Plagiarism FAQ

Can I Use Other People's Stuff?

  • I exect a substantial piece of your work to be original content, written from scratch by you

  • You may use content from elswhere if it is

    • Clearly marked with where it came from

    • Legal and ethical for you to use

What Kinds of Content Are A Problem?

  • Source code

  • Documentation

  • Images

  • Sounds

  • Fonts

How Do I Mark Stuff I've Used?

  • For source code: put a comment in the code with a URL

  • For substantial source code: also put a note in the README with a URL

  • For other kinds of stuff: put a note in the README with a URL

How Do I Know What I Can Safely Use?

  • You can use anything that you have a license for that allows use in an open source project

  • Usually this means an OSI-approved open source license or a Creative Commons license

  • Without a license you cannot use it!

What Happens If I Use Other People's Stuff Without Saying So?

  • You will almost certainly be caught

  • I will give you an F on the project — which is an F for the course

  • I will write up a Student Conduct Code report and turn it in to the Office of Academic Affairs

  • If you appeal, it will be to Office of Academic Affairs: there will be nothing further I can do

  • Because of this, begging me or getting angry with me or whatever will be pointless. I won't be willing to talk to you about it

What About "Minor" Infractions?

  • Small accidents sometimes happen. I understand this, and am not concerned

  • Use of large amounts of stuff without saying where it came from is not an accident

  • I have had students turn in as their own work: whole projects with someone else's copyright notice on them; tutorials with just the project name changed; other folks' open source repos they didn't even understand

    This kind of stuff makes me want to quit teaching. Please don't make me cry. Please don't do it. Tell everyone where your stuff came from

I Come From A Culture Where Use Without Attribution Is OK…

  • In US academic culture and in the international Open Source culture, use without saying where you got stuff is not OK

  • You must live by the rules of the culture you are in now — no excuses

Why Do You Care So Much?

  • In both the Open Source community and in the academic community, acknowledgement for the work creators do is super-important to them

  • If you want to be hated in either / both communities forever, get caught claiming creators' stuff as your own

  • This also spills onto me and onto Portland State: people will assume that PSU and I are OK with this. We are not

Last modified: Tuesday, 11 August 2020, 1:57 AM