I'm going to type nice and slow so that the people who don't get it might finally understand.
As writers, we MUST respect the copyright of other writers.
1) No posting articles anywhere in any forum, online anywhere, photocopied for your whole class to read, or used in any public forum at all. Yes, that even includes Yahoo Groups.
2) Just because the article is helpful and good and inspiring and wonderful... doesn't mean you get to give it away for free without the RIGHT to do so. Only the author has that right. (Oh and by the way, just because you like a picture doesn't give you the right to repost it either... go find a free photo site... see that pic up above? Free photo site.)
3) All those wonderful stories that you forward on, beautiful poems and essays.. they were actually written by someone. Take the time to either ensure that you have the RIGHT to forward it on or that the author has allowed it to be forwarded at will by people who can't come up with something that briliant. Oh and pegging "anonymous" on the end does not absolve you of the responsibility of respecting another writer's copyright. I can forgive Uncle Larry and Sister Sue and Papa Fred for forwarding something on... they aren't writers. It's like if you hear of someone forging cheques... how much WORSE is it if that person also works at a bank? (Now, forwarding jokes is another matter... see below... but you have to ask yourself, is this a funny essay that someone deserves payment for, or is this a joke. Here's the test: can you memorize it and retell it at the water cooler? No? Then it's an essay.)
4) Learn the proper definition of PUBLIC DOMAIN. It does not mean "out there in the world". It means "Material that is uncopyrighted, whose copyright has expired, or is uncopyrightable" this includes government publications, many jokes. Here's a refresher for you.
5) Know the different between copyright and assigning rights. When you create a work, you always have the copyright, UNLESS you are an employee and creating that work for your employer. If you are not an employee, then the copyright is yours to ASSIGN THE RIGHT TO COPY. That's where we get into first rights, all rights (which isn't giving away your copyright, you've just given them the right to do what they want with the work, but the copyright is still yours... think of it this way: You own the cow, but you've sold all the milk), web rights, archive rights... and while we're at it... that copyright only passes to the purchaser (the publication) when they PAY YOU.
6) Plaigiarism = BAD WRITER. It is defined as taking anything that you didn't write YOURSELF and claiming that you did write it.
Ok. I'm done my rant. I was just set off once again today by seeing yet another writer copy and paste an entire article in an email and send it to a list of writers.