What is the difference between plagiarism and copyright infringement?

February 1st, 2017

Reading time about 13 min

Copying ideas, text, images, notes from music, and more all are considered to be copyright infringement. But not all cases of copyright infringement are actually plagiarism. It’s important to understand which case you may be encountering so you know how to deal with it in the next steps. Here, we’ll explain the difference between plagiarism and copyright infringement.

Copyright Infringement

Simply stated, copyright infringement occurs when someone infringes upon your protected work. What does that mean? If you wrote, drew, musically produced, or designed something, without a copyright owner’s permission, it results in copyright infringement. This is why it is more and more common to hear about fashion designers whose unique designs have been infringed upon and are a violation of their rights.

While we are on the topic of copyright infringement, it is a good idea to go through the types of copyright infringement and the various cases they might apply. There are two major types:

  1. Primary Infringement: Most people are familiar with this type. As the name suggests, primary copyright infringement is charged against the person when he or she is directly involved in the appropriation of content without the creator’s consent. It must be noted that the appropriated content must be something substantial like a piece of music, a paragraph from an article, or a concept from a story.
  2. Secondary Infringement: A person may be charged with copyright violations, even if he or she is not directly involved in the act. This is called secondary infringement. The act of funding the appropriation, allowing such acts to happen within one’s own property with his or her consent, etc., are all considered to be acts of violation.

What is Plagiarism?

Plagiarism is the act of stealing someone else’s words or ideas and using them as your own. There are many different types of plagiarism but the idea is the same. Taking someone’s words intentionally or not and not giving them credit is considered plagiarism.

One of the most common instances plagiarism is found, is in student school work. In an effort to complete an assignment quickly, students copy and paste and substitute a few words in order to make it appear they have written it. This is normally apparent to teachers and they are able to tell the voice does not belong to the student, but rather a Wikipedia page or another site from the internet.

Another case, is content-oriented companies like online publishers and blogs that have scraped the internet with bots taking specific kinds of content and using it on their site. This is common and may take months for the original author to realize it is happening (typically due to Google rankings).

What Are the 3 Common Types of Plagiarism?

Plagiarisms are of various types and the most common ones are discussed below.

  • Word-for-Word Plagiarism: This type of plagiarism is generally found in most academic papers. When the issue of plagiarism started developing, people usually copied and pasted content from the Internet without making many changes to the content. Most older versions of plagiarism checker tools were created based on this type of plagiarism. As time passed by, plagiarists started improving on them and came up with unique methods to defy these tools.
  • Patch-Writing: Patch-writing is a method developed after the invention of plagiarism checkers. Before these tools emerged, there was no easy way of avoiding plagiarism. With the introduction of the plagiarism tool, people could no longer copy and paste content. To avoid being caught, plagiarists would replace words with their synonyms or delete random words between sentences, thus making it harder for the thesis checker to find out copied content in their papers.
  • Lack of Citations: Citations act as a credit to the author of the original work. as well as a way of providing further references to the readers. Lack of citations means you are not crediting the author and his work, thus implying that you are stealing the content. After all, plagiarism not only questions the originality of the content, but also the author’s integrity.

These the most important types of plagiarism that you have to keep in mind while writing an article.

How Does this Work in Educational & Business Units?

Plagiarism, as well as copyright violation, has always been a public issue since the early 2000s. There are thousands of cases regarding copyright infringement, which involved two companies, publishers, producers, and lots more. When compared to plagiarism, breach of copyright seems like a much greater threat as cases regarding plagiarism do not come to light. Moreover, most creators have made sure to copyright their creations, and therefore, plagiarizing them would attract copyright claims.

Plagiarism is much more of an academic threat rather than a public threat as they are most often found in academic papers and doctorate thesis, and many a time, they are dealt with within the academic institution itself. This is why a majority of us have heard about copyright claims and not much about plagiarism. Still, there are a number of plagiarism cases out and about, especially in the comic book industry. Some of the examples are Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Green Arrow, etc. In the end, both the issues attract serious consequences regardless of where it is committed.

Find out if your work has been plagiarized with a free scan.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  • How do you know if you are plagiarizing or violating copyright?

Though both plagiarism and copyright infringement seem the same, there are some key differences between them. The easiest way to explain the difference between the two is that copyright violation is a legal violation, while the breach of plagiarism rules questions a person’s ethics and commitment. Copyright violation mostly involves the exact recreation of work, but plagiarism, on the other hand, also includes the use of ideas, concepts, sentence structure, etc., without citing the original work.

  • What is the difference between plagiarism and copying?

Copying someone’s work involves copying and pasting content. It must be noted that copying is also a form of plagiarism. Even if you did not copy the content as it is, if it has similarities in meaning, sentence formation, or ideas, it is considered plagiarism. As long as you document your references properly, you can add some ideas and points from the original work.

  • Is an act of plagiarism always a copyright infringement?

The content is said to be plagiarized when a person has taken points from the original work without crediting its author. Under the copyright act, the permission to recreate the work solely remains in the hands of the owner, and recreation of the work in any manner will result in the infringement of copyright. In other words, plagiarism does not always result in a breach of copyright.

Love what you read? ❤️

Subscribe to our newsletter