Dominant group/Attribution and copyright

Attribution or credit means to let everyone know where a piece of knowledge, even as small as a least publishable unit, is from.

Dominant group has been shown to be a two-word term that originated at or before 1826. It is highly likely that any copyright on the term has long since expired. But, is dominant group still or has it ever been intellectual property?

Perhaps the term is the intellectual property of Kirby whose apparent earliest use in 1826 to describe the regional extent of insects put the two-word term into the entomology literature.

The ownership of the term may have passed from Kirby's efforts into the genre of scientists and notable social commentators separate from the common-language users whose vocabulary is contained in language dictionaries.

As a potential indicator of original research, plagiarism, copyright violations, properly cited uses, or simply mistakes in usage by editors and contributors, dominant group has great potential to help further the acceptance of web-based endeavors with scientists and notable social commentators.



Def. "an explicit or formal acknowledgment of ownership or authorship"[1] is called attribution.



Def. "the right by law to be the entity which determines who may publish, copy and distribute a piece of writing, music, picture or other work of authorship"[2] is called copyright.


Def. a "principle of behaviour, conduct etc. thought to be desirable or necessary, especially as formally expressed by a government or other authoritative body"[3] is called a policy.

"True copyright violation is a matter of policy".[4]

"The licensing policy is designed to ensure as well as possible that if content complies with the policy’s requirements it will also comply with the legal requirements."[5]


Def. "[t]he unauthorized use of copyrighted material in a manner that violates one of the copyright owner's exclusive rights, such as the right to reproduce or perform the copyrighted work, or to make derivative works that build upon it"[6] is called copyright infringement.

“One of the least understood laws that affects or potentially affects perhaps 90% of the school teachers in the country is the Copyright Act.”[7] “The primary violations are of two types: illegal copying and illegal display or performance.”[7] “Illegal copying occurs when public educators copy music, poetry, literature, current news articles, and computer software without permission of the copyright holder.”[7]

Often a copyright notice will say "whole or in part", so how much is that? Whole is the easy one. So don't copy the whole thing without permission, unless it's been proven to be in the PUBLIC DOMAIN. Even when it is I still like to give credit with a Credit: line, as for images or files. There are arguments pro and con about copyright and payment. Usually there's an initial lump sum, salary, or wage, sometimes followed by a royalty, say 5% for each individual reuse of the whole thing, or for a neat part design the assembly line manufacture of which is being used on automobiles. But payment if not forever with every penny you have.

What about the 'part' part? Usually, that refers to one page of many. Of course, if the entire thing is one page, then copying it is a violation without consent, when it's copyrighted. But, sentences that are cited with or without quotes are a part. Here again I use the "beyond reasonable doubt" principle. Let's say an article has 10,000 words and I quote 150 in ten sentences either all together or scattered about. And, I cite them. The part used is less than 2%. Is it a copyright violation? I say no. It's Fair Use. Even more than that is something most don't think about. I'm citing the source. The usual argument is that by taking any small part I've lowered the value of the creator's work. No, what I've done is increase the value of the creator's work. Because anyone who reads what I've written knows where it came from and can check it out. Every time that happens, the original and its creator have their value increased. From an author's perspective, the worst that can happen is no one reads what you've written any more. Now that's zero value or even negative value. It's just a journal on a shelf, now in microfiche, or in a memory chip somewhere, maybe.

It has been written that “any work can be reduced to plagiarism if enough research is done.”[8] Paraphrasing this regarding copyright, 'any work can be reduced to copyright violation if enough research is done.' This is where the nebulous concepts of 'fair' and 'reasonable'; hence, Fair use, come in. Also, within fair use is the idea of "likely to be replaceable by public domain material."[9] This is better providing the PUBLIC DOMAIN text serves the exact same purposes. If it does not, then the referenced source should remain.

"Dominant group" is in the PUBLIC DOMAIN in many countries.

