This article (originally part of the writing course I ran at the local polytechnic and developed about twenty years ago into our original and hugely popular Eagle Productions online creative writing course) was written for the “OFFLINE and real world” here in New Zealand and the United Kingdom… well before I knew about the “amazing intricate mysteries of the net”. However, I believe, the principles should also be applied (perhaps not so stringently) to the “Wild West of cyberspace”. (That’s a metaphor, by the way!). The article covers general principles of copyright and may also be applied world-wide in writing for the www, “metinks”…

Publishing on the world wide web (writing articles on your field of expertise is a most effective form of internet marketing, incidentally!) is very different to the “real world”. In the online “wild west culture” standard copyright rules are far harder to enforce, as the subject of copyright is constantly evolving and rapidly changing, like the “net” itself. It appears that on the www virtually “anything goes” with many varied opinions and it’s very hard to get common rulings and agreement on this complex issue.

My advice would be to apply the same “strict” rules regarding copyright, when writing online as offline, as I’ll try to explain in this article.

With these guidelines we can all do our bit to bring some order into the “lawlessness” prevalent in copying other people’s work on the www. By following these guidelines, I’m sure no-one will be able to criticise “sqeaky clean you”.

After that “rather rambling rose pre-amble”, enough said…

Only joking! Here is my article…


What is copyright? No one can reproduce your work without your permission – not even a personal letter. How much of a writer’s work can be legitimately used? A poem of 40-50 words is generally considered to be OK. Usually one is not allowed to copy substantial amounts of another writer’s work without their express permission.

* But then what is meant by the word “substantial”? It is widely open to interpretation and opens up a literary and legal “minefield” (that’s a metaphor, by the way!).

Although, there are no hard and firm guidelines about the rule of copy- right. The following is a rough ‘rule of thumb’:

You can take approximately 300 words from a book or any other lengthy work of writing. You can also quote 150 words from a magazine article. Fifty (50) words quoted from a newspaper article is generally considered to be “fair use” without requiring either permission or a fee. Copyright lasts 50 years after your death.

You can use what is termed ‘fair dealing’ in writing reports, or research material and/or book reviews. I always advise acknowledging sources in your reference section.

for the full article see Copyright | Craig’s Writing Articles





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