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English 357: Editing and Publishing

Citation and Plagiarism for Students and Other Academic Writers

Attribution   --->   Citation/Plagiarism

  • Extremely important for academic work; a foundation of academic culture and practice ("building on the work of others")
  • Importance of knowing what to cite, i.e. concepts that are "common knowledge" don't have to be cited, but what is "common knowledge?"
  • Must understand the difference between a quotation and a paraphrase and how to cite each
  • Citations should be linked to specific content cited
  • Must properly cite creator of sources (text, data, graphics (photographs, charts, collages, etc.), etc. in appropriate and accepted style (i.e. APA, MLA, etc.)
  • Also important in the Real World!!!


Permission ---> Copyright

  • If use does not fall under the doctrine of Fair Use, permission from the rights holder must be obtained to use a work.
  • Using things without permission from the rights-holder can result in lawsuits and the paying of damages
  • And can hurt your reputation big time!

Copyright and Fair Use

In general, students learn more about citation and plagiarism than they do about copyright. This is because of Fair Use, which is generally held to cover most student work from being sued for copyright infringement. However, even for student work, issues of permission have to be considered.

Fair Use sometimes will cover commercial, for-profit use of copyrighted material without permission, but it is generally harder to make a case under Fair Use, with some exceptions, i.e. quoting from a book that is being reviewed in a publication.

Copyright Infringement in the Real World

And sooooooo many other examples!

Finding Works You Can Use: Getting Permission

Finding Works You Can Use: Creative Commons

Finding Works You Can Use: The Public Domain

What is the Public Domain? And Why is 2019 Significant?

  • In 1998 the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act extended copyright terms so that copyright of authorized works (books, short stories, scholarly articles, newspaper and magazine articles, plays, movies, poems, artworks, ads, etc.) was extended significantly for authors and corporate authors.           #MickeyMouse
  • This created a 20-year period (1998-2018) where no copyrighted works came into the public domain unless it was granted by the rights-holder (not necessarily the author/creator).
  • On January 1, 2019, copyrighted works published in 1923 came into the public domain. On 1/1/20, it will be works published in 1924 and so on, until 2073. (Note: Some works published between 1923 and 1963 are already out of copyright because the rights-holder did not have copyright renewed under provisions of previous law.  There are databases via Stanford & Duke where you can check on this)

After January 1, 2074, all works will become public domain 70 years after the death of the rights-holder, 120 years for a corporate author.

What Can You Do with Works in the Public Domain?

  • Read them
  • Republish and sell them (Note: freely available works can be sold through multiple sites, even if available for free. Sometimes they have improved functionality, but sometimes it's a cash grab.)
  • Reuse them
  • Remix them
    • Write sequels, plays or musicals, illustrate them, turn them into a "Choose your own adventure", or anything else!
  • Translate them
  • Sell fan fiction based on the work (you can write fan fiction on work in copyright, under fair use guidelines, but not sell it)
  • Whatever you like!


  • Other countries may have different copyright laws in effect (it's complicated)
  • Works originally published in 1923, but re-issued in newer editions later that add value (translations, illustrations) will not be in public domain

An example: The Public Domain Review


Where Can you Find Public Domain Resources?

  • WSU is a member of the HathiTrust Digital Library – you can find items published in 1923 in the new “1923 Collection -- and much more. This includes magazines like The Strand (Sherlock Holmes & other British stuff), The Atlantic, Harpers, and much more!
  • The Internet Archive – 1923 date filter
  • Project Gutenberg (No 1923 filter)
  • Google Books (No 1923 filter)

Learn more about the public domain at Duke University’s Center for the Study of the Public Domain.

Intellectual Property Resources (Citation and Copyright)

WSU Libraries, PO Box 645610, Washington State University, Pullman WA 99164-5610, 509-335-9671, Contact Us