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Where Did You Hear That?

Where Did You Hear That?

If you read something in the public domain, e.g., a newspaper or magazine, hard copy or electronic, you may use the facts therein. For example, you may use an article on Airbus’s retiring its huge A380 to make a point that they lost money trying to compete with Boeing’s 747 and misread the public’s preferences for types of aircraft. However, if you use the words or models or specific examples in the article, you must provide attribution, including the author if the name is included, as well as the publication. You can’t take other people’s words and use them as your own without attribution (and, in some cases, their permission).

If you learn something while working with a client that is not in the public domain—for example, a failed product test or an intent to expand to Europe—you may not use that since it’s confidential information you learned while in the “employ” of the client. If you use such information to buy and sell the client’s stock, you could be arrested for “insider trading.”

Be careful, you don’t want to be seen as a plagiarist on the one hand, or to lose a client (and perhaps be sued or arrested) on the other.

Written by

Alan Weiss is a consultant, speaker, and author of over 60 books. His consulting firm, Summit Consulting Group, Inc., has attracted clients from over 500 leading organizations around the world.

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