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I am pursuing a PhD (computer science) from one of the reputed Indian universities. I have prepared some white papers for publication in coming journals. I prepared these papers by myself. I referred various links and study guides, books etc.

After getting these papers published, I received one notice from the editorial staff of publication that I have violated the contents/copyright law. They provided me some contents and images (they said violated areas). I am surprised because I prepared all the things by myself. I have already mentioned the referred links, books etc. in the publication.

How can I avoid content violation in my own written material?

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  • Did you use images from other sources in your paper?
    – ff524
    May 5 '14 at 19:34
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    @ff524 - no I draw these images, person who claimed for content violation said these image and contents belong to her. I asked my guide and he said that these images are very common like I have created a security model for Cloud computing which is very common so, everyone can draw the same image for security model. May 5 '14 at 19:37
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    It's hard to make a judgment here without seeing what was allegedly infringed upon, and what you did. However, it is important to remember that ideas cannot be copyrighted. Reconstructed images normally violate copyright only when there is data or novel intellectual content that has been reproduced without permission.
    – aeismail
    May 5 '14 at 20:51
  • The editorial staff of which journal? And which country's laws did they say you violated? (I'm not a lawyer, so I won't be able to answer in any case, but I think it might help other people to answer.) May 6 '14 at 6:26
  • @TrevorWilson - Publication is in India and editorial staff did not mention that this is a content violation they sent an mail mentioning that XYZ person claims as an original author of these contents May 6 '14 at 11:05
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Copyright protects not only the original content itself but also anything which is clearly derived from the original content. That is why plagiarism doesn’t depend on whether you copied, retyped, or minorly reworded.

If you created a figure using a figure that somebody else drew as a template, then it does not matter if there are minor differences between your figure and their figure. Because your creation is closely deirved from their creation, then it is still their copyright, from both a moral and legal perspective (personally, as a scientist I find the moral perspective more compelling than the legal).

If you had simply created a figure from scratch, then it is highly unlikely that it would appear closely similar to another person’s figure – there are simply too many possible personal choices in how to diagram the same ideas, even for fairly simple ideas.

At this point, there are two ways to proceed (assuming that the rest of your content is intellectually honest):

  1. Create your own diagrams from scratch with significantly different content, reflecting the different ways in which you think about the area.
  2. Obtain rights permissions from the original publisher, and include “(figure adapted from […])” in your paper. Many publishers have an automated online method for obtaining fragment reuse rights, which can then be sent to the publisher handling your paper. If the original figure was posted in a free-reuse medium (e.g., a US or UK government report), then you may not have to do formal obtaining of rights.
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For what I read in one comment you draw also the images, but still if the figures appears somewhere else you should reference them. For example put something like:

Figure 1: Description... (based/largely based in Professor X)

Try to make those changes.

Good luck!

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  • those figures are mine (I draw those) and how can I mention these belong to someone else. I Completely agreed what did you say in my publication I adapted Microsoft asp.net MVC workflow (images) and I referred that the original source is XXXX. But, how can I mention those images for others which have been drawn by myself only? May 5 '14 at 19:50
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    for that reason I have said that you should put the term "based on". I recommend you check up the source from where they are making claims you took the figures. Even if its your own drawings and you based those on something you have saw before, then you must put the source.
    – Layla
    May 5 '14 at 20:01
  • The figures she was telling is not same as mine I draw it in vertically but other was in horizontally I use 3-different color but other is having a single color in the description I have already mentioned that this is adapted on the theory of Cloud Security May 5 '14 at 20:06
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    In case that you have never seen the other material, I mean that the model has just came out of your mind, then you can try to argue with the editor that there are no copyright issues. If you based those figures on some material you have seen before then it is your duty to reference that. Even if you have changed the format: colors, style, position, and so on.
    – Layla
    May 6 '14 at 3:23

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