Quote of the Day - Copy from one, it's plagiarism; copy from two, it's research.
The aspect of right and wrong isn't so hard to grasp. Many of us, if not all of us, already understand it. That said, mistakes get made. In fact, mistakes get made by mainstream media about bloggers. Take the recent example of the National Law Journal's article (subscription required), taken in large part from the UCL practitioner. The blogger, Kimberly Kralowec, was "flattered that the NLJ was reading my blog and relied on my work," but "disappointed" they didn't credit her.
When called on it, the NLJ issued a clarification here. Surprisingly, the clarification doesn't appear with the actual story, but that's typical of printed newspapers. Should the clarification appear with the actual story? It's not that hard to do on the web.
How can bloggers avoid the same mistake?
Provide credit where credit is due. Given that most bloggers have some advanced training in English, most of us have at least a passing understanding of plagiarism. If you're going to copy someone else's work, provide credit.
What's the format? Try this one out: Who, What, Where and When. List the author, the title of the author's work, the location (easy to do on the web with hyperlinks) and when the work was published. That information should pass even the toughest muster.
Sometimes, blogging is original ideas. Sometimes, it's commentary on someone else's ideas or news source. When you comment or copy, cite. It's that simple.
Blogging is coming of age, and it's time we start developing some ethical standards and common understandings. I'm not quite sure we're all ready for this level of commitment, though.