Transmitting Ideas

Ideas about using non-violent resistance to enact change have passed from one individual to another.

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When researching a topic, you may want to use information from articles, books, or websites to support your ideas. Building off of another person’s work, rebutting substantiated arguments, and relaying facts and figures are excellent ways to strengthen your papers; however, you must credit the original author for their intellectual contribution. Compiling a bibliography and citing your sources is the accepted means to credit authorship, and it allows your readers to trace what information you use. This process allows us to build upon pre-existing ideas and knowledge without muddling who said what.



Merriam-Webster defines copyright in their Concise Encyclopedia as:

Exclusive right to reproduce, publish, or sell an original work of authorship. It protects from unauthorized copying any published or unpublished work that is fixed in a tangible medium (including a book or manuscript, musical score or recording, script or dramatic production, painting or sculpture, or blueprint or building). It does not protect matters such as an idea, process, or system. Protection in the U.S. now extends for the life of the creator plus 70 years after his or her death. (“Copyright,” n.d.)


Copyright ensures that the creators are compensated for their intellectual property, no matter the media they choose. If there were no copyright protection, there would be no economic incentive to create these works!

Thus, most information is protected by copyright, the exception being that within the realm of public domain. Public domain allows its works to be reproduced or used by anyone; however, you still must credit the author. Some examples of public domain sources are:

Publications of the U.S. Government constitution U.S. laws and other publications of the Federal government, the U.S. Constitution
Copyright has been waived by the author. Software called freeware
Works on which the copyright has expired shakespeare Works by William Shakespeare


What happens when you take credit for someone else’s work?


Copyright. (n.d.). In Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary (11th ed.). Retrieved from

Images: ©Vithalbhai Jhaveri/ GandhiServe, Courtesy of The Thoreau Society, Lincoln, MA, MLK courtesy WMU Archives & Regional History.

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