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Chapter 5 Copyrights Previously Published Works and Using Quotations

Chapter five topics
  • History of Copyright in the United States
  • Copyrights: History of Copyright in the United States
  • E-Filing Copyrights
  • Newspaper Copyrights
  • Database of Copyrights
  • Website Copyright
  • The Cyberlaw Encyclopedia
  • Termination of Copyrights
  • Citing Your Sources
  • Law Freedom of Information Act
  • Getting Quotations
  • Megasources For Finding Experts to Quote
Every writer needs to know and understand Copyrights. United States Copyright Office official site, and the history of US Copyrights,
Check this link, Cornell Copyright Information Center,, it clearly defines what works are now public domain, by year.
Several private websites explain US copyright law. These are two of the best I've found:
  1. Brad Templeton's "10 Big Myths about copyright explained,"
  2. Alan Gahtan's, The Cyberlaw Encyclopedia, Be sure to refer to their Terms of Use.
Copyrights and publishing Letters,

E-Filing for copyright is cheap and easy, should you choose to go that route. Visit the website for details, The site has an on-line tutorial and a FAQ section.
Newspaper copyrights
Everything in the newspaper is copyrighted. None of it -- except the actual information -- is public domain. There is a legal reason to not plagrize a newspaper. The paper *probably* won't do anything about it if you make copies to hand to your group, but if you take one of their articles and resell it as your own, I bet they would find you quick. They can -- and would be more than willing -- to do something about it.

It is considered unethical to plagarize newspapers. What is not copyrightable is the actual news -- the facts. You can read a news article in the paper, and reword it, using them as your only source, and be perfectly legal. It's sloppy, but legal. But if you use their lead, organization, format, and conclusion, you're plagarizing.

Newspapers, magazines, books, newsletters, brochures, those little flyers you pick up in the doctor's office ~~ if it's written down, it's copyrighted.

Database of copyrights
Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, University of TX web site contains a link to WATCH File, The WATCH File (Writers, Artists, and Their Copyright Holders) is a database containing primarily, but not exclusively, the names and addresses of copyright holders or contact persons for authors and artists whose archives are housed, in whole or in part, in libraries and archives in North America and the United Kingdom.

Tip: You'll find useful information regarding copyrights and holders by exploring all of the links. Answers to questions here,

Website copyright
Laws protect website graphics, content, everything, from being used without permission. Study the Cyberlaw Encyclopedia,

Termination of copyrights
Copyright Termination: How Authors (and their Heirs) Can Recapture their pre-1978 Copyrights,  by Lloyd J. Jassin,

Copyrights and derivative works
When you wonder if revising and or excerpting original works changes copyrights read Ivan Hoffman's excellent article on the subject,

Ivan wrote that in part US Copyright law states, a “derivative work” is a work based upon one or more preexisting works, such as a translation, musical arrangement, dramatization, fictionalization, motion picture version, sound recording, art reproduction, abridgment, condensation, or any other form in which a work may be recast, transformed, or adapted. A work consisting of editorial revisions, annotations, elaborations, or other modifications, which, as a whole, represent an original work of authorship, is a “derivative work”.

Read Ivan's entire article for the rest of the legalities involved in a derivative work.

Using previously published works
Citing your sources ~~ Research and Documentation Online is a guide to using Internet sources. Citation styles is one of the many useful links you'll find,

Law and the Freedom of Information Act
Freedom of Information Act is a federal law that applies only to federal executive agencies and has no jurisdiction over state or local agencies, Congress or the courts. In case you aren't familiar with this Act, which can come in extremely handy when some government clerk isn't too cooperative when you're doing research, here's the Freedom of Information Act site where you can learn your rights to government information,

In many states such as Montana, access to government records is governed by state law and the state's constitution. For more on state law, I would advise you to visit a specific portion of the University of Montana's School of Journalism website,

While there, you might also want to keep current by clicking Articles \ Trends \ and then read Tweet Responsibility, written by Troy Warzocha,

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press has the entire text of the Freedom of Information Act on its website,, as well as a guide for using the act. You'll find the text at, There you'll also find the Open Government Guide, a complete compendium of information on every state's open records and open meetings laws, organized alphabetically by states,

Also, the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) site, includes the text of the 1996 electronic amendments to the FOIA. Click, Freedom of Information to find links to what you want to know. Self-Help Law Center,, Your legal companion, where you'll find a multitude of answers.

Tip: Remember, websites that do not end in .org are not government sites They're private websites.

Getting quotations
Question: How does a new writer get quotes? If I'm writing an article for instance on ear infections, do I call my own doctor and get his\her quote so I have a professional? Do I call the University and talk to the medical staff?

When approaching experts you want to make them as comfortable as possible.
  • Tell them who you are
  • Where you got their name
  • What you are doing
Outline the questions you want answered. Ask them if they have any other comments, and be sure to thank them for their time. You should also ask for their titles and association \ organization name so you'll be able to credit them properly.

Megasources for finding experts to quote
Websites where you can get in touch with experts to quote:
Ryerson University:

Typing Find experts in the search box brought a page full of resource links. The Faculty Experts link brings you here,

Finding Answers, by Ryerson University Emeritus Professor, Dean Tudor,  provides online resources to an enormous variety of pertinent topics, as well as links to publications.

American Society of Association Executives ("ASAE"), brings a "Oh, no sorry ..." message, but don't be dismayed. Click on the provided search to be whisked to,

Click Publications and Resources (top tab.) It will take you to directories of associations, including those that are online. Very useful for contacting sources for articles.

The Yearbook of Experts is available at, Want to find a topic to write about? Click Find Experts (provides experts by topic) then select your topic. You can also search by Participant, and Geography. Ideas are limitless! Read About Us, Site Map brings opportunities to choose your preference to Join.

ProfNet, which you're bound to read about, is a source -- for professionals only. It enables journalists to ask a group of academic, business contacts and other experts for comments on virtually any subject. ProfNet does not welcome queries from amatuers or students,

A Journalist's Guide at Robert site is a great place that will help writers and non-writers alike to find information and data (such as US Census),

Statistics can sometimes tell you as much as your human sources. Start at, Be sure to scroll down to Finding Data on the Internet.

Use this resource to search out published works, Online Books Page,

Xpress Press News Service hosts a e-mail free service, Press Query, for reporters looking for public relations professionals, information officers, authors and expert sources, Click For Journalists and Subscribe (it's free.) Queries are sent within a few hours of receipt during business hours (9 - 6 EST). Follow the directions at the site to send your request.

Ask An Expert Sources offers useful, catergorized links,
One of the newer resources is HARO (Help A Reporter Out), Read about it at, And scroll to the bottom for useful, current links.

Rebeca, a member of InternetWritingWorkshop,, explained,
"It's a tool for publicists to get in touch with reporters who have specific story queries. But if you're a freelance writer who needs sources for a story, you can post your query and be flooded by publicists' emails. HARO operates in the same way as PROFNET, but it's more user-friendly."
Now, get started ~~ develop your topic and get expert quotes!

  1. Get a quote from an online source for a real or imagined story.
  2. Make the proper source citation in a real or imagined story.

Advice FromThe Pros,

3-1, Copyright Infringements and Abstracts: ht

3-2, Publishing letters:

3-3, Critiquing How-To:

3-4, Interviewing to Write Profiles:

3-5, Quoting Quotes:

Next, Chapter 6 - Permissions:

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