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Is it Plagiarism?

Updated on September 20, 2014

How do I know if I'm plagiarising?

If you have to ask if you're plagiarising, then you most probably are plagiarising.

Intentional thieves, fraudsters and cold blooded scammers know perfectly well what they are doing, but there are some people who have literally no idea that plagiarism is wrong, or even what plagiarism is.

Plagiarism is using someone else's words, sentences, or ideas and passing them off as your own without giving credit to the original source.

The word plagiarism is from Latin, and you can understand the significance if you look at the meaning the ancient Romans gave to plagiarus. It meant to plunder, to loot, or to kidnap.

Let's be clear. When it comes to creating a hub, plagiarism and copyright violations are against the HubPages User Agreement

Terms of Service

Required Reading

It's easy to skip pages like this when you sign up for a publishing service such as HUbPages. If you haven't already read the TOS, please take time to do so. It could save you a lot of bother in the end.

HubPages User Agreement

The relevant paragraph :

  • You may only use Hub Content to which You have the necessary rights, including (but not limited to) intellectual property rights regarding copyright, trademark, and trade secrets. This means, among other things, that You must have permission to use third party content from the content owners.


Plagiarism and Copyright

Are they the same?

Plagiarism is taking the writings or ideas of someone else and publishing them as your own . It's pretending that you are the author or creator. Plagiarism is the ACT.

Copyright is the legal protection provided by international law to the authors of "original works of authorship" in any medium of expression. Copyright is the PROTECTION.

Acknowledging the source of the copyrighted material does not substitute for obtaining permission.


Copyright Violation

Online doesn't mean it's in the Public Domain

These days, almost all things are copyrighted the moment they are written, and no copyright notice is required.

Anything which is published online is not granted to the public domain, and you don't have any permission to copy it .... If it's online it's protected by copyright

Fair use is a complex doctrine meant to allow certain valuable social purposes. Ask yourself why you are republishing what you are posting and why you couldn't have just rewritten it in your own words.

From 10 Big Myths about Copyright Explained, by Brad Templeton

What does Fair Use mean?

Can't I quote someone?

Fair Use is generally defined as Reproduction of short excerpts from a copyrighted work for educational or review purposes. And this is where the problem lies. What's a short excerpt? The distinction between fair use and infringement is very unclear as there is no specific number of words, lines, or notes that may safely be taken without permission.

Fair Use is a concept that needs your common sense. If you're writing a review of a book, for example, it's common practice to quote small sections of text to illustrate a point.

Acknowledging the source of the copyrighted material does not substitute for obtaining permission.

From the US Copyright Office May, 2009

The 1961 Report of the Register of Copyrights on the General Revision of the U.S. Copyright Law cites examples of activities that courts have regarded as fair use: ..

"quotation of excerpts in a review or criticism for purposes of illustration or comment; quotation of short passages in a scholarly or technical work, for illustration or clarification of the author's observations; use in a parody of some of the content of the work parodied; summary of an address or article, with brief quotations, in a news report; reproduction by a library of a portion of a work to replace part of a damaged copy; reproduction by a teacher or student of a small part of a work to illustrate a lesson; reproduction of a work in legislative or judicial proceedings or reports; incidental and fortuitous reproduction, in a newsreel or broadcast, of a work located in the scene of an event being reported."

Does your work include a summary, or brief quotations, is it a news report?

The easiest way to comply with Fair Use regulations is to use as little as possible and only when it's really necessary. Do you really have to quote more than one line of text?


A Common Misconception

I'm not pretending I made it ...

One common misconception is that if you credit the original author when publishing work elsewhere, you are not plagiarising or violating copyright laws.

Suppose you're not pretending that the work is your own? Although you're not plagiarising, it's still a violation of copyright laws if you don't have permission to reproduce it..

Copyright protects the intellectual property of the creator. Copying or plagiarising someone else’s work is theft

FAQ : Are recipes copyright?

In essence, Recipes are not copyright.

Under global copyright law, a list of instructions or method are not copyrightable. But it is important to note the points below.

A list of ingredients is not able to be protected by copyright

The exact wording for a method / or a personal description can be protected by copyright if it is deemed to be 'unique'

Photos not taken by you are Copyright

Recipe Copyright USA 2010 explains ..

