Copy it Right
The cure for Christian plagiarism
By S. Michael Houdmann, Got Questions Ministries
We are often asked why we copyright the content on GotQuestions.org and our other sites. Our answer — we copyright the content we produce to encourage people to copy it right. As long as people clearly reference and/or link to the source of the material, we have absolutely no problem with people copying, printing, and/or distributing it. In fact, we want people to spread our content to anyone who would be benefited by it.
We once had a Bible college professor contact us and say that after he gave his class an assignment to write a paper on eternal security, he noticed a lot of very similar wording in many of the papers that were turned in. After doing some research, he discovered the content to be on GotQuestions.org. Needless to say, he gave the class a strong reminder of the necessity to reference sources, and numerous students received Fs on that particular assignment.
Early in our history, we had an individual create an almost exact duplicate of GotQuestions.org, including the hundreds of pages of content we had at the time. He did this entirely without any citation or reference to GotQuestions.org. He even copied our statement that we have answered 30,000 questions (or whatever number it was at that time). He looked at it as being a shortcut to getting his own internet ministry started.
Since that time, many others have copied significant amounts of content from GotQuestions.org without any citation. No one else has done it to the same extent, but I imagine there are tens of thousands of instances of plagiarism of GotQuestions.org on various Christian websites out there.
It is an interesting emotion, part anger and part sadness, we feel when we see the content we worked hard to produce being claimed by other people. And, that is what is happening when content is plagiarized. You are claiming that you created it. You are claiming that those are your words and that you did the research. Plagiarism is lying and stealing. Plagiarism is essentially breaking two of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:15-16). Plagiarism, in any form, is absolutely unacceptable for a Christian.
Some pastors plagiarize entire sermons. Some worship leaders use music and/or lyrics without properly referencing the source and paying the appropriate licensing fees. Writers are notorious for not always citing their sources. Some forms of plagiarism are illegal (Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-16), yet another reason not to plagiarize.
But, the main reason a Christian should never plagiarize is that it dishonors God. Plagiarism is lying, cheating, and stealing. Plagiarism is disobedience to God's Word. It is offensive to God. It is an insult to the person(s) from whom you plagiarized.
Copy it right!
P.S. With over 4,000 pages of content on GotQuestions.org, we do not deny that there may be some plagiarized content. We instruct our writers to create entirely original content and to clearly reference any sources used. But, with hundreds of different writers having produced content in the past 12 years, I am sure some instances of plagiarism have escaped our attention. If you ever find anything on GotQuestions.org that appears to be plagiarized, please let us know. Thank you.
Tags: Christian-Life | Got-Questions? | Sin-Evil
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