Can these be considered plagiarism?

I have read the Inspiration vs Plagiarism Consolidated Discussion thread and yet, I am still unsure if these can be considered plagiarism.

First Case

This feels the most plagiaristic.

I wrote this paragraph in my WIP.

The Solarin priest continues to talk, unfazed, “We don’t know who created this world, Its fields and forests, vales and mountains, flowery meadows and flashing seas, but we know, who powers them, who gives them energy. The Sun.
Joyfully, we adore this truth, the truth of glory and love. Hearts unfold like flowers before it, opening to the Sun above. Sol melts the clouds of sin and sadness, drives the dark of doubt away, gives us eternal gladness and fills us with the light of day. All the works of creation with joy, surround it. Earth and Heaven reflects its rays. Comets and stars sing around it. The center of unbroken praise”.

This was inspired(?) by a hymn called “The Hymn of Joy” by Henry van Dyke. Here is the relevant portion (you can listen to it on youtube,. It is set to Beethoven’s ninth symphony)

1 Joyful, joyful, we adore You,
God of glory, Lord of love;
Hearts unfold like flow’rs before You,
Op’ning to the sun above.
Melt the clouds of sin and sadness;
Drive the dark of doubt away;
Giver of immortal gladness,
Fill us with the light of day!
2 All Your works with joy surround You,
Earth and heav’n reflect Your rays,
Stars and angels sing around You,
Center of unbroken praise;
Field and forest, vale and mountain,
Flow’ry meadow, flashing sea,
Chanting bird and flowing fountain
Praising You eternally!

I really love this and due to its beginning’s connection with nature, I bended it and made it centered around the Sun or Sol Invictus.

(Here a priest is telling the MC about sun worship. The cult of Sol Invictus was a real cult during roman times)

Is this plagiarism? I didn’t think much of it when I wrote it but now I am having second thoughts.

Second Case

I haven’t written this yet, and I don’t want to write it, if it will be plagiarism.

In my WIP, your the heir to a empire and this empire has regional languages. Instead of making up gibberish, I decided to use real world languages, one of them is Italian.

So when MC goes to see opera in that regional language, this will be shown.

Non più andrai, farfallone amoroso,
Notte e giorno d’intorno girando,
Delle belle turbando il riposo,
Narcisetto, Adoncino d’amor.
Delle belle turbando il riposo,
Narcisetto, Adoncino d’amor.
Non piu avrai questi bei penacchini,
Quel cappello leggiero e galante,
Quella chioma, quell’aria brillante,
Quel vermiglio donnesco color!
Quel vermiglio donnes color!
Non piu avrai quei penacchini,
Quel cappello
Quella chioma, quell’aria brillant
Non più andrai, farfallone amoroso,
Notte e giorno d’intorno girando,
Delle belle turbando il riposo,
Narcisetto, Adoncino d’amor.
Delle belle turbando il riposo,
Narcisetto, Adoncino d’amor.
Fra guerrieri, poffar Bacco!
Gran mustacchi, stretto sacco,
Schioppo in spalla, sciabla al fianco,
Collo dritto, muso franco, Un gran casco,…

Now this is Amadeus Mozart’s work. One part of my mind thinks it won’t be plagiarism because no one would think that this is my work (it is after all, a well known part of one of the most famous operas of Mozart), especially when I intend to name the in-game composer “Wolfgang Amadeus”.

The other part of mind tells me that it is still plagiarism, no matter how many people recognize the opera.

Third Case

I have used some quotations of historical figures in my game. An example of this is

The sky cannot brook two Suns, nor the earth two masters.

This is a quote of Alexander the great. I didn’t use these exact words, mine were

‘The sky can not bear two Suns, likewise the Earth can not bear two masters’

I don’t think using quotes is plagiarism but I may be wrong.

It would be really helpful to know if these are plagiarism. I would remove them from my WIP and avoid it in the future.


For the first, and second cases, I’d check the source materials’ copyright status; they’re both old enough that they could be in the public domain. If they aren’t, you merely need to check in with the ones who hold those rights to determine how much literal referencing is too much.