Copyright law does not protect recipes that are mere listings of ingredients. ...Copyright protection may, however, extend to substantial literary expression-a description, explanation, or illustration, for example-that accompanies a recipe or formula or to a combination of recipes, as in a cookbook"

It's plain common sense to know that you can't copy the words of someone who is chatty about their Method as, for example, some celebrity chefs, It's plain common sense that when you know nothing about a recipe, you can't copy it.


How to Write your Own Recipe

You can't copy a recipe - but you can do something better..

So you found a great recipe online and you want to make a blog post or create a hub about it. The best thing to do is to try that recipe yourself. Now you can write it up! You have your own experiences to talk about in the Method.

Link to the actual url of where you found that recipe, explaining this is what inspired you. Fabulous! After reading your page I'll probably want to try this recipe myself..

Make it original

What to do as a Writer

The easiest way to avoid plagiarism is to write your own original content.

You don't have to be Shakespeare to write in your own words. Fortunately for readers, we tend to write in simple English on the web, as not many of us have the time, or the inclination, to read an academic paper we chanced across while surfing.

As writers, we are continually engaged with ideas. We read about things which call our attention, we discuss them with friends and family, we google for more information and we end up incorporating those ideas which piqued our interest into our own writing. As a result, it's very important that we give credit where it is due.

Plagiarism is using others' ideas and words without clearly acknowledging the source of that information. Suppose you learned something new, perhaps you found it through a search engine, or from a book, then you should explain where you found it.

It's pretty simple. Ask yourself, "Would I know this if I hadn't read it on that website ?"

If the answer is no, then you must list the source.

Stay within the Law

Use your own ideas, research and words as much as possible.

Never use someone else's work without giving the original author credit.

The Legal Facts in Plain English

Copyright Plain and Simple, Second Edition (Plain & Simple Series)
Copyright Plain and Simple, Second Edition (Plain & Simple Series)

Everyone needs to understand copyright law

All set out clearly here. easy to read and easy to follow.

As it says - Plain and Simple


© 2009 Susanna Duffy

Comments, Queries and Questions

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    • SusannaDuffy profile imageAUTHOR

      Susanna Duffy 

      6 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      @imagelist lm: Most likely 48 quotes?

    • imagelist lm profile image

      imagelist lm 

      6 years ago

      wow...I just scanned this page with a plagiarism checker and it found 48 documents likely make use of the text that you entered...good luck...

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      When writing facts it possible to post a link to the site in a references section or do you have to Harvard reference everything. Sometimes websites don't state the author.

    • Mandy Stradley profile image

      Mandy Stradley 

      7 years ago

      Thanks for the great information!

    • LisaDH profile image


      7 years ago

      Excellent information. I hope everyone will read it carefully.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Great lens. I really get annoyed when someone steals my words or images. I don't understand why they think will get away with it. These days it is very easy to find duplicate content on the web. Cheers!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I agree with your idea about plagiarism. It's so great you have it pointed out.

      Now will be reading about coloring pages and copyright to learn more :)

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      This is so important to know. You make plagiarism clear and easy to understand

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 

      7 years ago from USA

      Very helpful. Adding this to my lens so others can read this. Also checking into coloring pages issues. Thanks.

    • Brandi Bush profile image


      7 years ago from Maryland

      This is great. After reading this and other info on Creative Commons and plagiarism, I definitely need to go check some of my images. So much to learn...Thanks!

    • sousababy profile image


      7 years ago

      Added this lens to the sidebar of my latest one. Hope it helps! Take good care, Rose

    • Juliet719 profile image


      7 years ago

      What's the deal as far as academic-style writing goes? When you write a paper for school, you incorporate other people's ideas, clearly identifing them as belonging to someone else. Maybe the commercial nature of Squidoo would void the right to use other people's ideas in this way... yet I can't imagine that posting an academic paper on one's personal website and then adding some ads, for example, would be unethical. Does anyone know?

