      Originally Posted by Dennis Gaskill View Post

      A is a rewrite of D; B is a rewrite of C.

      Reasoning: simple math. I chose the shorter articles as the rewrites because rewriting, for a writer, in part means eliminating unnecessary words. lol - is that cheating? Not if I'm wrong!

      I'll furthermore risk looking like a knucklehead by guessing Michael wrote the original of B or C, whichever is the original. Reason? He writes "wordier" posts more often than Tina, at least in my memory.

      Here's my rewrite:

      Get up. Have toast. Turn on computer. Begin the day.
      D is Tina's rewrite of my original A.

      B is my rewrite of Tina's original C.

      So, madison is correct that D is a rewrite of A. Dennis is correct that B is a rewrite of C. However, I wrote the less wordy original of A, and Tina wrote C.

      I'm not sure what this experiment proves, except that people can tell when something is rewritten instead of put into one's own words. I think.

      There weren't really enough responses to draw a scientific conclusion, but it was fun. Perhaps doing it again with more authors would help?

      All the best,
      Michael
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      • Profile picture of the author madison_avenue
        Originally Posted by Michael Oksa View Post

        D is Tina's rewrite of my original A.

        B is my rewrite of Tina's original C.

        So, madison is correct that D is a rewrite of A. Dennis is correct that B is a rewrite of C. However, I wrote the less wordy original of A, and Tina wrote C.

        I'm not sure what this experiment proves, except that people can tell when something is rewritten instead of put into one's own words. I think.

        There weren't really enough responses to draw a scientific conclusion, but it was fun. Perhaps doing it again with more authors would help?

        All the best,
        Michael
        Well at least I was half right!
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        • Profile picture of the author Dennis Gaskill
          Originally Posted by madison_avenue View Post

          Well at least I was half right!
          You and I tied for Champions of the Warrior Forum Rewrite Guessing Game. I'm thinking Michael and Tina should chip in and buy us each a trophy for our mantle.
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  • Profile picture of the author Dennis Gaskill
    Regarding the Anthony Robbins plagiarism of Wade Cook's work, it makes me wonder if the jury would have ruled the same way if the roles were reversed.

    If Robbins had written the first book, and Cook came out with his later, would the jury have ruled in favor of Robbins? Sometimes, whether consciously or subconsciously, juries sympathize with the little guy and are biased against individuals or companies that are perceived as more important.

    There are many documented cases and studies proving the presence of juror bias. The Effects of Juror Bias on Judicial Decisions. I'm not defending Robbins here, I just find it interesting.
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  • Profile picture of the author CDarklock
    Originally Posted by GuerrillaIM View Post

    If I take an article ... Have I committed copyright theft?
    Yes. Notice how I left everything else out. The theft is when you TAKE THE ARTICLE. No matter what you do to the article, you're infringing on copyright. That's how you measure it: did you start with someone else's article?

    You don't really want to know how not to infringe, you want to know how to get away with it. But looking at it in percentage terms isn't going to help you. You have to write a different article. If they look like the same article, even if it's "98% unique" according to Copyscape (an absurd concept; an article is either UNIQUE or it is NOT), you can end up in trouble.
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    • Profile picture of the author Michael Oksa
      Originally Posted by CDarklock View Post

      Yes. Notice how I left everything else out. The theft is when you TAKE THE ARTICLE. No matter what you do to the article, you're infringing on copyright. That's how you measure it: did you start with someone else's article?

      You don't really want to know how not to infringe, you want to know how to get away with it. But looking at it in percentage terms isn't going to help you. You have to write a different article. If they look like the same article, even if it's "98% unique" according to Copyscape (an absurd concept; an article is either UNIQUE or it is NOT), you can end up in trouble.
      Quick note: When Tina checked my rewrite of her original article, it came back as 100% original. But just reading those two articles (B and C), you can clearly tell that one of them is a rewrite.

      You are right that "n% uniqueness" is a myth.

      However...

      IF you are starting with an article you have the rights to, and want to rewrite for whatever reason, then using Copyscape or DupeFreePro can be handy.

      All the best,
      Michael

      p.s. C, you are also correct in that there are no degrees of uniqueness, but common usage (not correct, just common) doesn't always bear that out.
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  • Profile picture of the author mccflo99
    Anyone who has taken a freshman level writing class in college knows what plagiarism (theft) is. If you think it's okay to "re-write" ANY of someone else's work without proper credit, you're sadly mistaken. Anyone saying "well, we might write similar articles" is simply trying to create a smoke screen - you know if you plagiarized or not.

    I realize that plagiarism is rampant, especially on this forum, but that doesn't make it right. I've worked with article writers on this forum who probably committed one or more acts of plagiarism in the work they did for me. Also, my sales letter format and content has been hijacked by hundreds of people including some of the biggest names in Internet Marketing history (copywriters included) which is proven by little "things" I put in the code of my letter and in the format.

