document ownership/plagiarism (kind of long)

Subject: document ownership/plagiarism (kind of long)
From: Stephanie Holland <SLHOLLAND -at- MICRONPC -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 21 Oct 1997 16:18:47 -0600

Hi --

I manage a technical communication group in an Information Systems
Department. Nearly all the work we do is used inside our company. For
example, the computer programmers in our department write applications
that help our company operate. We writers document these applications in
the form of online help and user guides to help our co-workers use these
applications to do their jobs.

People who aren't writers from other departments in our company are
occasionally copying large sections of our documents and creating other
documents with them. For example, we wrote a quick reference guide to
help people switch from NT 3.51 to NT 4. We published the guide in HTML
on our intranet.

We recently discovered that another department printed this document out
but first deleted a few parts -- one of those parts is the sentence that
lists our group's name and phone number and our request for people to
call us if they have questions or suggestions about the document.
Another department did something similar because it wanted to reformat
the document and store it in a special location specific to that

This bugs me for various reasons:

* We can't determine usability or find out about errors if our name and
phone number are removed from a document because readers won't know who
wrote it.

* I feel this is a form of plagiarism, even though the company owns
these documents and we all work for the same company.

* There is a chance for document quality to be reduced if people start
altering our work.

My co-worker disagrees with me. He believes that as long as people are
using the information, what does it matter if a few things are changed?

Has anyone else run into this situation? Anyone have any opinions?

Thanks in advance,

Stephanie Holland
Micron Electronics
slholland -at- micronpc -dot- com

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