There’s an old adage that says, “There is nothing new under the sun.” In other words, everything that you’re doing now has probably been done before by somebody somewhere. Even your freshest, most creative idea is often built on the foundation of what you’ve learned from others.
As Expert Authors, this raises a sticky question: When is it okay to borrow another Author’s words, put them in an article and then call the article your own?
If you follow our Editorial Guidelines, you know that we will not accept articles that are ripped (aka “borrowed”) in whole or part from another author. However, we know that there are times when including a few lines from somebody else helps to set the stage or add credibility to your article. In those cases, limit that content to only 2-3 lines maximum in your article and be sure to give credit to the original author.
Ideally, all content must be original and offer your unique expertise. No one evaluates life and your industry experience like you do. Revere your uniqueness.
When in doubt, don’t use any part of the article content of others.
To be clear, I’m not talking about using a single sentence quote that reinforces your message. That’s usually ok. I’m talking about not including full sentences or paragraphs of the works of others. Just because something is or isn’t in the public domain, doesn’t mean you have the right to rip it.
If you’re new to the concept of FAIR USE DOCTRINE or the limitations on what is and isn’t fair use, study section 107. Every writer should know the concept of what is and isn’t “fair use” at some point in your writing lifetime.
Even if you are clear by the letter of the law under FAIR USE doctrine, doesn’t mean we’ll accept your article. We usually look for intent and appropriate use. The acid test: Do we believe the rights holder of the content you’re using will feel like their rights are infringed on? If so, reject.
It’s one thing to use content of others under FAIR USE when blogging or posting in a format that isn’t syndicatable, but when your articles go into distribution that you can’t easily control the syndication, you have an added responsibility to NOT include the content of others in your articles.
Lastly, if you are going to post your articles elsewhere on the web, we recommend that you add your name to the content to help with your credibility and make it easier for our editors to determine who owns the content (because we do look each time). I’m continuously amazed how many expert authors post their articles on their own website and FAIL to include THEIR NAME on their own articles. This is a red flag for us because it tells us that they are ASHAMED of their content so much that they won’t include their name on it or they didn’t really write it in the first place.