The same is also true of quotes since they’re meant to be heard by everyone to convey an idea, or concept.

To me, a random passersby, it seems fine, and even could be taken as a resource pointing to the originals to get them more attention from the wider masses who might ask what inspired select points in your story.


The Hymn of Joy is in public domain and I am pretty sure Mozart’s opera Le nozze di Figaro is also in public domain. (It is 235 years old so it must be)

But I want to know is if it is ethical to add them.


A highly visible credits page citing the original sources, maybe? Making something that is obscure to some more visible could be taken as free advertising for the older classics you’re drawing from.

If your quibbles are on the ethics, that is a question you’ll likely have to ask yourself, since my take it fairly straightforward; if you’re not breaking the law/infringing on someone’s rights, or hurting them in any meaningful way, then you aren’t doing anything wrong.


I think Alexander would be pleased to know people are quoting him 2300 years later lol

I wouldn’t call any of these plagiarism. As said above it would all be public domain, which as far as I’m concerned means it’s MEANT to be shared.


None of those three examples are plagiarism.


If using old public domain stuff as a jumping-off point was plagiarism, Study in Steampunk and Courting Miss Bennett would be in real trouble. As would I if I ever publish my WIP.


It actually isn’t — Mozart was a composer, not a librettist.

More on topic, I agree with everyone else that none of your examples are going to get you in trouble. I myself would rather come at it from the angle of whether it’s improving the story to have those excerpts in: the Miss Bennet HG, for instance, suffers from borrowing so heavily from the source material that any additions stand out like a sore thumb.

For this reason, I think it’s safer to stick to quoting / referencing one or two lines at a time, like in your third example. Reading the first and second, I’m wondering:

  1. Why does the priest speak in rhyming verse?

  2. Is it really necessary to quote the lyrics so extensively? Surely those who know the opera will get the reference with a couple of lines, and those who don’t won’t be getting anything out of them unless they also know Italian. Though I could see this working if used for effect, like having the MC’s thoughts / actions interspersed with the lyrics, so if that was your plan, just ignore me. :stuck_out_tongue:


Thanks! It was most most helpful.

The reason why the priest is speaking in rhyming verse is because he is based on a real life preacher who rhymes his sentences for dramatic effects.
The real life preacher speaks Urdu and it is quite common practice in Urdu to use rhyming words or verses, even every day people do that in their conversations.
I guess his implied dramatics did not translate to English.

I wanted to intersperse the opera with the bickering of MC’s parents, good to know that it could work :smiley:

And you are right. It was written by Lorenzo Da Ponte not Mozart.

@Ixtli feels good to please Alexander the great.


You need to check what’s in the public domain. I would assume quotes from alexandera the great, and Mozart’s work (if unaltered from the original) would well and truly fit that category. There’s a reason why there’s millions of coffee mugs out there with quotes from Gandhi and Confucius out there. It’s not just because they’re quotable, it’s also because companies can print it word for word without having to pay royalties. You may use and mix public domain work as you like.

If it’s material still under copyright however (and that includes quotes from living people and be really careful of anything appropriated by Disney in particular as they’ve moved the laws around) you cannot use it unless they have agreed to put it under a CC that allows it. You can be generally “inspired” but it must be your own work and not recognisable as copied from the original if you want to avoid copyright issues. I did put up a post about using quotes ages ago, but not sure where it is.

Examples: It’s fine to use the original little mermaid fairy tale as inspiration to write your own.
It’s definitely not ok to use Disney’s interpretation of the little mermaid as a strong inspiration however.

You can quote Mozart to your heart’s content, but you can’t quote the Beetles.


Yep. I had to do a fair bit of research on what was old timey Cinderella versus what was added by the House of Mouse.


Yeah, I’ve always found it ironic that Disney has fought so hard to keep their stuff out of the public domain past the normal expiry date and enforce any hint of copyright violation so vigerously, when so much of Disney’s properties were actually built largely on public domain work :woman_shrugging: Have to be really careful when using any of the fairy tails they’ve grabbed that you can back up that anything you’ve used was in the older storyline.