Similarly, The Globe and Mail created a gun law chart that borrowed heavily from the Guardian’s gay rights interactive. Globe and Mail didn’t credit the Guardian when the visualization was first uploaded but have since credited the design and layout to the Guardian.

In the end, the code copyright issue may be more about ideas than just lines of symbols.

“I think the cases where plagiarism is most suspected are when someone not only takes your code, but also steals the idea that your code implements,” said Quealy. “It’s really more about ideas for us.”

Correction: This piece originally misspelled Roman Fichman’s last name. CJR regrets the error.

 

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Michael J. Bellantoni and Shiwani Neupane are students at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
Bellantoni is also pursuing an M. I. A. degree at Columbia University. Feel free to reach him at mjb2243@columbia.edu.
Neupane is an author and journalist from Kathmandu, Nepal.