Moral, Legal and Proper Quotes or Citations

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Ok, I am learning to modify my sensibilities a bit.

According to Wikipedia (US) I learn that:

UK copyright law has a set of exceptions to copyright known as fair dealing. Database right has a similar set of exceptions. Fair dealing is much more restricted than the American concept of fair use . It only applies in tightly defined situations, and outside those situations it is no defence [Brit. spelling] at all against a lawsuit for copyright (or database right) infringement.

s29.—(1) Fair dealing with a literary, dramatic, musical, etc, work, for the purpose of research for a non-commercial purpose, does not infringe any copyright in the work, provided it is accompanied by a sufficient acknowledgment of the source.
s30.—(1) Fair dealing with a work for the purpose of criticism or review, of that or another work, or of a performance of a work, does not infringe copyright in the work, provided it is accompanied by a sufficient acknowledgment, and provided the work has actually been made available to the public.

Copyright fair dealing with a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work is most often encountered in the context of research or private study. Under the 1988 Act, it was originally the case that any research use was fair dealing. However, in 2003, the 1988 Act was amended to exclude commercial use from the definition of fair dealing. Fair dealing for research should be accompanied by acknowledgment if this is possible. Fair dealing with the typographical arrangement of a work for the use in research or private study is also explicitly allowed.

Bracketed and linked information is added for clarification.

On h2g2 I am labeled a “researcher.” Do I have standing as such under s29.-(1) UK law? If so, are my “Guide Entries ” considered research for a non-commercial purpose under that same law? Is the above quote plagiarism or a "proper" research reference? There is no intent to claim copyright of that quote on my part. The source of the above quote put the information there to be freely re-used. Are the h2g2guidelines a reflection of these issues?

I also learn that university students in the UK are told not to cite encyclopedias as creditable references. Should I cite where I learned that? There are legal aspects to this subject, moral aspects, and also practical concerns.

When I went to school, “common knowledge” did not need to include citations in academic work. It was explicitly stated that “common knowledge” included encyclopedic knowledge, but certainly encyclopedias were respected as professionally edited for content.

The fact is that the world changes. Law changes, but the Law is unable to keep up with real world changes. Technology has served to exacerbate these problems.

The very concept that Knowledge itself should be free implies that such Knowledge should be re-usable. The Wikipedia effort holds the potential of becoming a vast repository of knowledge, albeit imperfect knowledge. Many of the textbooks I used were found to have erroneous information. Theory was pasted off as fact. The point is that “encyclopedic” knowledge is becoming quite ubiquitous but I still believe there is a need for proper citations.

You need not hold a degree in Rhetoric to argue the right of any free person to learn and think for themselves. In fact, it could be argued that government of any free society needs the informed [or knowledgeable] consent of the populace as opposed to the archaic idea of the divine right of kings or queens. Times change. Ideas change. History will make an imperfect record of events. For that reason, History will be re-written.

Implicit in the changes we grope with today are the changes fostered by the internet, of which h2g2 is the point of this conversation.

I am not herein promoting any particular direction for h2g2 . A newcomer has a unique perspective to offer. That view is not clouded over by callous disregard for what has gone before. Oops, that did not come out quite right. The newcomer does not suffer from having been pricked too many times by some small [perhaps important] problem. The newcomer has not built up a comfort level using awkward workarounds for outdated legal issues. I also fully respect that such observations must be filtered by senior persons who have the above issues but also the benefit of wisdom from the bigger picture. A more junior person could not have such wisdom. I am willing to ride in an imperfect vehicle to get to my destination, but not in a vehicle I know to have faulty brakes.

I also acknowledge that what I think to be “right” might not be universally right, and I do not own a laurel in universal knowledge. There is some h2g2 acknowledgment of the fact that h2g2 is now a world wide community, albeit English speaking community.

What should I understand to be proper in this world wide community regarding moral, legal and proper quotes or citations?


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