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I'm reading a (proposed) novel for a friend, and they've used large chunks (as in, full paragraphs verbatim) from online sources within their text, usually sourcing from encyclopedias. The way they've done it is if a certain character is lecturing, or the protagonist is describing the geography or history of an area. It flows well with the rest of their writing style, but so much has been used that I'm quite confident it passes fair use under copyright.

So my question is: make them re-write the sections, or simply reference as if it were non-fiction?

Thanks!

  • This sounds like a red flag--there's probably too much info-dumping exposition going on. – MissMonicaE Oct 27 '16 at 19:55
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They should rewrite it. If the character is supposed to be smart enough to be lecturing on the subject, the words should sound like the character anyway and not like Wikipedia or wherever. Also, if they are citing in big enough chunks, it will likely get boring for the reader. Much better to have the character's audience interrupt with a question or something. There is opportunity to show a lot about the characters in a situation like that. Is the character that's giving the information pompous about it? Are they uncomfortable with being the center of attention and running through the info as quickly as possible? Suggest your writer friend think about the scene as a whole and not just a way to get information across. And that will all avoid copyright/plagiarism concerns.

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