    • sousababy profile image


      7 years ago

      Oh, and belated congrats on being select LotD and for your purple star (good to know Squidoo HQ has recognized this excellent lens too). Take good care, Rose

    • sousababy profile image


      7 years ago

      Great lens, thank you for educating folks who believe it is okay to steal someone else's ideas. It's sad to see it so prevalent . . but with lenses like yours, we can fight back and eventually (I feel) higher ups are taking notice. Thank you once again, Rose

    • flinnie lm profile image

      Gloria Freeman 

      7 years ago from Alabama USA

      So much info glad I found your lens,I am new at this and would hate to do something wrong.There is just so much to learn thanks for the info.

    • Iceprincess09 LM profile image

      Iceprincess09 LM 

      7 years ago

      What if I am the author and I wrote something else on another site that I own and I want to use it for my lens. Can't I do that?

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      this info is so valuable. I think I've broken a couple of laws and am dashing over to my lenses to fix them right away.

    • Bob Schroeder profile image

      Bob Schroeder 

      7 years ago

      Thank you for making this lens. It scares me to death that I might be violating some copyright laws when I do a lens. this helped clear up a lot of questions.

      Thank you.

    • Johanna Eisler profile image

      Johanna Eisler 

      8 years ago

      Concise and clear. Thank you so much!

    • blabbermouth lm profile image

      blabbermouth lm 

      8 years ago

      this is a great lens, make sure you have a great writer and proof reader in order to avoid plagiarism

    • Doctone profile image


      8 years ago

      I'm afraid the digital age has made plagiarism all that much easier. Did you see the story of the former German defence minister, who had to resign as he had copied parts of his PhD thesis from elsewhere - and it was down to a newspaper to point this out, his university hadn't even noticed!

    • BusinessSarah profile image


      8 years ago

      Great information, and very well explained! Thanks for putting this out there!

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 

      8 years ago from United States

      This is a great tips lens and I am returning on this Memorial Day weekend to add my blessings! Thanks for all of the help!

    • SummersSorbet profile image


      8 years ago

      Very informative! So, if I still have questions, especially as it relates to lenses on Squidoo, who do I ask?

    • hayleylou lm profile image

      hayleylou lm 

      8 years ago

      **Blessed** and featured on My Time as a Squid Angel :)

    • NanaPoppins LM profile image

      NanaPoppins LM 

      8 years ago

      Nicely Said!

    • ChemKnitsBlog2 profile image


      8 years ago

      Susan, I had to give you a blessing because this lens has helped me out a lot over at SquidU (helping new lensmasters debate what is acceptable). I appreciate you supporting me and my angelness :)

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      You do all things perfectly!

    • javr profile image


      8 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Blessed by me as well.

    • mysticmama lm profile image

      Bambi Watson 

      8 years ago

      ~ Blessed by a Squid Angel >*

    • joanhall profile image

      Joan Hall 

      8 years ago from Los Angeles

      Hi! I'm featuring this lens on my new Plagiarism Sucks lens.

    • ChemKnitsBlog2 profile image


      8 years ago

      I agree with OtherCat. It should be mandatory... with a quiz at the end. I have had my blog's content illegally produced on so many sites, and any "contact us" options are non-functional. It's pretty frustrating. (But I especially love it when I find a reproduction that contains the "this pattern is not to be reproduced or sold without permission from ChemKnits" on the fake version.)

    • Othercatt profile image


      8 years ago

      This should be mandatory for everyone to read when they sign up for Squidoo. Blessed.

    • Linda BookLady profile image

      Linda Jo Martin 

      8 years ago from Post Falls, Idaho, USA

      Very helpful! Thanks, Susan! I have bookmarked this so I can share the link when needed.

    • RhondaAlbom profile image

      Rhonda Albom 

      8 years ago from New Zealand

      Such important information on plagiarism! Blessed by a Squidoo angel and added to Angel Blessings From Pukeko October 2010

    • mythphile profile image

      Ellen Brundige 

      8 years ago from California

      Lensrolling this to my hotlinking page. Very clearly stated.

      It's amazing how much stickiness that "Ten Myths" page has; I think that was posted in the early days of the web.

    • SheGetsCreative profile image

      Angela F 

      9 years ago from Seattle, WA

      Resource-full lens! Thanks :)

    • LouiseKirkpatrick profile image


      9 years ago from Lincolnshire, United Kingdom

      I run my own business and I've had text, graphics and images that I created used by others - one idiot even copied the entire website word for word and just changed the name of the company! It's beyond frustrating when your hard work is just copied and passed off as someone elses. This is a hugely useful lens - blessed by a Squid Angel :)

    • Elle-Dee-Esse profile image

      Lynne Schroeder 

      9 years ago from Blue Mountains Australia

      Excellent resource

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      And they keep doing it! Blessed, m'dear :-)

    • PizmoBeach LM profile image

      PizmoBeach LM 

      9 years ago

      Great lens.

