Copying and sin

Q’s? regarding copying:

There is this book that you can view online that has some good quotes I sometimes like to use for social media purposes (like CAF). Because you can’t copying and paste directly out of the book, I decided to copy a section I thought had some really good information so that when I wanted to use it in a post, I could just copy/paste from a document that already has the info. Otherwise, to reference it would be very cumbersome. The problem is that it has a copyright, but I’m not using it for commercial purposes so I don’t think its a sin. Am I right in thinking I’m not sinning?

Another thing is to what extent is cheating/copying in a school setting a mortal sin? E.g copying someone else’s homework or copying a one point answer off someone else’s test (assuming it’s not a major exam) would be a venial sin, whereas cheating on the ACT or the GMAT would be a mortal sin? Sound about right?

17 U.S.C. § 107
Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 17 U.S.C. § 106 and 17 U.S.C. § 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include:

  1. the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
  2. the nature of the copyrighted work;
  3. the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
  4. the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors.[4]

For non-authoritative, but probably not far wrong commentary, see: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fair_use.

Lots of stuff there, but if you are merely quoting small pieces because you found them interesting or wish to comment on them (and not claiming that what you are quoting is your own) then you’re fine. Most of the court cases are talking about how people can get away with much more than that, no one would even bat an eye at presenting an excerpt and commenting on it.

As for cheating, as someone who is teaching as part of his graduate assistantship, I have come to believe that all cheaters should be hung up by their heels and flogged. So perhaps I will leave characterization of the gravity of such acts to someone a little less… enraged by the very idea.

Copying short passages from a copyrighted work for non-commercial discussion purposes is legal and no sin.

Academic cheating is certainly sinful. I cannot tell you where it crosses the line between venial and mortal. Don’t do it.

Copying someone’s homework with their permission is okay, but if you have to turn it in to the teacher, then you would need to admit that you copied it. Copying it so you’ll have info to study for a test is different. My daughter is in high school and she and her friends work together on projects that aren’t necessarily group projects, but they’ll split the assignment in half and share with each other. I don’t have a problem with that because the teacher didn’t say they couldn’t, and they obviously are aware they are sharing with each other.

Copying off of a test is always bad, doesn’t matter the importance of the test.

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