Is Plagiarism Illegal?

We hear about crimes on the news all the time. They happen all over the world: murder, robbery, arson, etc. Plagiarism, of course, is less violent than those three examples, but it is still illegal. It can be considered a crime and often leads to serious consequences. You'll be surprised, but the number of students caught plagiarizing is only growing with every passing year. However, cases of copyright infringement are not limited to the field of academic publishing. Many legal cases of professional plagiarism are more frequently becoming known to the public.

Dan Brown, the world-famous author of "The Da Vinci Code" had a lawsuit on his hands in the form of copyright infringement brought on by fellow authors Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh, and Jack Dunn. The latest of similar cases took place in 2017 when a UK law firm accused Brown of stealing the original work of Dunn - "The Vatican Boys," breaking intellectual property law and committing a plagiarism crime. Dan Brown won the trial and did not go to jail, but "The Da Vinci Code" case had significant consequences for Brown's literary career. Many of his readers in the UK and the United States promised not to buy his new books.

Is Plagiarism always Illegal?

Plagiarism is an act of plagiarizing something or using someone else's work without their permission. It is when one takes someone else's words, work, or ideas and passes them off as a product of their own efforts. Plagiarism may occur when a person:

  • Fails to place quotation marks around someone else's exact words;
  • Directly rephrases or paraphrases someone else's words while still following the general form of the original;
  • Fails to use proper citation style or credit the author of the source material.

One of the best higher education institutions in the world, Harvard University, has published the Harvard Guide to using sources and avoiding plagiarism. The modern academic world works hard to avoid plagiarism and copyright violation. Taking someone else's work without crediting can be considered a crime, even if the plagiarized work is a school essay. At the same time, there is a fair use doctrine introduced by the US copyright office. In essence, it permits limited use of copyrighted material without having first to acquire permission from that copyright holder.

To be protected from illegal plagiarism and the consequences it can lead to, check your paper with Educat.

EduCat plagiarism checker designed with users in mind

This tool is useful for higher education institutions and students to detect academic plagiarism or contract cheating. Educat can help you with professional copyright work and with their related ethical issues. Website content is another source that sometimes needs checking, and Educat can help with the work. Anyone can check a paper or an article for free with our checker. It is also very easy to use:

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Keep in mind: copyright experts agree that plagiarism is not always intentional. While working on an assignment or writing a paper, you can borrow ideas from the original work of another person without even knowing that. To avoid this, take proper notes of all of the sources of information you use. Take care of your bibliography and always add internet sources that you reference.

Self-plagiarism is another problem worth mentioning here. Surely one of your ideas can travel among many of your own works, but copying content from one of your own term papers to another, for example, can get you into a lot of trouble as well. If you use your previous work, you should also cite what you used previously. Your readers should know this was not the first time the material was presented, as it can be crucial for the research or the general understanding of the issue.

We do not always view plagiarism as a crime. Although it is not a criminal or civil offense, plagiarism is illegal if it infringes upon authors' intellectual property rights, including copyrights or trademarks. This can result in serious legal issues that will cost you time, money, and reputation. Who would want to be known as a plagiarist?

We have to agree, not a lot of copyright law cases get sent to the Supreme Court, and it remains a problem for experts to identify what things constitute copyright infringement. The border between illegal plagiarism and thoughtless improper citations can be very thin. How can we detect people's work and protect the copyright owner? You can find a lot of advice online - long lists of tips, real-life cases, and examples of strict self-control. But, it is not easy to protect copyright even with all these acquired skills.

In light of this, plagiarism checker software is one of the better solutions. It works by comparing submitted texts against a billion-page database and identifying identical or near-identical passages. It can help you avoid copyright infringement even better than a dozen experts. Try using it, and you'll see it for yourself. Let's finish this text with a bit of humor: "What is plagiarism? - Taking something from one person and making it worse." And that's not what we want, right?