    • KathyMcGraw2 profile image

      Kathy McGraw 

      9 years ago from California

      One of my favorite subjects..... Blessed by and Angel :) We can never say this enough times online or off.

    • WindyWintersHubs profile image


      9 years ago from Vancouver Island, BC

      Congrats on LOTD!

    • junecampbell profile image

      June Campbell 

      9 years ago from North Vancouver, BC, Canada

      Excellent lens. Plagiarism is something that all web publishers must understand. Five stars. Congrats on being Giant Squid of the Day.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      great lens!

    • Franksterk profile image

      Frankie Kangas 

      9 years ago from California

      Excellent lens with valuable info and advice. Congrats on LOTD. Bear hugs, Frankster

    • MrWidemouth profile image


      9 years ago

      Great information. Thank-you! I'm happy to know I'm writing within the lines.

    • Ramkitten2000 profile image

      Deb Kingsbury 

      9 years ago from Flagstaff, Arizona

      I've been here more than once but had to return to say CONGRATS on LOTD! Definitely deserving.

    • SusannaDuffy profile imageAUTHOR

      Susanna Duffy 

      9 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      @anonymous: He did give me a hand with sentence construction and corrected various errors of a grammatical nature. He tells anyone who will listen that he's my Editor

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Congratulations on getting Lens of the Day Susanna - well deserved. Is Vladi jealous?

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Congratulations on your LOTD for Is It Plagiarism. Excellent!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      This should be required reading for all newbies. Congrats on LotD!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Quite valuable detailed info that more people should know about. Congratulations on this great lens and well deserved LOTD! 5 stars

    • JenniferAkers LM profile image

      JenniferAkers LM 

      9 years ago

      As a writer, this is an important topic. You've very clearly explained plagiarism and the difference between plagiarism and copyright. Two great points: not everyone online is in public domain, nor is crediting the author the same as getting permission to reprint.

      5* and Congrats on the LOTD!

    • newbizmau profile image

      Maurice Glaude 

      9 years ago from Mobile, AL

      Very passionate lens. Congrats on LotD!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      very important topic for freelance content writer like me.

      bay the way congrats on LOTD :)

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 

      9 years ago from Central Florida

      Excellent info for all students and for online content providers.

    • ZenandChic profile image


      9 years ago

      Congrats on LOTD!

    • KimGiancaterino profile image


      9 years ago

      Congratulations on LOTD!

    • writernewbie profile image


      9 years ago

      Wow, great lens. I believe that this is such an important topic for anyone actively publishing work on the internet. I have questioned my own content a few times, because even if something I write sounds similar to what another person has written, it could be viewed as plagiarism. If I feel like my content too closely resembles someone elses, I will change it. Very nice job on this, and congrats on getting LOTD!!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Thanks for the information. It is so great to have a clear definition of plagiarism. This will certainly help me out being new to Squdoo and all this internet stuff.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      great lens and hi 5 for you..

    • CountryWoman1 profile image


      9 years ago

      Terrific definition! I hope everyone reads it - whether new or established - as there still seems to be a lot of confusion as to what someone can "borrow". Thanks for the great article.

    • Faye Rutledge profile image

      Faye Rutledge 

      9 years ago from Concord VA

      Great information...I agree it should be required reading for newbies. Congrats on LotD!!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Nice! I hope more people read it and we have a new and better Internet.

      It's a good work, really! I'll bookmark this page and re-read it ASAP, because I'm a "partial time" problogger, so it's a very important subject to me.


    • Kiwisoutback profile image


      9 years ago from Massachusetts

      Great pick for LOTD. I've had quite a few tangles with people stealing my content. Luckily, I've been able to resolve it so far. I've even had another lensmaster copy my content word for word! I agree with grannysage, maybe this should be required reading for newbies. Nice work, Susan.

