How To Reference a Copyrighted Book

Intellectual property is a serious matter these days. Because of the Internet, a lot of information is now accessible online, and in many cases, material can even be downloaded directly from online sources. This can be through different means, though, and not all is legal. And so copyright infringement is rampart, and this includes movies, songs and even books.

The mistake of many blogs and websites is that they copy content from other copyrighted works like books and songs, and even other websites without appropriate citations. The same goes for academic research. If you are doing research, or simply writing an article, and you will be citing a reference to a copyrighted book, there are several ways by which you can do it properly.

MLA citation. The MLA citation stands for the Modern Language Association's style of citing previously published material. The MLA style has prescriptions for referencing different types of media, actually, including books, websites, and even broadcast material.

When citing a book in MLA format, the following is used:

  • Author Surname, First Name. Title. Place of Publication: Publisher, Year.
  • The name of the author should be surname first, then followed by a comma, then the first name(s). If there are multiple authors, then a comma should separate the name of each author, with the primary author-usually listed in the book first-comes first. If there is no author listed, then the title comes first. This is particularly useful when citing articles or books anonymously published.
  • When you are citing a particular chapter or article within a book, the following format is used:

    Author Surname, First Name. "Title of Chapter or Article." Title of Book. Place of Publication: Publisher, Year. Start page-End page.

  • In the MLA citation, the list is arranged alphabetically by author, and all the lines are double-spaced. Moreover, only the first lines of each item should be left-flushed. The succeeding lines (second line onwards) should be indented five spaces from the left.

 APA citation. The APA stands for the American Psychological Association. The APA format details how you can cite reference in-line and on a bibliography. When referencing a book in-line, you have the following choices. These are actual examples by which you can cite a publication from within the text of your study or article.

  • You can reference information stated in a book by adding the author's name and year of publication in parentheses (Author, 2008).
  • Author (2008) says you can also directly cite his surname by adding the year of his book's publication in a parenthesis after.
  • In 2008, Author also discusses how you can simply state the year of publication, and then his surname when citing his book or publication.
  • When you cite books this way, be sure to also include the citation in your bibliography. The APA style uses this format:

    Author, A.B.C. (Year). Title of the Book. Place of Publication: Publisher.

  • Or, if you are citing a chapter or article from within a book, this is the format used:

    Author, A.B.C. (Year). Title of the Article. In X. Editor (Ed.), Title of the Book (pp. start page-end page). Place of Publication: Publisher.

  • In the APA style, the author's first names are represented by initials-in these above examples A.B.C. and X.

Remember, a work of art or any written work, once published, automatically falls under copyright, except for a few exceptions. For instance, copyright lapses 75 years after publication or 50 years after an author's death, depending on the country. Those works, therefore, fall under public domain. Also, there are works wherein the author expressly waives away his copyright, and these could include "creative commons" works, or works directly released to public domain, such as government documents, for instance.

In any case, whenever you are citing material that is not originally your own creation, it makes sense to provide adequate citation. This is both for the benefit of the original author, and for readers of your material who might want to do further research based on your own sources.


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