What Is Plagiarism?

Please read about what is plagiarism if you use any information from this website. It is your responsibility to know how to stay legal, even if it's 'only' a school assignement that you write.

Plagiarism is a little bit different from copyright infringement, so let's have a closer look at what plagiarism actually is, and how is it different from copyright infringement.

What Is Plagiarism and How Is it Different from Copyright Infringement?

Plagiarism and copyright infringement apply to the same kind of situation - copying and pasting somebody else's work, if you intend to just read the text, use the facts and write your own sentences, you are fine for both (when it comes to the policies of this website - your teacher may have other ideas about how to refer etc, that's beyond this website).

The differences between plagiarism, which is unethical, and copyright infringement, which is illegal, are:

* Copyright infringement takes it further. It's using it for more than 20% of the work project, making profit, etc...

* Copyright infringement applies to the material that is copyrighted (this website is, and in fact all IP is).

* Plagiarism is when you use other people's work and don't refer to the author. In schools particularly, you are fine for plagiarism if only you refer to the author properly. In real life, the referring doesn't matter. And that's where copyright infringement comes in. If you copied and pasted the work of someone else, even if you referred, and the author is upset about it, s/he can still sue you. It may not be plagiarism, but it is copyright infringement (which is obviously more serious than plagiarism) whether you referred or not if the author doesn't like what you did and wants to sue you. Nobody would sue a school kid over an assignement that is only seen by so many people in the school, but don't put it onto the internet  if it contains other people's work, even if you referred.

Referring: You don't need to claim it as your own work to get in trouble. It does not matter whether you say it's yours, make it look like it's yours by not saying anything, or say it's not yours by referring to the author. You have still published* someone else's work without a permission from the author, and that's the point with copyright (common practice is to buy the rights from the author).

* "Publishing" in the legal context means as little as showing to a third person. You don't need to be media to do that. Using other people's work as study material in classrooms for example is enough, simple as that.

Read more about what is copyright law.

Both plagiarism and copyright infringement are about direct copy and paste, including later modifications (they don't help - the text was still not written by you from starters).

You can keep it perfectly safe from both plagiarism and copyright infringement by avoiding copy and paste altogether and writing your sentences yourself.

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