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Copyright VS Plagiarism

Updated on June 3, 2014

Had to remember a few things

Due to technology of today and the availability of the Internet, people are posting their work all over the place. Most hope of making a little money as well as getting out the information they have stored in their heads. When it is found that someone has apparently copied your work, naturally you get upset. Who wouldn’t?

In the course of the last few days I’ve had to re-learn a few things regarding Copyright and the long ago forgotten word Plagiarism. It’s been years since I’ve used that word, let alone remember what it meant. Well that’s not entirely fair, I’ve always known what it meant, just that it was stored in the back of my brain cells for a while.

Copyright Infringement

Let’s define both;

Copyright Infringement
- Copyright is a statutory or common law right of authors, artists, and developers (or other holders of a copyright) to publish their works, and to prevent others from copying their works. Infringement includes the unauthorized or unlicensed copying of a work subject to copyright. For example, Title 17 of the U.S. Code (which pertains to copyrights) defines the exclusive rights of copyright holders. There are also several provisions which create crimes for copyright infringement.

Plagiarism 1 and 2 definitions

1. Plagiarism Definition - Literary theft. Plagiarism occurs when a writer duplicates another writer's language or ideas and then calls the work his or her own. Copyright laws protect writers' words as their legal property. To avoid the charge of plagiarism, writers take care to credit those from whom they borrow and quote.

2. plagiarism - the act of plagiarizing; taking someone's words or ideas as if they were your own

Layman's terms

There is an obvious difference between the two. If someone copies your work in it’s entirety then that would be copyright infringement. If someone copies your idea (such as your title, your url (in it’s entirety as well as adding 1 letter or number), and your sub-titles then that would be plagiarism. Sometimes even just taking someones idea can make it plagiarism, so thinking long and hard about what you write would be a good idea.

This is in regards to writing here on HubPages, either way it is illegal or unethical.

Give proper credit

As a writer I find it unacceptable to copy someone else’s work, I find my own ideas and run with them. If for some reason I like someone else’s work and wish to quote them, then I must give credit where credit is due. I will have their name placed by the quote, or even a link to where you could find their work.

It doesn’t take much to commit Plagiarism, a mere 6 words used or copied can be considered Plagiarism, if you don’t give the proper credit due to the Author/writer.


The two - Copyright infringement and Plagiarism are closely related yet very different, in a court of law. Some examples of the difference may be found here -

Avoid Plagiarism

How to avoid Plagiarism. When quoting someone else’s works use quotations, put their name after the quote. This way there is no question that it is not your work. If using a title or idea that does not belong to you, the best bet would be to STOP and re-think what you are doing.

Is it worth termination?

Plagiarism can be followed to your work place and often is.  If your boss discovers that you are committing plagiarism you will most likely be terminated from your job.  If you are using a website, this too can be flagged.  Particularly if you are trying to earn income from your work.  Isn’t it just easier to come up with your own work rather than copy someone else’s?

Would you rather go down in history as a good writer rather than a writer who can’t write?  If writing is too much of a task for you and you find that you have no good ideas of your own, you might want to head to your local hamburger joint and put in an application.  I’m sure that they could use your good copying skills at flipping burgers!

Don't interrupt someone's creativity!

There is one other thing that you might wish to remember when ‘borrowing’ someone else’s material. Copyright Infringement is against the law and you can be sued for it. Plagiarism is more of an ethical matter, but if it interferes with the creativity of the person from which you are ‘borrowing’, it can be a matter for the Courts.

Are you willing to risk this? Lawsuits, loss of income from work, high cost of Attorney fees. Then to top it all the loss of your good name, because if you should commit Plagiarism or Copyright Infringement, your name will surely be dragged through the mud.

What you can do as a reader

If you have noticed I have not copied or used anyone else’s work without giving proper due.  In each instance I have provided links where each of the words may be found.

