How do you quote someone from Quora

Quoting on the World Wide Web

The Internet is a gigantic place where texts, images, music and other content can be found. If you want to use them in your own texts or videos, on websites or in social networks, you should know which rules apply to quoting.

Copyright expressly permits quoting without asking permission from the author or his representative, the rights holder (e.g. a publisher). This also applies to quotes on the Internet, on websites, in blogs or on profile pages. The principle behind this right is that an author normally always builds on the cultural achievements of his predecessors. Therefore, he has to accept this relatively minor encroachment on his exclusive right of exploitation if it serves general cultural and economic progress.

Without this provision, quoting would be so time-consuming that it would be practically impossible. But the law restricts the right with the wording “provided that the scope of use is justified by the particular purpose” (Section 51 of the Copyright Act: citations).

So you cannot simply incorporate every piece of text in any length into your own text: The excerpt has to serve a purpose, for example by explaining the content of the new text. One should therefore not publish a book or put a website on the Internet in which a long list of excerpts from other books is strung together, for example under the title “The funniest dialogues in literary history”.

In normal usage, many would say: “But I'm only quoting the writers.” But that is the important difference that needs to be understood: Nothing is explained here, so the excerpts adopted do not serve the purpose of quotation. Therefore, in such a case, the authors from whom the excerpts originate would have to be asked for permission.

So certain requirements have to be met in order to be able to quote. Basically: There must be an inner connection between your own and the quoted work and the quotation may only have a supportive effect on your own work. Your own must always be in the foreground. In addition to the purpose of the quotation, there are a few more rules that must be observed when quoting, which are presented in detail in the following text.

The rules for correct citation in detail:

1. Every quote must have a purpose.

In order for a quotation to be permissible, it is not enough if you only want to save your own explanations with it or to decorate your own work. A quotation is only permissible if it supports your own explanations or serves the intellectual debate with the quoted work and it shows an inner connection with your own work.

2. The quotation must be clearly identified, the adopted content must remain unchanged.

Each quotation must be marked as being taken over from another work - in the case of texts, for example, by emphasizing the quotation, for example with quotation marks or boldface. The source must also always be given. There are accepted rules for citing sources, but no uniform specifications (see further links at the end of the text). On the web, it's good form not only to name the page or file from which you are quoting, but also to link it.

It is generally not permitted to change the quoted passage. Quotations in texts therefore usually have to be verbatim. It is only allowed to abbreviate or translate it if it does not “distort the meaning”, because nothing may be imputed to the author of the original work that he did not write. Omissions are usually indicated by a combination of brackets and periods: (...).

3. The quotation must not go beyond an expedient scope.

There is no strict limit to how long a quote can be. In any case, the citizen is not obliged to restrict himself to the necessary minimum. Quotations are rather permissible to an appropriate, reasonable extent. This level is exceeded if the use of the quoted work is impaired or even replaced by the quotation, that is, if someone no longer needs the original work because its content becomes clear through the quotation alone.

When this is the case can never be said in general, but depends on the circumstances. From an 80-page text, 8 pages may not be quoted in a separate text that is only 10 pages long in total. Also, 8 pages may not be quoted from a 10-page text.

However, entire works may also be quoted - one speaks of a large quotation - if it is justified by the purpose of the quotation. This allows, for example, poems to be quoted in full when writing an essay. Even with pictures, quoting would hardly be possible without the large quotation rule.

4. Quoting from published works only

The prerequisite for citing is always that the works cited have already been published with the consent of the person entitled - usually the author. Unpublished works, on the other hand, may only be quoted if the author has given permission.

Special case of plagiarism

“Copying from a text is called plagiarism. Copying from two is called research ”- this definition by the English writer John Milton is not only meant as a joke. It sums up how difficult it is to decide when to deal with plagiarism.

The main difficulty lies in determining what exactly is plagiarism. The term does not appear in copyright law, for example. In a recommendation to the German universities, the German Rectors' Conference, an amalgamation of almost all state and state-recognized universities and colleges, defined plagiarism as "unauthorized exploitation under presumption of authorship".

