Plagiarism vs Copyright Infringement
The difference between copyright infringement and plagiarism stems from the very concept of each. The terms copyright infringement and plagiarism represent two important concepts in relation to artistic, literary, dramatic and/or other works. Given the rapid development in technology and the extensive use of the internet today, the importance of these terms is even greater. At first glance, it might be difficult to distinguish between copyright infringement and plagiarism. Indeed, it does not help that the terms are sometimes used interchangeably. Let’s examine their meanings in detail before identifying the difference.
What is Copyright Infringement?
A copyright is a form of protection or an exclusive right afforded to owners or creators of intellectual property. It essentially protects the expression of a person’s idea. An Infringement refers to the violation of a particular rule, law, or right. Collectively, a Copyright Infringement refers to a violation of this exclusive right accorded to the owner of a particular work. This violation typically occurs through the unauthorized or prohibited use of intellectual property such as literature, music, videos, photos, computer software and any other original work. In short, the owner’s permission or consent was not sought prior to use of the work.
The key element required to establish a claim of copyright infringement is that the work must have been protected by copyright. Copyright allows the owner of a creative work to reproduce, distribute, display, perform or even to produce derivative works of his/her creation. Thus, a Copyright Infringement occurs when another person or organization exercises the above rights, such as reproducing or performing the work, without the owner’s permission. Copyright infringement typically occurs in the entertainment industry, more specifically, music and films.
A recent example of copyright infringement is the claim that the song ‘Happy’ by Pharell Williams is a reproduction or derivative work of a song by Marvin Gaye. Copyright infringement is proved by way of circumstantial evidence. Thus, the evidence must demonstrate that there is a substantial similarity between the original work and the copy and that the person copying had access to the original work. If each work was created through the original efforts of its creator, then despite the fact that they may look or sound similar, it does not constitute an infringement. Copyright infringement results in legal consequences wherein the owner will file action in a court of law seeking the remedy of injunction. Damages may also be awarded.
What is Plagiarism?
Plagiarism refers to the theft or appropriation of another person’s literary creation and making such material sound as one’s own creation. Literary work encompasses a number of things such as ideas, excerpts from a book, research paper, thesis or article, poems and other such similar works. In simple terms, it means stealing another person’s writing and claiming the credit of that writing for yourself. Students, journalists, writers and academics are well acquainted with the term Plagiarism. Indeed, the internet has become a popular source from which people steal, extract and use another’s literary work as their own. Plagiarism is not a legal concept like copyright infringement. Instead, it focuses on the morals and ethics of a person.
The simple function of ‘copy-paste’ has been misused and abused by many people to reproduce someone else’s work as their own without giving the original author any credit at all. Thus, for example, A steals B’s poem for a class project and makes it out to be her (A’s) own creation. Today, schools, universities and other such institutions have taken precautions against plagiarism by introducing and implementing certain rules and regulations in relation to the reproduction or extraction of another person’s work. Such rules are given further importance and weight by the strict implementation of using proper formatting styles. In this respect, references, bibliographies, citations and footnotes all play a vital role in ensuring that plagiarism is avoided. Any person guilty of plagiarism will be subjected to severe penalties which may include either receiving zero marks on assignments, suspension from school or even the course or expulsion.
Plagiarism is typically a form of misrepresentation in that you represent or make out to others, mistakenly or even fraudulently, that the work is your own creation. A person guilty of plagiarism is also viewed as a dishonest person lacking important morals such as integrity. Plagiarism is not a crime; however, it is not without consequence. This is because plagiarism severely damages a person’s reputation and credibility, and undermines his/her ability. Examples of plagiarism include when a person quotes another’s idea without acknowledging that person or using quotation marks, reproducing extracts of passages from a literary work without properly citing such passages or providing references, and of course, paraphrasing someone else’s ideas without attributing credit to that person. Plagiarism differs from copyright infringement in that it covers even material that is not protected by copyright.
What is the difference between Plagiarism and Copyright Infringement?
The difference between copyright infringement and plagiarism essentially lies in the nature and effect of the two terms.
• Definition of Plagiarism and Copyright Infringement:
• A copyright infringement refers to a violation of the exclusive right accorded to the owner of a particular work.
• Plagiarism, on the other hand, is essentially a theft that occurs when a person takes credit for a work he/she did not write at all or when he/she does not properly cite the original author of the work or text.
• Concept of Copyright Infringement and Plagiarism:
• A copyright infringement occurs through the unauthorized or prohibited use of intellectual property. That is when another person or organization reproduces, displays, or performs the work of another without the owner’s permission or consent.
• Plagiarism occurs when a person quotes another’s idea without acknowledging that person or using quotation marks, reproducing extracts of passages from a literary work without properly citing such passages or providing references, or paraphrasing someone else’s ideas without attributing credit to that person.
• Copyright infringement is a legal concept. It is a crime.
• Plagiarism is not a legal concept. Instead, it focuses on the morals and ethics of a person. Plagiarism is not a crime.
• Protection and Claim:
• To establish a claim of copyright infringement, the work must have been protected by copyright.
• Plagiarism covers even material that is not protected by copyright. To avoid plagiarism issue one should correctly use proper formatting styles and attribute to the original work.
• Proof and Punishment:
• Copyright infringement is proved by way of circumstantial evidence and results in legal consequences.
• There are many software tools to detect plagiarism and the person guilty of plagiarism will be subjected to severe penalties such as giving zero marks on assignments, suspension from school or even the course or expulsion. .
• Examples of Copyright Infringement and Plagiarism:
• Examples of copyright infringement include when a person performs a song without the owner’s (creator of the song) permission.
• An example of plagiarism is when a person reproduces an article found on the internet and claims it as his own work.
- Plagiarism and copyright infringement by MLauba (CC BY-SA 3.0)
- Plagiarism by Carrot Lord (CC BY-SA 3.0)