If you should by chance come across something that you know has been written by someone else, please notify the original writer of this.  We as readers need to help others in protecting the writers.  If each and every writer were to stop writing, can you imagine the boring world we would live in?  The thoughts and ideas of those wonderful writers out there keep our world just a little more lively!

Do your part!

Remember Be Kind - use your own words, your own ideas. One day you may be put into a position to help a writer out! Or vice versa - they make be in a position to help you out!

If you should come across someone that has committed copyright infringement upon you, you should check out this wonderful Hub from Lillygrillzit titled "Cyber-Crime - How to Help Administrators and Authorities Stop It!".


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    • Healing Touch profile image

      Laura Arne 7 years ago from Minnetonka, MN

      Cool, Minnetonka Twin and I think it would be a hoot to meet you. Your so cool. Keep me updated.

    • Sweetsusieg profile image

      Sweetsusieg 7 years ago from Michigan

      Thanks for stopping by! I was just talking about you two! LOL Hopefully sometime this month I'll get to go on a run. I want to do it before my daughter goes back to work. She's on maternity leave right now, til Dec.

    • Healing Touch profile image

      Laura Arne 7 years ago from Minnetonka, MN


      I think it is very useful you share this on hubpages. I am so sorry this happened to you. We need to use our own original content. I think we can all learn the difference between plagarism and copyright. I have a creative commons but I dont really know how it works. Thanks. By the way, let me know when your coming to MN, as me and minnetonka twin want to get together.

    • Sweetsusieg profile image

      Sweetsusieg 7 years ago from Michigan

      I would say that was an 'iffy' thing. If someone comes to your Hub and says "Hey, that's my work!" Then you at that time may ask permission to use it, if they deny you, then the respectable thing would be to remove it.

      For the most part when you google an image you don't know who created it so you can't ask permission. I have noticed some images that don't allow you to copy. Obviously they don't want them copied and have taken steps to prevent it.

      Good luck Dave!

    • Dave Mathews profile image

      Dave Mathews 7 years ago from NORTH YORK,ONTARIO,CANADA

      Sweetsusieg; Hey there! Nice lesson on ethics in writing. Thank you. I'm curious about something Sue.

      When I write my hubs and I include "Google art work or insert a video music peice, is that a copyright thing?

      Brother Dave.

    • Sweetsusieg profile image

      Sweetsusieg 7 years ago from Michigan

      I know copywrite is given for a time, it eventually expires, but from what I have gathered Plagiarism never does.

      In schools and colleges the penalty for plagiarism is not only failing grades but in some cases grounds for suspension. I had discussed this issue with my daughter after I published this Hub and she said in the school she just graduated from, the penalty was about as bad as anything you could get.

      I had to sign an agreement with Kellogg's when I worked in their test kitchen, not to divulge what I had seen or heard for 3 years.. Their 'ideas' were protected.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

    • dallas93444 profile image

      Dallas W Thompson 7 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

      Executives sign agreements not to share "intellectual property." Microsoft's net worth is mostly intellectual property inside employee's heads... Ideas and concepts conceived and produced should have legal protection for a given time... Thanks for sharing.

    • Sweetsusieg profile image

      Sweetsusieg 7 years ago from Michigan

      LOL - Yes it is!! I never thought of that "mess wit yer chilrens", but that's is very much like it. Kind of like someone walking through your house taking things they like.

      Today is the second time I've heard the term 'Intellectual Property Theft'! Before that had never heard of it.

      GIRL!! We have some SUPER teamwork goin' on here!! LOL

      What a gal you are!! Thank you so much for helping me keep my mind during this ordeal!

    • LillyGrillzit profile image

      Lori J Latimer 7 years ago from The River Valley, Arkansas

      Sweetsusieg! Thank you for bringing awareness to this situation! Thanks for linking to my Hub, there are links available for getting investigators on the case of plagiarism to Intellectual Property Theft. SSG, I just thought of something else. Notify Google AdSense that they may be paying out funds to a fraud! That will stop that person under one identity! Good Work. It is like having someone "mess wit yer chilrens", when this happens. For Shame!