1. JetBlackGT
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    JetBlackGT Contributing Member

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    When using lines from someone else's work...

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by JetBlackGT, Mar 23, 2013.

    Is it enough to simply quote/cite them in a bibliography or do you need written/verbal permission to "borrow" sections from their work?

    There is a scene, that was so funny I thought I'd die from laughing, in a Terry Pratchett book. I'd really like to be able to incorporate that into some of my writing, almost verbatim.
     
  2. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    Especially for this purpose, you'd need permission from Terry Pratchett.
     
  3. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Why would you want to copy someone else's work into your own? Granted, imitation is the greatest form of flattery, but why not focus on creating something of your own?
     
  4. NigeTheHat
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    NigeTheHat Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you're going to try and get this story published - either trad or self, though I find it hard to believe a trad publisher would want it with a copied scene - then you'll need permission from the rights holder, which is probably either Terry himself or his publisher. Don't hold your breath on them saying yes. You'd also need to not mind that anyone who's read the original will think you've stolen the idea.

    If you're just writing for fun and it's not going any further than a couple of friends, then just use what you like. It's still plagiarism, but not in a way any rights-holder is going to care about. Personally if I'm writing a story I'd like to have actually written the whole story, but whatever toasts your muffin.
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Copying from someone else's work is a copyright violation, regardless of how short the extracted portion is. It may not be enforceable in any practical sense for a short excerpt, but it is a copyright violation nevertheless.

    Certain elements, primarily titles, are exempt from copyright protection. Single words cannot be copyrighted - there has to be an act of construction for a work to be copyrighted (it does, however, beg the question of created "words" like supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, but that's for the lawyers to haggle over. They would probably defer it to trademark law).

    If you copy someone else's work, you must have written permission from the copyright owner. If your work contains a coincidental duplication of someone else's writing, you could still find yourself in court; if you have never had access to that person's work, you are innocent of copyright violation, but it would be difficult to prove either way. The court (or jury) is likely to find in favor of the preponderance of evidence, with a possible bias toward or against a famous plaintiff.

    Now, I'm no lawyer - I have a soul :) - but the laws are generally pretty fair. From a moral standpoint, don't steal. Even if no one else can prove it, you will know your guilt - or innocence.
     
  6. Fullmetal Xeno
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    Fullmetal Xeno Protector of Literature Contributor

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    I don't know why you would want to "take" stuff from other peoples work and put them into your work, cause technically that's plagiarism. But even with permission, that's simply taboo for me as a writer. I like to take inspiration from something and create something new out of it. I'm not saying you can't ask for permission or anything, but why, if you mind asking, would you want that in your book? Just for the sake of the humor?

    Forgive me if i come as slightly evasive, i just find this hard to understand why people want to do things like this.
     
  7. Xatron
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    Xatron Contributing Member

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    If you want to quote a sentence someone wrote, you can do it by attributing it to him, eg:
    As Einstein said, "insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results"
    But to incorporate an entire scene from someone else's work you would need to have their express permission (in writing on a legal document) and even then you will have a very hard time getting published. Few publishers would publish a book they would have to market as "A Terry Pratchett rip-off".
     

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