Plagiarism & Copyright Infringement Discussion

Mark Meer

Trusted Information Resource
#1
Hi Covers!

Just wanted to start a general discussion thread regarding plagiarism and copyright infringement, specifically when it comes to developing Quality System documents.

In particular, some points of discussion that come to mind:
- When quoting from standards, how much can be quoted? For example, I've seen company compliance or audit "checklists" that quote nearly all clauses in a standard. Is this acceptable, as long a the document isn't shared?

- Similarly, when writing Quality System documents: I've seen Quality Manuals that have requirements pulled pretty much verbatim from the ISO9001 standard. Is this considered plagiarism?

- When we quote clauses from copyrighted standards in these forums, is this acceptable? Some resourceful person could probably re-create most of the ISO 9001 standard by gathering up the quoted clauses...

- When another company's documents are obtained legitimately (e.g. through FCC, FDA or under freedom of information act), what are the restrictions on its use? For example, if I like the concise format of a 510k submission, can I copy the format?

- (Medical Device Specific) If the indications for use and contraindications for a device are the same as that of a predicate, is it acceptable to copy the statements from the predicate company? Or must they be re-worded?


Anyway, as always, looking forward to feedback and discussion! :popcorn:


P.S. Not exactly sure what forum this discussion would best belong to...moderators, feel free to re-locate as appropriate...
 
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Marc

Hunkered Down for the Duration
Staff member
Admin
#2
Hi Covers!

Just wanted to start a general discussion thread regarding plagiarism and copyright infringement, specifically when it comes to developing Quality System documents.

In particular, some points of discussion that come to mind:
- When quoting from standards, how much can be quoted? For example, I've seen company compliance or audit "checklists" that quote nearly all clauses in a standard. Is this acceptable, as long a the document isn't shared?
I have never heard of a problem doing this. Once, some years back, the AIAG did complain to me in an email that there were forms that people made and posted here that were nearly identical to their forms. I wrote back that the reality is companies regularly "copy" AIAG forms for their use. I asked if that was any less of an issue. I never heard back from them.

See the forum Copyright discussions here: Elsmar Cove Forum TOS and Forum Policies

- Similarly, when writing Quality System documents: I've seen Quality Manuals that have requirements pulled pretty much verbatim from the ISO9001 standard. Is this considered plagiarism?
Not so much today, but in the past this was not only common but was typical. I never heard of a complaint by the ISO people.

- When we quote clauses from copyrighted standards in these forums, is this acceptable? Some resourceful person could probably re-create most of the ISO 9001 standard by gathering up the quoted clauses...
Acceptable use applies here for "snippets". If someone wants a copy of a standard all they really have to do is Google (or use Duck Duck) and they can probably find the entire standard. There are "leaks" all over the internet so if you're good at searching...

- When another company's documents are obtained legitimately (e.g. through FCC, FDA or under freedom of information act), what are the restrictions on its use? For example, if I like the concise format of a 510k submission, can I copy the format?
I can't definitively, but personally I have no problem copying a form or template another company uses. Typically there are going to be at least minor changes in what you make.

- (Medical Device Specific) If the indications for use and contraindications for a device are the same as that of a predicate, is it acceptable to copy the statements from the predicate company? Or must they be re-worded?
I can't help here but my guess is that a slight rewording would be appropriate. Then again, if it is text that is simple and short I don't see why not.
 

John Broomfield

Staff member
Super Moderator
#3
Mark,

I believe this is graduated:

  1. Copying the standard and selling it
  2. Copying the standard and sharing it
  3. Copying more than 50% of the standard and teaching it for a fee
  4. Copying all of it for your quality manual
  5. Buying the standard then copying it for your quality manual
  6. Quoting one or three clauses from the standard
1 thru 4 are probably the wrong side of copyright law.

The rest may be considered 'fair use'.

This completely disregards the fact that we helped write the standards in the first place!

John
 

Mark Meer

Trusted Information Resource
#4
Ah, thanks for the link to other copyright-related discussions.

Curious: Where does the "120 words or less" policy come from? Is this from a regulation, or and arbitrary maximum?

- (Medical Device Specific) If the indications for use and contraindications for a device are the same as that of a predicate, is it acceptable to copy the statements from the predicate company? Or must they be re-worded?
I can't help here but my guess is that a slight rewording would be appropriate. Then again, if it is text that is simple and short I don't see why not.
The intent here is simplifying demonstrating substantial equivalence. It seems the easiest route, if acceptable, would be to have the exact same indications for use, contraindication, warning, etc. statements. Rewording, if necessary, would have to be done with great care to ensure there is no confusion of substantial equivalence claims.
 

Marc

Hunkered Down for the Duration
Staff member
Admin
#5
The 120 words was from reading a few years or so back. If I remember correctly it was in a complaint about Google and there was some consensus that 120 words or less was "acceptable" in meeting the "acceptable use" allowance.

This is a bit off topic, but as we all know, Google is the biggest copyright infringer on the internet. But the 800 pound gorilla "finds a way". That's done using Wikipedia reference-linkDigital_Millennium_Copyright_Act - And not necessarily their search results which are essentially "snippets". Youtube wouldn't be here today if Google had not bought it.

