Wednesday, May 26, 2010

What a Rip!

The appearance of another of my funny anecdotes lifted from my book without permission and circulated by mass e-mail this week without any attribution whatsoever prompts me to reprint passages from Grit for the Oyster: 250 Pearls of Wisdom for Aspiring Writers.

These excerpts are from my chapter, "Excavating Ethics."

"I fear that the general public and we writers are woefully uneducated about copyright infringements. Amy Cook, Writer's Digest legal expert, states that 'Original stories, poems and quotes are all copyrighted materials, whether they exist on a piece of paper or a computer screen. If you don't get permission from the people who hold the rights, then you're stealing their material.'

"Writers new to the field need to make themselves aware of the pitfalls and dangers of sloppy literary license. We may steal rights without even realizing it. Christians, in keeping with our goal to lead others to Christ by our living example, should hold the bar high in the realm of moral standards. "

"Written material on the web is not considered public domain. Using a reasonably sized quote is acceptable, but the source must be cited. Even paraphrased thoughts should include attribution so that the reader is not deceived into believing the thought is original."

So for crying out loud, let's not "borrow" material without giving proper attribution to the author, and the next time we pass on seeimingly harmless forwards of cute little stories with no mention of who wrote them, remember they had to come from somewhere.