Unfortunately, the Psdtuts+ staff have had to remove a recently published tutorial due to copyright issues. Claims of plagiarism are taken very seriously and thoroughly investigated. After looking into the matter we decided the only appropriate course of action was to delete the tutorial in question and withhold payment from its author. Read on for more details on how we identify plagiarism and how we can make sure this is the last time it happens here.
Why was the tutorial removed?
Each tutorial we publish generally has two components: the author's style and the core technique. After a number of readers claimed that plagiarism had taken place, we examined the tutorial in question and compared it to the tutorial readers claimed had been plagiarized. Though the two tutorials were stylistically different, the core technique in both tutorials was identical, and as such we found that the tutorial published at Psdtuts+ was not an original work.
What did the author say?
The author of the tutorial in question has said that he has not seen the DVD set which features the core technique, though we have reason to suspect this tutorial was based on another text-based online tutorial that plagiarized the DVD. However, regardless of how it happened, we can only look at the core technique in question and ask: is it identical? If the answer is yes, we have no choice but to remove the tutorial from the site and refuse payment. At Psdtuts+ writers are hired on the basis of producing an original tutorial, which has not been fulfilled in this case (whether by accident or deliberately).
What can we learn from this?
It's logistically and financially impossible for us to monitor every Photoshop magazine, DVD, product, blog, course, website and forum, but we are working on ways to pre-empt these issues before they occur.
We also hope that potential contributors will remember to:
Always credit your sources
When you credit your sources, it's clear that you aren't trying to hide something. For tutorial submissions it also lets our editors check that the tutorial is acceptable. Although Sean and I are pretty on the ball, it's impossible to know every image, artist, magazine, so things can slip by. But if you credit your sources we'll be able to make sure you're in the clear.
Use common sense
There are no hard and fast rules about copyright. Beware of "rules" like "copying 40% is OK". There's no such thing. And remember that even aside from exact words or images, it can be the idea or principle. In this case, the images of the tutorial and wording were all original, but it was still apparent that it was not an original tutorial in itself.
Err to the side of caution
I'm no lawyer, but whenever I've dealt with lawyers, I've learned that they are always more cautious than I would be. If you think something might not be OK, then trust your gut and don't do it.
We understand that there are only so many images that can be created with Photoshop, and similarities are bound to occur. However, when a tutorial appears to have been overly influenced by or copied from another tutorial then we must respect the creative work of the original author, as we would want the creative work of our own authors and community members to be respected.
We hope you enjoy the creativity displayed by the authors of the other 150+ original tutorials at Psdtuts+!
Skellie is TUTS Manager at Envato.