In a world where every information can be found on the internet, it is almost impossible to come up with your ideas without out-sourcing some of them. Whatever you are thinking about, there is a possibility that someone had thought about it before. So the next best thing that you can do is incorporate someone else’s ideas into your own. But see there, that is a problem too. The ideas are not entirely yours. When you use other people’s ideas without their express permission, it amounts to plagiarism.
According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, to “plagiarize” means:
- to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one’s own
- to use (another’s production) without crediting the source
- to commit literary theft
- to present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source
Stealing is illegal and as bloggers, we may find ourselves on the wrong side of the law after using someone else’s work without their express permission. Keeping that in mind, how do we ensure that we do not plagiarize?
Get information from multiple sources– sometimes when we are researching, we might find everything that we are looking for on a single book or a single webpage and often times we source our information in these single pages. It is easy to plagiarize when your get information from one source. Try and get your information from several different sources.
Attribute– When you use someone else’s ideas, make sure you credit the original author. Ideas could be music, photos, and poems and so on. Put links where necessary especially if it is a web page , cite the page and paragraph if it is a book and write the name of the artist if it is a painting, photograph or music lyrics. Also if possible, as permission from the owners before using their work.
Voice– there some texts when you read, you will know automatically who wrote that piece, Obama’s messages of hope, Patrick Lumumba’s big words, these are unique to them. This is called a voice. Voices are personal. They show one’s personality and unless you are out of this world or downright awesome (an am saying this sparingly), it is hard to copy someone’s personality. As a writer, use this to your advantage. Put your personality on paper. It will go a long way in protecting your work from being plagiarized.
Use work that is in public domain– Public domain work is work that has no copyright, work that was created without a licence or work whose copyright has expired. There are lots of work on the internet whose work is in public domain like Jane Austen books, charlotte Bronte and Shakespeare. In most countries, copyrighted materials’ become public domain 50-70 years after the death of the owner depending on the materials. So, technically using these materials does not result in plagiarism.
Plagiarism is a serious crime in the literary word. Ensure that as a blogger, you do not get caused in the cross fire of legal battles when it is discovered that your work is copied. Be original but if you need more information to boost you work, you now know what to do. Yes? Good.