Also see http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/fair-use-rule-copyright-material-30100.html for some thoughts.

As to the forum here, at the bottom of each page is a link: Elsmar Cove Web Site and Forum Privacy Policy and Copyright Information

Currently, 120 words is less of an issue when putting in a link to, and acknowledging, the source of the copy/pasted text/graphic as long as it's not the entire "document", or a majority of it. See John's post above. I'm not sure where he got his numbers but they are essentially how I interpret it in most situations even unrelated to the standard.

I have long had a policy here that is explained in the link. Everything in the forum here, or on the site in general, is "Copy Free". I do appreciate an acknowledgement of the source and/or link when people copy and paste from here, but I don't require it, nor do I look for stuff copied from here (but I have seen a lot of it over the years).

Back to the medical device IFU's, again - I can only share my opinion. I have no significant background in copyright issues, not to mention IFUs.

As a last personal comment, I'm totally against copyrights and patents that last over 7 years. I think they inhibit real innovation. Even Mickey Mouse, so coveted by Disney Inc., is a character Walt Disney "borrowed" in the early days of comics. Over the years Walt changed and "improved" the image of Mickey as we see "him" today, but Mickey probably wouldn't have been here if the people he had copied from back then had nailed him on copyright infringement. But think about it - How many ways can someone draw a cartoon mouse...
 

Mark Meer

Trusted Information Resource
#6
Marc,
I can definitely see how these concerns complicate the maintenance of a forum such as this.

If someone, for example, takes a copyrighted form, modifies it minimally (or not at all - just transcribes), then posts it here stating "here's a form I created...feel free to use!", are you responsible? It seems ridiculous that you should be expected to identify that posted content is copied from a copyrighted source...

This is a bit off topic, but as we all know, Google is the biggest copyright infringer on the internet. But the 800 pound gorilla "finds a way". That's done using Digital Millennium Copyright Act - And not necessarily their search results which are essentially "snippets". Youtube wouldn't be here today if Google had not bought it.
Interesting assertion. Can you elaborate on why Google is a copyright infringer, or why YouTube would be in danger if not under the Google umbrella?

As a last personal comment, I'm totally against copyrights and patents that last over 7 years.
Curious how this works for "revisions". Does it circumvent patent/copyright expiration? For example, if Disney creates a "new-and-improved" Mickey Mouse, is this treated as a whole new character, or is it just expanding on the copyrighted qualities of the original character?

Complicated subject... I guess I have lots of reading to do...
 

Mark Meer

Trusted Information Resource
#7
As a last personal comment, I'm totally against copyrights and patents that last over 7 years. I think they inhibit real innovation.
Also as an aside personal comment, I've often felt it a great loss to the world in general that there must be uncountable resources collecting dust and doomed to be forever forgotten, due only to copyright.
How many books that are no longer in print would have readers if made freely available?
How many old documentaries are doomed to the archives, where likely no one will ever watch them again?

Seems a terrible shame...
 

kgott

Quite Involved in Discussions
#8
We have a consultant safety person working here and I discussed this matter with him and he said that concensus of opinion around the traps in safety was 'we if it advances safety, there's no problem."

Plagiarism goes on a lot in safety and at the end of the day there is only so many ways one can say the same things. When clients demand that the contractors documentation 'aligns' with theirs and meets their 'expectations' there is a limited number of ways a procedure can be written without there being some duplication.

One one job, our project safety plan had to align with the clients and after 3-4 goes and some capricious remarks from the client about our commitment to safety, I simply took their project plan, replaced their name with ours and hay presto, it got accepted on first presentation.

So here we have an large international mining company encouraging plagiarism.
 

Marc

Hunkered Down for the Duration
Staff member
Admin
#9
I'll answer this...
<snip> Can you elaborate on why Google is a copyright infringer, or why YouTube would be in danger if not under the Google umbrella? <snip>
Just take Justin Beiber (sp?) - He did a Youtube with music that was copyrighted. He didn't have permission to use it. He ended up with a fortune starting with Youtube views. I have a lot of Youtube vidios saved to disk here that have since been taken down. Google is rich. They bought Youtube and promoted it. Just do some searches and you'll se that Google is almost always being attacked by someone, a company, or even a country for copyright issues. Google has the money to "make deals" and uses the DCMA to defend its self.

Google is "getting better", but only because of so many copyright suits have come into place, and Google being rich are a better target than back when they bought Youtube.

That said - It's OK by me, but then I am not pro-copyright.

Not to mention the Google Books scanning controversy... http://books.google.com/ Free books!
 

Marc

Hunkered Down for the Duration
Staff member
Admin
#10
<snip> I simply took their project plan, replaced their name with ours and hay presto, it got accepted on first presentation. <snip>
That is, and for years has been, very, very common, and not just with project plans by any means... :note: Think back to the early days of ISO 9001 when a quality manual *was* ISO 9001 with some added specifics, and everything was aligned with it.
 
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