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Avoiding Plagiarism: Copyright Vs. Plagiarism

Plagiarism vs. Copyright Infringement

Copyright infringement includes the unauthorized or unlicensed copying of a work subject to copyright.  (Tech Law Journal)

Plagiarism is using someone else's work or ideas without giving proper credit.  In other words, because you are not giving attribution to the owner of the original work or idea -- you are presenting the idea or thought as your own.

  1. Plagiarism is a violation of academic norms but not illegal; copyright violation is illegal but quite common in academia. 
  2. Plagiarism is an offense against the author; copyright violation is an offense against the copyright holder. In traditional academic publishing, they are usually not the same person, because copyright transfer agreements (CTAs) are so common.
  3. Plagiarism applies when ideas are copied; copyright violation occurs only when a specific fixed expression (e.g., sequence of words, use of an image) is copied.
  4. Avoiding plagiarism is about properly apportioning intellectual credit; copyright is about maintaining revenue streams.

Adapted from Sauropod Vertebra Picture of the Week by Mike Taylor, Matt Wedel, Darren Naish is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

Examples of Plagiarism   (from Jamie Dendy)

  • Quoting someone's words from the Internet, a printed article, or an interview, without acknowledging the author.
  • Copying part of the content of a work into one's own paper without citing the source.
  • Copying or buying a paper and handing it in as one's own.
  • Falsely creating a citation that doesn't exist.
  • Failing to credit and cite someone else's thoughts or ideas when paraphrasing.
  • Paraphrasing in a way that relies too heavily on another's language or syntax.

Learn About Ways to Avoid Plagiarism

See Avoiding Plagiarism