Dominant group


"The original inquiry simply started out as curiosity about a phrase that appeared in a number of wikipedia articles yet stood unwritten about."[10]

"Dominant group" is a term that has several definitions in the scholarly literature and a number of relative synonyms. Its origin dates to at least 1826 and perhaps earlier. It appears to be an entity designated by authors to indicate an observation of importance that needs to be addressed by relevant theory.

"A study of usage, which is what the subject research involves, requires exact quotation, paraphrase would not be showing primary evidence, and a link to an article, in lieu of exact quotation, would simply not work, it would be too cumbersome. The citations are necessary for the research, they are the very core of it."[4]

Intellectual property


Intellectual property (IP) is a term referring to a number of distinct types of creations of the mind for which a set of exclusive rights are recognized under the corresponding fields of law.[11] Under intellectual property law, owners are granted certain exclusive rights to a variety of intangible assets, such as musical, literary, and artistic works; discoveries and inventions; and words, phrases, symbols, and designs. Common types of intellectual property rights include copyrights, trademarks, patents, industrial design rights and trade secrets in some jurisdictions.

"The history of patents does not begin with inventions, but rather with royal grants by Queen Elizabeth I (1558-1603) for monopoly privileges ... Approximately 200 years after the end of Elizabeth's reign, however, a patent represents a legal [right] obtained by an inventor providing for exclusive control over the production and sale of his mechanical or scientific invention ... [demonstrating] the evolution of patents from royal prerogative to common-law doctrine."[12]

Thomas Jefferson wrote to Isaac McPherson on August 13, 1813:

"If nature has made any one thing less susceptible than all others of exclusive property, it is the action of the thinking power called an idea, which an individual may exclusively possess as long as he keeps it to himself; but the moment it is divulged, it forces itself into the possession of every one, and the receiver cannot dispossess himself of it. Its peculiar character, too, is that no one possesses the less, because every other possesses the whole of it. He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me."[13]

Least publishable units


A "least publishable unit" (LPU) is an older expression for the smallest possible fact that has been determined to be a fact that just might be publishable, and has not as yet been published.

LPUs seem to be everywhere yet each one probably has an originator who may have included it in a published context somewhere. When one occurs in a text without attribution to an earlier source, the author including it usually gets the credit, and the honor, of introducing that little fact to everyone.

Some LPUs require extensive research and exploration to determine what they are and prove that they are. The phrase "dominant group" initially appears to be an LPU. Its earliest origin on Wikipedia is not known.



Def. "[t]he act of plagiarizing: the copying of another person's ideas, text or other creative work, and presenting it as one's own, especially without permission", from Wiktionary plagiarism, is called plagiarism.

Here's a simple example: from Edmond Halley, "In 1718 he discovered the proper motion of the "fixed" stars by comparing his astrometric measurements with those given in Ptolemy's Almagest." A least publishable unit is that Halley had a copy of the Almagest available to him that he compared his efforts to. While it makes sense considering his position at the University of Oxford, he'd have access, but how did anyone know that he made this comparison? This apparent little tiny fact has no attribution or citation. Okay, maybe the fact is in the PUBLIC DOMAIN. But, I want to know who found that out or where that little fact came from. While it may not be plagiarism that no citation for this little fact is given (I think it may be), I may have to search high and low to find out. Worse, let's say someone just found this out by reviewing an old handwritten note left in the University of Oxford archives that Halley really did this. Who ever found this out has had a part of his/her soul stolen and appropriated by whomever put this in the article without a citation. Not a big deal - Yes it is!

"If you have referred material from the writings of earlier scholars, please be bold enough to give the reference. Not doing so is plagiarism - an academic sin which must be avoided at all costs."[14] "The act of stealing from the writings of another person and passing the material off as one’s own is a form of intellectual property theft. In other words, plagiarism is an act of fraud. It involves both stealing someone else’s work and pretending that this is to be one’s own and, lying about it afterward."[14]

“Plagiarism is the act of using the words of another without giving the originator credit.”[8] Yes, but more importantly is the phrase "put it into your own words". Briefly this means some kind of factual synonymy. Beautiful! But, the 'synonymizer' didn't determine the fact, the apparent originator who put it in the literature did. "Within these quotes is a short sentence that may contain a fact, even a little tiny inconspicuous fact."[1] Let's say the quotes were left off, who cares why, but the citation [1] is still there. Credit has been given! No plagiarism. It's better with the quotes there but in the past and in some disciplines quotes are forbidden, but the citation is not. What about the synonymy "put it in your own words". Not an excuse to uncite anything. I don't care whether the synonymizer understands the fact or not. I want to know where the synonymizer got it from. And, the person who determined that fact is going to want to know why the cite was left off.