Exploitation is not only meant here in a commercial sense, but would also exist if someone takes the idea, hypothesis, theory or the like of another author into their own work and relies heavily on it without naming him. Such a procedure would only be considered a copyright infringement if one were to copy passages in the text.

This example already shows how difficult it is to apply such definitions in everyday life. So it is not only common in science, but it is expressly required that one builds on existing knowledge in order to develop new ones. “We can see so far because we stand on the shoulders of giants,” is the famous parable that describes this type of scientific progress.

Who is the author

However, it is impossible to always ascribe all of the knowledge and knowledge that one would like to use in one's own texts to an “original” creator - even if one assumed that such a thing existed at all. But if crucial parts of one's own argumentation, one's own expression have been adopted by someone else, it is the author's duty to point this out.

If passages are taken over word for word - or almost word for word - this is done in the form of quotations: by quoting in an appropriate length and naming the original author. For example: “Goethe had already recognized that doubt also grows with knowledge.” The original passage reads (the “maxims and reflections on literature and ethics”): “Actually, you only know if you know little; doubt grows with knowledge."

Plagiarism is not just copying

In practice, it is often difficult to define what is plagiarism and what is not. Nobody would think of plagiarism if someone copied and sold a new novel by a successful author without her permission in order to earn money. Because for this to become a business, the author has to be named because she is the incentive to buy the book.

Such a copy would, however, be a very obvious breach of copyright law and the copier would be punished if caught. But it wouldn't be plagiarism, because the copier wouldn't have claimed to be the author of the book himself.

One can accuse an author of plagiarism without having copied a single sentence in his book word for word from another. An example of this is the legal battle between bestselling author Dan Brown and scientists Richard Leigh and Michael Baigent. Leigh and Baigent accused Brown of having taken research results on the legend of the Holy Grail and the biblical figure of Mary Magdalene from their work and used them for the bestseller "Da Vinci Code".

In this case you can see the limits of copyright law, because even if Brown had done what he was accused of, he would not have infringed the copyright. Because facts - such as historical backgrounds - are, at least under German copyright law, not protected, but common property and can be used by everyone. When such facts are involved can only be decided on a case-by-case basis. The court decided against Leigh and Baigent.

Plagiarism is often really clear when parts of one work have been copied identically into another. Then the copyright is usually also affected, because it is the so-called willful presumption of the authorship of a third-party work. This is an encroachment on the “right to recognition of authorship”, that is, a moral right that is laid down in Section 13 (“Recognition of Authorship”) of the Copyright Act.

In practice this is extremely difficult to define, as the above examples have shown. They clearly show that in many cases plagiarism is more of an ethical than a legal problem. If, for example, a scientist takes over the thought of another without referring to this other person, one speaks of plagiarism, although ideas cannot be protected. The fact that the scientist chose a completely different formulation to describe the idea, i.e. the procedure would not be a copyright infringement, would not help him either.

Consequences of plagiarism

The recommendation of the University Rectors' Conference, which also proposed the definition cited at the beginning (“unauthorized exploitation under presumption of authorship”), classifies plagiarism as serious misconduct. If it is proven, academic degrees and the license to teach can be withdrawn.

If there is also a violation of copyright, i.e. the right to recognize the authorship or the right to edit, the plagiarist can be sued for injunctive relief and damages. In addition, labor, civil, criminal or regulatory measures can follow.

But the threat of legal consequences should not be the most important reason to keep your hands off plagiarism. Respect for the achievements of others, be they musicians or writers, filmmakers or scientists, makes it necessary to show them recognition if you make their work the basis of your own works.

Quote pictures

There are tons of fan sites on the Internet that provide information about film and pop stars, cult films or favorite books - and want to share your enthusiasm with others. It goes without saying that it would be a bit monotonous without pictures of the idols or screenshots from your favorite film. But only in very rare cases can you invoke the right to quote if you want to use pictures - photos, graphics, illustrations - that you did not take yourself.

Weblogs often work with image quotes, such as in the image blog:

Here the authors clearly deal with the content of the picture, so that it is permitted to reproduce the picture in its entirety.

