SPECTRUM Policies on Copyright Infringement and Plagiarism

As a SPECTRUM member, content producer, contributor, guest or any other contributor or user on the SPECRUM website or its affiliated services, you agree that you will refrain from any and all acts of copyright infringement, plagiarism, and other violations of intellectual property law while you are using this website.

When you respect the copyrighted works of others, you help ensure that others will respect and protect your rights.

Copyright infringement is "the unauthorized use of copyrighted material in a manner that violates one of the copyright owner's exclusive rights, such as the right to reproduce or perform the copyrighted work, or to make derivative works that build upon it." (Wikipedia)  Most original writings and art (books, magazine articles, news stories, online writings, photographs, drawings, clipart, etc.) are protected by copyright. Works created during the past thirty years are protected by copyright automatically, even if they do not contain a copyright notice!

It is unlawful to "copy and paste" a magazine article, news story, tutorial or other writings (whether published in print or online) unless you have the copyright owner's permission to do so, or you own the material yourself. Similarly, it is illegal to use copyrighted images, even small clipart drawings, unless you have permission or own the work yourself. When dealing with copyright law, the saying "ignorance of the law is no excuse" applies. Even an honest mistake (for example, "I didn't know the material was copyrighted!") may subject an infringer to criminal prosecution and civil lawsuits.

To lawfully use copyrighted writings or artwork, you must have permission from the copyright owner. Although it is not required, you should always obtain the copyright holder's consent in writing for your own protection and to avoid misunderstandings. Often, the author or artist who created the work owns the copyright, but sometimes a publishing firm or other third party may own the rights. Before you can use copyrighted material in your own work, you must locate and contact the copyright owner and explain what material you wish to use and exactly how you propose to use it. The owner may say "No" or might authorize the use, perhaps for a fee, and often subject to certain restrictions. You must follow every condition to the tee.

Plagiarism is not a crime; but it is an "intellectual offense" that can have serious personal and economic repercussions.

Plagiarism is "the use of another's ideas, information, language, or writing, when done without proper acknowledgment of the original source." (Wikipedia)  It differs from copyright infringement in the sense that an author might pass off a quote or a short bit of original material as their own without attributing the true author. Plagiarism is not a crime and won't result in criminal prosecution, but it is an "intellectual offense" which may undermine an author's or expert's credibility and lead to scandal, loss of employment, and other serious personal and economic consequences.

Fair Use is a legal doctrine under which you can make very limited use of some copyrighted material in certain situations. For example, you can usually use short quotations from a copyrighted work as long as you cite the author's name and source of the material. You are free to refer to copyrighted works, describe them in your own words, review or analyze them, offer your opinions, and provide links to such writings and images, as long as you do not falsely claims the materials as your own.

Public domain is a legal term that refers to works which are not protected by copyright. This includes many works published prior to the 1930s, and most material published by the U.S. Government using taxpayer funds. From time to time, you may come across a website where an author or creator of an image declares "I release this material to the public domain" or something to that effect. You can freely use public domain material without permission from anyone, but you must still credit the source.

If you are in doubt about the copyright status of a work or whether you can use it, do not use it!

In all writings and other content that you post on the SPECTRUM website and any of our affiliated services, you agree to respect the copyrights and trademarks of others. All material that you post must be your own original work, must not contain any copyrighted material unless you have written permission to use it (and you have provided us with documentation), and any content used under Fair Use or Public Domain doctrines must be appropriately cited and attributed to the original source.

Any act of copyright infringement or plagiarism will result in immediate and permanent termination of privileges on this website. If you are in doubt about the copyright status of material or whether you can lawfully use excerpts from such material, err on the side of caution and do not use it. If you have questions about these policies, please Contact Us


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