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Copyright of text in NAWCC Encyclopedia Articles Printable Version

This page is a chapter in 'Book Encyclopedia Writers Guide'

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Purpose of this Article

This article provides rules and guidelines for authors in respect to copyright of text within the area of the NAWCC Message Board known as the "National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors Encyclopedia".

The copyright of photographs and other images is covered separately in the article [main]Copyright of images in the NAWCC Encyclopedia[/main].

    • Rules are mandatory requirements and must be followed by all authors.
    • Guidelines provide further information and suggestions for writing articles which satisfy the rules.

Copyright of each Author’s contribution and of each Encyclopedia entry as a whole


Each Encyclopedia entry is licenced to the public under the terms of the
Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike-NonCommercial license; details of this license will be found at Creative Commons

All authors retain copyright over their own work.

The act of creating an Encyclopedia entry or editing an existing article implies the author’s acceptance of this license.

This rule is effective from 15-July-2009.


The usernames of authors and editors, and their contributions, are available in the history tab of each article. However, usernames are often not the names of people and it can be very difficult (or even impossible) to determine who has a particular username.

Where an article is substantially the work of an individual, and the author is known, the author shall be attributed. Otherwise the attribution will be “NAWCC Encyclopedia”.


  1. Fundamental to the Wiki system is that articles can be edited by anyone. Such editing may be minor, major changes, or it may even involve replacing the entire article with a new article.
    If an article has been significantly edited or replaced it may become impractical or very difficult for the author and editors to assert their copyrights over different parts of the article.
  2. Circumstances may arise where text in one article is used in another article. If such text is copyright then permission to copy would have to be obtained and this permission might be refused.

These difficulties mean that the only practical solution is to require that the authors explicitly or implicitly release their text contributions to the public through a standardized free license scheme.

Existing articles

In the case of articles which existed before the date of effect of this rule:
  1. If an author does not agree to license a contribution, then that contribution should be removed by the author from the NAWCC Encyclopedia.
  2. If an entire article needs to be removed, then the author should contact a moderator to arrange for the article to be deleted.

Citing Sources


All text copied from or derived from another work, or from another encyclopedia article, must be accompanied by a complete citation for the source of that information.


  1. This rule covers every use of material from another work, including paraphrasing.
  2. In some instances information appears in similar form in a number of works and can be regarded as common knowledge. An author may omit citing a source for such information.
  3. All citations must include author(s), title, publisher, and year of publication. In the case of journal articles, the citation should also include the journal, issue number and pages.
  4. All citations should appear in separate sections at the end of the article.
  5. Even when the cited work is considered to be in the public domain, the rules of attribution mandate proper citations.
  6. Where approprate the [footnote] and [reflist] codes should be used to indicate the citations relevant to specific sections of text.

The inclusion of text taken from a work by some person other than the author or editor of an Encyclopedia article involves three aspects of copyright:

  1. Public domain: Any work in which the copyright has expired can be reproduced freely, even in its entirety. However, determining if copyright has expired can be difficult.
  2. Fair Use: Fair use allows small amounts of copyright text to be quoted without obtaining permission from the author. However, it is difficult to determine if a particular quote is fair use or or it is so long (or so significant) that the use is not fair.
  3. Paraphrasing: Copyright generally protects the particular words used by a writer. It does not protect the ideas and facts in a work. Consequently, an author can create an article which expresses all the same ideas, facts and points as in a work under copyright provided that he uses his own words and not those of the original work. However, such paraphrasing must be significantly different from the original.

    Copyright can also protect aspects of layout and appearance, as in tabular information. Again, such material can be used provided that the expression and layout are not simply copied.

    Excessive paraphrasing could be seen as plagiarism and should be avoided.

Both fair use quotations and paraphrasing are common and necessary tools used by authors when references to copyright works are required. But they must be used with care.

Guidelines: Public Domain

The reproduction of large amounts of a public domain work should be avoided.

The NAWCC Encyclopedia is not a repository for public domain works, and articles should not simply be copies of other works.

Where an author needs to include ideas and facts from another work they should be approprately paraphrased and direct quotations should be avoided.

Other than works known without doubt to be in the public domain, only works where the author is known to have died 70 or more years ago should be considered to be in the public domain.

There is a risk that copying a large amount of material from a work might result in an action for breach of copyright. To ensure this is unlikely to happen, it is recommended that the stringent test above should be used.

The US copyright law 1923 provision should not be relied upon.

United States copyright law provides that works published before 1923 are generally in the public domain and can be freely copied. However often such works are still covered by copyright in other countries. Because the NAWCC Encyclopedia is available world-wide, it is possible for someone in another country to breach copyright by copying an article from the Encyclopedia even though it is in the public domain in the USA.

To avoid this, authors should try to avoid freely using pre-1923 publications, but rely on the 70 year rule.

Guidelines: Fair Use Quotations

Direct quotations should only be used when the precise wording of the text is important.

In the majority of situations, the ideas and facts can be expressed by paraphrasing, which avoids any problems with copyright.

Guidelines: Paraphrasing

Paraphrasing requires that the information taken from another work is completely rewritten in the author’s own words.

It is not sufficient to copy text from another work and make a few minor changes to the wording and/or order. The fact that cut/and paste is quicker and easier for the author than paraphrasing is not a good enough reason to use quotations rather than quotes.
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