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The fastest path to writerly self-destruction -- be it a brief or a blog posting -- is to label someone else's work as your own.

Even with the advent of Creative Commons, a "nonprofit that offers a flexible copyright for creative work," basically creating an open-source environment for art of all kinds, it's amazing how many people are sloppy or even scurrilous about tucking someone else's work anonymously into their own.

J. Craig Williams, a former reporter turned litigator, offers this guide to legal writers keen to watchdog their own behavior:

"If you're going to copy someone else's work, provide credit. What's the format? Try this one out: Who, What, Where and When. List the author, the title of the author's work, the location (easy to do on the Web with hyperlinks) and when the work was published. That information should pass even the toughest muster. Sometimes, blogging is original ideas. Sometimes, it's commentary on someone else's ideas or news source. When you comment or copy, cite. It's that simple."

And when mistakes are made, as you shuffle papers and notes and e-mails and text files? Broadcast credit where credit is due, e.g., by following Williams' example from the National Law Journal. More here.

Posted by Product Team on February 28, 2005 at 06:35 PM | Permalink | TrackBack (0)


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