According to the right to quote, it may be permissible to take photos of record covers or book covers and incorporate them into a fansite or discography. However, this is only legally flawless if one deals with the quoted work. Just as with printed texts, you may not use other people's works on the Internet without permission if you only want to illustrate or beautify your own offer, for example your own website or profile.

In addition, the discussion must relate to the quoted work, which is by no means a matter of course in artist databases, lyrics pages or book reviews as far as quotes from texts, covers or book covers are concerned. Because mostly you want to deal - if at all - with the music, the author or the content of the novel, not with the design of the record cover or the illustration on the cover.

Public works

Works whose copyright protection has expired because their creators have been dead for more than 70 years are called public domain. You can do anything with them that is prohibited by copyright law: publish them, distribute them and so on without the permission of the author. With quotations, this plays a major role in terms of copyright law in many cases, especially when quoting text: Anyone using such texts without marking them is not violating copyright law, as there is no longer any copyright protection.

But even if the creators have been dead for more than 70 years, it should - for ethical, not legal reasons - be a matter of course that one does not appropriate their works without giving them recognition - that is, to point out that one is relying on their creations relates. For example, it should go without saying that when a thought you are carrying out has been put on paper for the first time by another author, even if that thought has been dead for more than 70 years, you should draw attention to it.

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  • 1July summer moonon July 31, 2014 at 10:17 pm

    Thank you very much for this information. You have been very helpful to me.

  • 2Jörg Zimmermann on January 1st, 2018 at 9:05 pm

    Thank you very much too!

  • 3Andreas Zitekon May 8, 2019 at 8:19 pm

    Hello! What about the options for quoting or using graphics with quotations in OER? Without a quotation there is hardly any scientifically comprehensible content. Do you have examples where quoting has been implemented in OER? Thanks!

  • 4Franz Rickingeron February 18th, 2021 at 12:09 PM

    Good day, hello god,

    Yikes, finally an understandable text.

    Unfortunately, “Who’s Who” recently warned me because I was trying to translate an old English text “Nyâya” into German and the preparatory work of the translator into English (over 70 years dead) was about a person “Gotama”.
    Research on my part showed that the “Gautamas” are the descendants of a “Gotama”. Later it became an “honorary title”.
    In doing so, I came up with the idea of ​​wanting to refer to “Gautama Buddha” as a - marked - comment, in order to classify it “would have to have been before Buddha, since he is also called“ Gautama Buddha ”.
    For this purpose, I noted the dates of life of the Buddha based on the “German National Library” and because the “time span” for “Who's Who” was set to be more rapid, I quoted that 1/4 page about Buddha.
    The quote was marked by me, the link address was given and I wanted to shorten it later to the - for me - essential, as soon as I had found other sources (e.g. Mylius Klaus, Oldenberg Hermann, Deussen Paul, Winternitz In the meantime I found Moriz, etc.).

    I assumed that it must be an attempt at internet fraud, especially since my homepage is non-commercial and I am trying to comply with the Federal Constitutional Court ruling, according to which lack of information on the background of the "TM meditation technique" was / were objectionable, enough to do.
    So I filed a complaint with the police. Let's see what happens. (It was exactly at Christmas time that the warning came. I searched for “Buddha” and via a link I came to a “Who's Who” page at de rich to the imprint and had to torment me through several pages of pictures. Scrolls a film is created through pictures and you don't know beforehand what to expect on the next page and therefore I don't like scrolling.

    So have the site currently offline and work through everything again.

    Non-commercial homepage, 1/4 page quoted and source cited and then warned.
    All that is right.
    The legislature will have to step up.
    That's not how it works:
    A book no longer sells as a book; you set as “trap“ online ”whoever is quoted from it is warned and 1000.- € per warning; Oh yes, you could earn more than selling “books”.

    At Brockhaus you have to register in advance.
    Apparently “copy & paste” can be blocked, as it is the case with some Internet sites and even “screen photos” via “Ashampoo Snap anyway” can be blocked, which is the case, for example, with online banking at a large savings bank.

    Can you still understand Who's Who & co?
    I think that the legislature should protect “website operators” from something like that and should turn off such Internet traps as well as child pornography sites & co.


    Unfortunately, your page here would not have saved me from that.

What do you think?