This article is a guide to help you differentiate between plagiarism and copyright. It may seem the same when you look at it from a non-legal perspective, but there are substantial differences.

So, let’s begin-

What is Plagiarism?

Plagiarism refers to using other people’s ideas or work without crediting the source. This means that you are not giving credit to the original creator of the work or idea. Instead, you present the idea or thought as yours. Just plagiarism is not against the law, nor does it violate any form of intellectual property right. Nevertheless, it is an ethical construct that academic institutions most often enforce.

Academic plagiarism can lead to a failing grade or even the cancellation of a degree. Plagiarism does not only affect academic settings. It can also have severe consequences in the professional world. These include damaging the reputation of the plagiarizer and, in some cases, termination or difficulty finding employment.

Plagiarism Examples

· Citing someone’s words from the Internet, an article printed in a newspaper or magazine, or an interview without acknowledging their author.

· Paraphrasing is too dependent on the syntax or language of another person.

· Falsely creating a citation that doesn’t exist.

· Copying a portion of work without citing its source.

· Paraphrasing without crediting and citing someone else’s ideas or thoughts.

· Copying or buying a paper and then handing it in as your own.

At its core, copyright is an intellectual property right and belongs to the set of rights that belong to the creator/owner of a work of authorship that is unique and fixed in a tangible media of expression. The set of rights is automatically granted to anyone who creates a work of authorship, such as a song, literary work, film, or photograph.

Thus, copyright is a legal rule that balances creators’ rights to financial and intellectual benefits with users’ rights to use those works. Through these rights, the copyright owner get control over who, what, where, and how their work is used.

This includes the right to reproduce, prepare derivative works, distribute copies and perform the work publicly.

Copyright infringement is when one party acts in a way that violates any of the above rights without authorization from the copyright owner. It includes copying or using a significant portion of someone else’s work without permission.

Copyright violations include using a book’s copy for unauthorized purposes or copying too much of it without permission, even if you have attributed it. Copyright infringement can have serious legal consequences, including injunctions and monetary damages. Criminal penalties may apply in extreme cases.

Copyright and plagiarism share a lot in common. Many things that could be plagiarized can be copyrighted. Most plagiarism involves creative or academic work. These types of works are usually eligible for copyright protection if they are new. Many plagiarisms, however, are copyright infringements.

Plagiarizing a blog post for a new website, copying an article from an encyclopedia without credit for a book report, or sending a photo someone else took to a magazine under your name are all examples of plagiarism. The legal framework of copyright law can address many plagiarisms. For example, takedown notices usually remove online plagiarized content.

Commercial plagiarisms, such as in software and advertisements, are often dealt with through lawsuits. But not all plagiarisms can be considered copyright infringements. Although there is a lot in common, there are many areas where they differ.

The difference between plagiarisms and copyright infringements is that not all plagiarisms can be considered copyright infringements and vice versa. It is possible to plagiarize any work, even works not under copyright. For example, if you claimed to have written Hamlet, it would be considered plagiarism but not copyright infringement since the play is already in the public domain (a BIG NO, when it comes to IP protection).

Plagiarism can also cover things that aren’t covered by copyright. Plagiarism can occur in ideas, facts, and plot elements, but they don’t generally fall under copyright protection. Noting that permission to use work does not make it infringing, but it may still be plagiarism. A purchase essay can be submitted with permission, which means it is not infringing. However, the work is still considered plagiarism.

It is important to note that most copyright infringements do not depend on the use of the material. For example, giving out copies of a play without permission is most likely an infringement, regardless of whether you try to claim the credit. In addition, although plagiarism can affect the number of damages awarded in a lawsuit, attribution does not make an infringing case legal.

Therefore, it’s possible to infringe a work without plagiarizing it, and it’s equally possible to plagiarize something without committing copyright infringement.

Plagiarism and copyright infringement are sometimes mentioned in the same breath, especially when victims of plagiarism seek justice. However, it is essential to remember that they are two different things. You can think of it this way: Copyright infringement only has one victim: the copyright holder(s), but plagiarism has two victims: the copyright owner(s) as well as the people who were misled about the source of the work.

Another essential thing to remember is that plagiarism can be considered an ethical construct while copyright infringement can be considered illegal. Although they may have some overlap, they aren’t the same and will never be the same from a legal standpoint.

While plagiarism can be a topic of discussion in copyright discussions and vice versa, it is crucial to understand that they are not the same thing in many important ways.

In the words of Merriam-Webster Online, “plagiarism” is the act of stealing and passing off (other people’s ideas or words) as one’s own; use [of] (another’s production) without crediting the source.”

By contrast, “copyright infringement,” occurs “when a copyrighted work is reproduced, distributed, performed, publicly displayed, or made into a derivative work without the permission of the copyright owner.” 

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If you are the victim of plagiarism in a workplace or a University, you may complain about it to the Ethics committee or the HR. However, there is very little recourse that you may take.

If your work has been plagiarised online, you may file for a takedown request. However a takedown request is more viable if you hold copyright over the work.

If you do hold copyright, then you may go for even more tougher actions such as filing a legal suit (both civil and/ or criminal.)