    What this all comes down to is if the original author 1) finds out you plagiarized their work and 2) has the time, desire, resources to do something about it.

    In the majority of cases, number one will never happen.

    Ray, two words certainly falls within "fair use" guidelines which any attorney will tell you.

    Chris Elliott
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  • Profile picture of the author niffybranco
    Everything we know is a derivative of something we heard , watched, read or learnt from someone else. Only true masters Newton and Einstien came up with original ideas.
    As long as you learn from an article and rewrite it in your own words there shouldn't be a problem but then again some people will sue you at the slightest chance they get
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  • Profile picture of the author mccflo99
    Niffy Branco,

    Again, "Everything we know is a derivative of something we heard" is a smokescreen - you know if you plagiarized or not.

    Chris Elliott
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    • Profile picture of the author niffybranco
      Originally Posted by mccflo99 View Post

      Niffy Branco,

      Again, "Everything we know is a derivative of something we heard" is a smokescreen - you know if you plagiarized or not.

      Chris Elliott
      I'm not advising anyone to plagiarize neither am i hiding behind a smokescreen all i'm saying is i'm sure all the knowledge you have had to be learnt from somewhere and anything you are going to write is going to be a result of what you have learnt from others
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  • Profile picture of the author mccflo99
    Hi Niffy,

    I find it a bit disturbing that you think there are no original writings other than those of Einstein and Newton. Everything is not simply a rehash my friend.

    There are millions experts in various fields who have done research, obtained experience, and taken part in hands on work in their chosen field who are more than qualified to write original content based on their expertise.

    This could be the local trash man (or woman) writing a manual for would be trash men (or women) on how to efficiently collect trash based on experience, or an archeologist who writes a field guide on how to collect fossil specimens without damaging them.

    You have the mindset of many of the people here who think that it is okay to summarize and re-write content without proper citations.

    I'm not bashing anyone here, I'm simply making the facts clear as they seem to become clouded here. I have hired article and content writers who have obviously plagiarized because they aren't experts on the subjects I've hired them to write about. They research the subject and write the content.

    The fact still remains - If someone finds that their content was plagiarized, the offending party is responsible and could be held liable.

    Chris Elliott
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    • Profile picture of the author niffybranco
      Originally Posted by mccflo99 View Post

      Hi Niffy,

      I find it a bit disturbing that you think there are no original writings other than those of Einstein and Newton. Everything is not simply a rehash my friend.

      There are millions experts in various fields who have done research, obtained experience, and taken part in hands on work in their chosen field who are more than qualified to write original content based on their expertise.

      This could be the local trash man (or woman) writing a manual for would be trash men (or women) on how to efficiently collect trash based on experience, or an archeologist who writes a field guide on how to collect fossil specimens without damaging them.

      You have the mindset of many of the people here who think that it is okay to summarize and re-write content without proper citations.

      I'm not bashing anyone here, I'm simply making the facts clear as they seem to become clouded here. I have hired article and content writers who have obviously plagiarized because they aren't experts on the subjects I've hired them to write about. They research the subject and write the content.

      The fact still remains - If someone finds that their content was plagiarized, the offending party is responsible and could be held liable.

      Chris Elliott
      So your'e basically saying everyone got the knowledge they have without ever learning or studying something?
      I never said it was ok to summarize or re write content without citation all i said was i do not see anything wrong in putting things you learnt from other sources in your own words or even better adding extra value to it and sharing with others. I guess everyone who writes about SEO , link building and internet marketing in general all came up with original ideas. The fact is most learn from others and go ahead to share their own knowledge by putting what they have learnt and applied in their own unique words.
      As stated earlier you cannot copyright an idea. Of course it is wrong to copy somone's work but if i have knowledge about something and i decide to sit down and write it out in my own words to share my experience with others i do not think it is a crime as long as the knowledge i am putting out is what i have learnt and not something i have copied, re- written or summarized.
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  • Profile picture of the author blogrev
    I would think if you contacted person who wrote it in first place and asked could you rewrite it. Which I have been asked several times. I just ask for link back which makes me happy. I would not just take someones work and rewrite it that is copyright infringement.
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  • Profile picture of the author mccflo99
    Niffy,

    You're tone has sure changed. First you said...

    "As long as you learn from an article and rewrite it in your own words there shouldn't be a problem"

    Now you've updated that to say...

    "I never said it was ok to summarize or re write content without citation all i said was i do not see anything wrong in putting things you learnt from other sources in your own words"

    I think you're confused as to what plagiarism actually is. Summarizing still requires a citation when it comes to plagiarism standards.

    I can't say that I wasn't confused as to what plagiarism was when I first got started and this is why anyone who is going to write ANYTHING for a living should take a freshman level writing class at the local community college, even if not degree seeking. This one class is the most valuable class any human could possibly take.

    Chris Elliott
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  • Profile picture of the author mccflo99
    Blogrev,

    That's the right way to do it. Giving credit where credit is due. That's how to avoid plagiarism.

    Chris Elliott
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