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macrumors 65816
Original poster
Jan 31, 2010
Midlife, Midwest
I have noticed a trend of people cutting and pasting large sections of copyrighted online articles verbatim in several of the forums.

The forum rules contain the following:

Reposting. Please don't repost entire articles from other sites. To initiate a discussion about an article, post a link to the article, quote a bit of it if you like, and include your own comments or questions so people know why you think it's worthy of discussion.

Emphasis mine. A phrase such as "a bit of it" seems so vague as to invite misuse, and potentially trouble.

The legality of what constitutes "Fair Use" of copyrighted material is a somewhat complicated issue, there is no set percentage of a copyrighted work that can be copied without infringing copyright.

But I am reasonably certain that copying and posting verbatim whole paragraphs, amounting to a majority (if not the totality) of the original work constitutes copyright infringement. Reposting in this manner robs the original creator of the work of potential advertising revenue and page views.
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macrumors Haswell
May 3, 2009
Please report any thread/post that does not adhere to our rules.

The rules are such that we require the link back to the source, a quoted portion of the article, along with the OP's thoughts to help start the discussion.
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macrumors 65816
Original poster
Jan 31, 2010
Midlife, Midwest
This one, for starters

A link and a quoted source are one thing. But they don't relieve a person quoting or otherwise re-using copyrighted material from the obligations of "Fair Use" under copyright law. Nor does the fact that the person posting the material doesn't believe he/she is not "personally profiting".

I did for the record, report this post.

As I alluded to earlier, what constitutes "Fair Use" of copyright material is complicated. But, in essence, the law requires that the person reusing copyrighted material do so in a manner that preserves the commercial and artistic interests of the original creator. If someone cuts and pastes so much of an article from the New York Times or Politico that there is no reason a person would subsequently need to visit their website, then their commercial interests are compromised: They don't get advertising dollars or website impressions.

But beyond the legal issue, there is the inevitable harm to the community. If I want to read the New York Times or Politico or CNN or People Magazine, I'm very well capable of doing so on my own. Its one thing to have someone mention "I saw this story online about XXX, here's a link" - along with a short quotation, (a sentence or two, maybe a paragraph) - it's another thing entirely to see whole paragraphs cut and pasted verbatim, with virtually no content created by the OP.

Which brings us to the issue of formating. In the instance I cited (and many others) the material is cut and pasted in such a way that it is difficult to see what has been reposted, and what is the contribution of the OP. vBulletin provides a quotation tool that presents quotes (from many sources) in a clearly identifiable format.

It also truncates long quotations so that the reader has to click on the box to see a long quotation in its entirety. I think that, at a minimum, it should be a requirement that quoted copyright material be put into an appropriate quotation box. I personally use the vBulletin quotation tool as a guide to how long portions of cut-and-pasted text should be: If the quote is so long that it's not all immediately visible, it's a hint that I'm getting close to quoting too much of it.

Cutting and pasting huge blocks of copyrighted material in a discussion forum is disrespectful to the rights of the people that created it. It is also disrespectful of the many people who participate in these forums by expressing their own thoughts and ideas, and in their own words.
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macrumors 601
Jun 8, 2007
One of the posts does (at least) begin with attribution.

That approach is far less annoying to me (the reader) than articles that make attribution an afterthought, near the foot of the page. But still annoying, no doubt, to some authors.

I know it's not for everyone, but for writers who bother me and whose content is not moderated to my liking, I simply use the ignore feature.


Oct 11, 2015
The Fair Use issue and its relationship to the Forum Rules is a worthy topic of discussion. Respecting people's property rights, their words, is important. Respecting the Forum Rules and the volunteers who enforce them (and manage the day-to-day forum activity), as well as other fellow members, is also important.

.....Don't complain about the post in the forums and don't quote the post since it will just call attention to an inappropriate post and your post won't make sense if the moderators remove the offending post. Be sure not to make an angry post that breaks the rules yourself.....

Beyond this violation of quoting a potentially rule breaking post (in the view of the reporter) is the forum-wide guiding spirit of the rules -- basic courtesy.
Guidelines: Show respect for your fellow posters. Expect and accept that other users may have strongly held opinions that differ from yours. In other words, basic human courtesy.

Again, the interpretation of Fair Use is a worthy subject. But at times, whatever the intent, this thread has veered from that subject matter. Because of the times it's been discourteous toward fellow members and member/moderators by 'calling them out', a reader could honestly infer that part of its purpose has been to be intentionally inflammatory. Is this partially about an axe to grind?

There's many ways
to work with, and respectfully contact, forum management about honest concerns. As far as I know, those type of concerns are welcomed.


Staff member
Apr 18, 2004
Somewhere over the rainbow
This is also a pet peeve of mine, and I agree that the best way to deal with commenting on an article is to quote at most a very few sentences using the quote function, include a link to the source, and add your opinion. Why do you think it's worthy of bringing it to members' attention? What is your opinion?

Giving up on reporting doesn't help us, and we're interested in fixing the problem when people quote entire - or more than a few sentences of - an article. The correct way to report is via the post report function.


macrumors 6502
Jan 19, 2014
I think that, at a minimum, it should be a requirement that quoted copyright material be put into an appropriate quotation box.
I endorse your comments on Fair Use but must disagree on this point. I hate, hate, hate the new quotation boxes, which essentially hide anything beyond a few lines behind a click-through. If I'm quoting something, I do so because I think it's important to the point I'm making and for the reader to understand. Hiding the full quote behind a click-through effectively inhibits my ability to communicate. If someone made me King of this place I'd bring back quote boxes that show the full quote.

I do agree that quoted material needs to be clearly identifiable. As such, I hope TPTB here will allow indents as an alternative to the quote box. That's my preferred method of clearly indicating quoted material while still ensuring all of the quote is visible to the reader.
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