Some authors, editors, writers, article creators "think that changing the words is sufficient to avoid plagiarism."[15] So they leave off the citation. Wrong!

"Plagiarism also can be an unintentional or accidental [act] when there is careless omission of citations and failure in using quotation marks".[14]

Everyone makes mistakes too! But, here's the important part. Let's say someone writes 100 sentences that should have an attribution or citation after them or within them somewhere and misses one. Is that plagiarism? Well, for that one sentence, yes. But, the other 99 are cited. The rule of thumb is "beyond reasonable doubt", that's better than 98% certainty. So is it beyond reasonable doubt that the author who wrote those 100 sentences is not plagiarizing. Yes! Should we shoot the author for that one - no! But, if you find it let the author know so it can be cited. If you don't, you could be considered an accessory after the fact. In addition, give the author the benefit of the doubt (assume good faith, AGF). It's not only the good thing to do, in many countries it's the law - to do anything else may be a serious crime! When the author is no longer with Wikipedia, Wikiversity, or other Wikimedia resources, then it's up to you. You found it, please have the courage to fix it (be bold). At the other extreme is to put the whole page up for deletion (AfD) on Wikipedia, (RfD) on Wikiversity, each Wikimedia resource may have its own version.

Public domain


Works in the public domain are those whose intellectual property rights have expired,[16] have been forfeited,[17] or are inapplicable.

Short quotation


Here the word 'short' means something less than quoting the full written work. "[T]he right of quotation and criticism ... is a basic prerequisite of any journalist's or scientist's works."[18] "This right should also be effectively protected under the conditions of DRM [Digital Rights Management] and access to the relevant information should not be prevented by technical measures."[18]

"According to Copyright Law of the United States: ... Short quotations of a copyrighted publication may be reproduced without permission in books, articles, and other publications. This is often interpreted as fewer than 250 words (in total) from a book-length work or less than 5% of a journal article."[14] Just to illustrate: all of the quotes from More[14] total 160 words of a total of 5704; i.e., 2.81%. While this is above my preferred less than 2% rule, it is below the 285 words of the 5% rule indicated.

"[T]he French copyright act recognise[s] a right of short quotation".[18] But, "the complete representation of a protected work [is] not covered by the right to make short quotations."[18]

An older ruling by the Landgericht Berlin (District Court) in 1960 indicated that there are "statutory exceptions for quotation" with respect to copyright law.[18] But, "the German Copyright Act [does] not allow quoting protected works in their integrity in the press."[18] "[A]n integral reproduction of caricatures must be allowed under special circumstances, such as political debates, where the possibility to quote the political adversary is necessary."[18]

From the German Constitutional Court back in 1978, of the legislator, "He shall bring into just equation and balance the constitutionally guaranteed requirement of a reasonable use of the creative accomplishment and the interests of the general public worthy of protection".[18] This statement is to provide guidance for resolving conflicts "between the individual proprietary interests and the general cultural, social and political interests arising in the digital environment."[18]

"Considering that DRM systems will most probably affect the general conditions of intellectual freedom in democratic societies this issue is too important to be left to the industry to determine."[18] The Supreme Court of Austria "the (OGH) on 3 October 2000" noted "the exception for the use of copyright protected works in quotations." in the Austrian Copyright Act.[18]

Over on Wikiquote are several quotation guidelines (unreferenced):

  1. Length of quotes - "a maximum of 250 words per quote", that's about 20-25 lines from a journal article,
  2. Books - "[a] recommended maximum of five lines of prose or eight lines of poetry for every ten pages of a book not in the public domain. This is equal to about 1.25% of the total content of a book."
  3. "Adding unsourced quotes to articles will be reverted." - plagiarism!

