Plagiarism – please read!
Plagiarism is defined as using somebody else’s ideas as your own. These ideas can be texts, images, sounds, shapes, color schemes, or even thoughts.
The most common acts of plagiarism in fan creations are:
1. Taking someone else’s basic idea or a plot of a story and writing it in your own words
2. Taking sentences from someone else’s story and fitting them into your own
3. Making a copy of someone else’s drawing/painting
4. Taking someone else’s creation (story/image) and claiming it is yours.
Case #4 is the most obvious one, and everybody who does so understands it is wrong. What some people do not understand is, that everything you borrow from another person is plagiarizing! No matter how small a part it is, even if it is only one sentence, or a small detail of a drawing, it is still using someone else’s work. This is not only bad behaviour, it is also criminal, and the original owner of the idea may have a right to sue you. Fan creations are not exceptions, everything that is published, is also protected by the copyright laws.
The best way to avoid plagiarism is simply to use ideas that are definitely your own. Sometimes, however, people do get inspired by other people’s works, and can also create something good based on them. The fact that someone else owns the idea, does not prevent you from using it. The best thing to do, is to contact the owner of the original idea, and ask if you can use it. This prevents any confusion later. If you cannot contact the original owner, you can also state the source of the original idea; not just to avoid future accusations, this is also good behaviour!
Many fan fiction authors state at the beginning of their story, that the characters they use are created by J.R.R. Tolkien, and that the plot is based on his books. It is just as easy to state your other sources, fellow fan fiction authors, for example. You should also include the information on how to find the original source into this.
The Council of Elrond has a very strict policy towards plagiarism: we do not tolerate any of it. Any author/artist found guilty of plagiarizing must face a public apology, or a permanent banning from this site!
If you ever feel tempted to plagiarize, also remember this: someone has worked very hard to create the original idea. No matter how small a part of it you use, theft is always a theft, and you are cheating everybody, but most of all yourself, if you try to make yourself look better by using someone else’s ideas!
When submitting stories to CoE, if your only sources have been Tolkien’s books, or the films, you do not have to state those sources.