I'm in the process of writing a non-fiction book. The intro of one of my chapters is a story I got from Malcolm Gladwell. It was about Howard Moskowitz and how in the process of finding out the best spaghetti sauce he discovered something interesting. The story fits my point pretty well.
So the question is, can I mention the story in my book? Would I have to mention Malcom Gladwell told this story in a speech? Or can I just mention the story to make my point? What's the best way to approach this?
I think it would be fair to reference the source, wouldn't you?
Were you told the story individually, or at an event?
Is the story well-known? Can you find multiple sources of it? Maybe if it's a broadly known story, retold many times and without a specific source, ie. (the imaginary, since I just made him up) Jim Bennings who was Howard's dorm mate and part time foodie journalist...then you could pretend you came up with it yourself.
Otherwise, and I don't see the downside in doing so, especially as Malcolm is a recognized author, reference the source.
The best way to go about this is to research plagiarism laws. According to LegalZoom, plagiarism would entail:
"If you use another person's work and do not attribute that work to the author, including copying text verbatim, paraphrasing a phrase or summarizing an idea, you are essentially committing plagiarism. Plagiarism usually occurs when a writer fails to:
-cite quotes or ideas written by another author;
-enclose direct text in quotes; or
-put summaries and/or paraphrases in his or her own words."
According to Ithenticate, "Copyright laws are absolute. One cannot use another person’s material without citation and reference" and "In the case where an author sues a plagiarist, the author may be granted monetary restitution."
I would absolutely attribute the story to Gladwell and perhaps even cite the speech in your bibliography, as well, just to be safe.
I've done it in all of my books. Look at Cynthia's comments below. They are correct.
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Ask, Ask, Ask, then Ask again.
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Concentrate on the 3 M's. There are actually 7, but 3 will do for now. These are Market, Message, and Media. They come in that order.
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Tailor your laser focused message for this target market.
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Ask, Ask, Ask. Have thick skin and learn from each "mistake." In a short while, the market will tell you what you need to do and who and what you need to ask. But get started now even if that just means asking a contact on LinkedIn.
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However, sometimes you just need to make a deal.
Listen, in any business you have to take some chances and some risks. Make sure you don't need a license and go for it. Remember, timid business people have skinny kids. Paraphrased from Zig Ziglar.
Best of luck,
Take massive action and never give up.
Michael Irvin, MBA, RN