On Harper & Row v. Nation Enterprises/Dissent Brennan are many excellent points regarding use of quotations (Fair Use) by Supreme Court Justice Brennan. Also, Harper & Row v. Nation Enterprises/Opinion of the Court contains a few additional, albeit limited points. The case was actually focused on using quotes prior to original publication as a violation of copyright, but the justices took the opportunity to clarify the fair use issue to some extent.


  1. Dominant group probably originated at least a century earlier than Kirby's use in 1826.

See also



  1. Connel MacKenzie (27 April 2005). attribution. San Francisco, California: Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. Retrieved 2016-03-22. 
  2. Muke (27 August 2005). copyright. San Francisco, California: Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. Retrieved 2016-03-22. 
  3. Widsith (21 June 2011). policy. San Francisco, California: Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. Retrieved 2016-03-22. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 Abd (September 29, 2011). "Requests for Deletion#Dominant group and subpages". Retrieved 2011-12-21. {{cite web}}: |author= has generic name (help)
  5. CRoslof (11 February 2016). Fair Use need for rationale on Wikiversity. San Francisco, California: Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. Retrieved 2016-03-22. 
  6. (9 February 2007). copyright infringement. San Francisco, California: Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. Retrieved 2016-03-22. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Maddox (1995). "Copyright Violation and Personal Liability in Education: A Current Look at “Fair Use”". BYU Education & Law Journal 97. Retrieved 2011-09-13. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 Judy Anderson (1998). Plagiarism, Copyright Violation and Other Thefts of Intellectual Property An Annotated Bibliography with a Lengthy Introduction. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc.. pp. 201. ISBN 0-7864-0463-9. 
  9. S Larctia (September 23, 2011). Requests for Deletion#Dominant group and subpages. Retrieved 2011-10-09. 
  10. Marshallsumter (September 24, 2011). Requests for Deletion#Dominant group and subpages. Retrieved 2011-09-28. 
  11. Intellectual Property Licensing: Forms and Analysis, by Richard Raysman, Edward A. Pisacreta and Kenneth A. Adler. Law Journal Press, 1998-2008. ISBN 9781588520869
  12. Mossoff, A. 'Rethinking the Development of Patents: An Intellectual History, 1550-1800,' Hastings Law Journal, Vol. 52, p. 1255, 2001
  13. Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Isaac McPherson (August 13, 1813)
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 14.4 Trupti More, Vandana Shelar (March 2011). Plagiarism and Copyright Violation: A Need of Information Literacy Framework towards Ethical Use of Information, In: INFLIBNET's Convention Proceedings. INFLIBNET Centre. ISBN 978-93-81232-01-9. Retrieved 2011-09-17. 
  15. Stephen Marshall and Maryanne Garry (2005). H. Goss. ed. How well do students really understand plagiarism, In: Balance, Fidelity, Mobility: Proceedings of the 2005 ASCILITE Conference. Brisbane, Australia: Queensland University of Technology. pp. 457-67. Retrieved 2011-09-13. 
  16. James Boyle (2008). The Public Domain: Enclosing the Commons of the Mind. CSPD. pp. 38. ISBN 0300137400. 
  17. Christoph Beat Graber and Mira Burri Nenova (2008). Intellectual Property and Traditional Cultural Expressions in a digital environment. Edward Elgar Publishing. pp. 173. ISBN 1847209211. 
  18. 18.00 18.01 18.02 18.03 18.04 18.05 18.06 18.07 18.08 18.09 18.10 Christoph Beat Graber (2005). Christoph Beat Graber. ed. Copyright and Access - A Human Rights Perspective, In: Digital Rights Management: The End of Collecting Societies. Bern: Staempfli Publishers. pp. 71-110. Retrieved 2011-09-17. 

Further reading

  • David Schmidtz (2006). The Elements of Justice. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-53936-6. 

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