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What is plagiarism and what are the consequences of it?

Many people have heard of plagiarism, especially as it relates to academia but what is it and what are the repercussions of it? Often people have plagiarism confused with copyright infringement and while they may be related, they are not the same.

What is plagiarism?

Plagiarism is when a person uses other person’s words, work or ideas without giving the author of those works credit. Plagiarism is seen more like an ethical offence instead of a legal one, although it can form the basis of a copyright infringement claim.

Plagiarism can range from anything like paraphrased material that hasn’t been credited to the source, copying material word for word from journals, books, internet sites, and copying work from another student or employee.

Plagiarism isn’t limited to the written word. You can also plagiarize images, or graphs, presentations and a lot more.

What consequences face someone who commits plagiarism?

While the consequences are not legal, if a student is found to commit plagiarism at a university or college, the student will usually be harshly disciplined. Consequences can vary but usually include such punishments as: failing a course, being suspended or reprimanded. Often these events will show up on the student’s transcripts as well as cause difficulty in his or her future.

If someone commits plagiarism at work, the consequences can also be disciplined. Depending on the seriousness of the plagiarism, the employee would likely be disciplined through a warning, suspension or may even be let go.

What is the difference between plagiarism and copyright infringement?

The major difference is that copyright infringement is actually a legal offence, whereas plagiarism isn’t.

However, that is not to say that plagiarism and copyright infringement cannot occur at the same time. If a plagiarized transgression involves copyrighted material, then it can be both.

Copyright in Canada is protected through the Copyright Act.

The act states: “It is an infringement of copyright for any person to do, without the consent of the owner of the copyright, anything that by this Act only the owner of the copyright has the right to do.” This can include doing things like selling, renting or trading, etc., the work of others without their consent.

If a person takes material that has a copyright on it and uses it without permission from the copyright holder or distributes this person’s work then this person may be charged with copyright infringement, which is a federal offence for which a person can be sued and/or held criminally liable.

The point is, not all material is protected by copyright. For example, if you use the original work of Jane Austin or William Shakespeare, there usually cannot be copyright infringement, because the copyright term has long expired for these works. However, it will still be considered plagiarism and will be punished as such.

If you have been accused of plagiarism or copyright infringement consult a lawyer.

Read more:

Avoiding Plagiarism Simon Fraser University

Differences Between Copyright Infringement And Plagiarism