    • llfincannon profile image

      Laura Fincannon 

      9 years ago from New Orleans and South Florida

      Useful information! Thanks and congrats.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      A well deserved LOTD. I actually saw it change in the wee hours of the morning while I was still working on my lenses. This should be required reading for all lensmaster before they sign up.

    • mamakat lm profile image

      mamakat lm 

      9 years ago

      Very interesting. A lot of that I knew, but some I didn't.

      I'm fairly new here, found you through today's LOTD. Congrats!

      I went to your profile, after scanning through your list of lenses, I was exhausted! I visited several, and there are more I would love to read....but I've got other stuff I'm supposed to be! Enjoyed some of the wildlife lenses, I had forgotten all about rhubarb, and the menopause lens was great

    • Lynne-Modranski profile image

      Lynne Modranski 

      9 years ago from Ohio

      Great thoughts and congrats on LOTD. We might also mention that clipart is also protected by copyright laws. There are clips out there that can be used by just giving credit, but most clips must have permission or be paid a royalty to use. I'm not an artist by any means, so I'm grateful to those who create clipart.

    • Spook LM profile image

      Spook LM 

      9 years ago

      Congrats on LOTD. It's a tough game and I nearly always use my own words, however there comes a time when in whatever you are writing, you quote someone else's words (say an historical figure, since passed) provided it's perfectly obvious you are quoting them and have given credit to them as a source. Does this now mean plagiarism? As to thoughts, I find that hard to credit. So I thought about writing something about Australia and so did you (for example.) Does this mean we are plagiarising each others thoughts? Great lens.

    • mbgphoto profile image

      Mary Beth Granger 

      9 years ago from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA

      I found this lens very interesting. I try hard not to plagiarize but wow sometimes I know something and I where did I learn that. You made some excellent points. Thank you.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Excellent Lens, Thanks! (Fav'd, voted + lensrolled!)

    • Bellezza-Decor profile image


      9 years ago from Canada

      I always enjoy reading an article that teaches me something new. Excellent information for all those who publish on the internet!

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 

      9 years ago from Arkansas USA

      Very well presented. I hope everyone reads and heeds. Congratulations on Lens of the Day!

    • Heather426 profile image

      Heather Burns 

      9 years ago from Wexford, Ireland

      congrats on LOTD for this excellent and important page!!!

    • justholidays profile image


      9 years ago

      Congrats on your LOTD! Plagiarism seems rising these last weeks - or is it because I became an angel and that I systematically check all lenses I visit? Don't know but the fact is Squidoo lensmasters SHOULD read this page!

      Blessed by a SquidAngel and will be featured on my angel blog in bold, red, yellow, orange, big fonts or whatever possible so that I make sure visitors won't skip it!

    • Wednesday-Elf profile image


      9 years ago from Savannah, Georgia

      Important information for all lensmasters on Squidoo and anyone else who writes for the internet and/or any type of publication. Thank you for both the reminder, and the sources for more information when and if needed. Congratulations on a well-deserved LOTD.

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 

      9 years ago from United States

      Congratulations on Lens of the Day! I was just discussing this very issue with someone else on Squidoo a few days ago.

    • profile image

      Leanne Chesser 

      9 years ago

      Congratulations on LOTD! Education about plagiarism is so important. Blessed!

    • joanhall profile image

      Joan Hall 

      9 years ago from Los Angeles

      Thank you for writing this! And congratulations on LOTD!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Fantastic information that I honestly wish I'd had presented to me when I started here on Squidoo. I've featured this lens on mine; How To Legally Add Pictures. Congratulations on LOTD!

    • delia-delia profile image


      9 years ago

      GREAT LOTD!!! congratulations....

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Appreciate the helpful information, congrats on the LOTD:-) ~claudia

    • Shibamom LM profile image

      Shibamom LM 

      9 years ago

      Great lens on a very necessary topic. I have had articles taken off article directories without using the appropriate links back to me, it's very frustrating. Congrats on LOTD.

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 

      9 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      Congratulations on a well deserved Lens of the Day! This is very well written and easy to understand. Plagiarism is one of my pet peeves.

    • stacy mcdaniel profile image

      stacy mcdaniel 

      9 years ago

      Congratulations! Thanks for the information. Very helpful.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      really nice one............i too learned a lot out of this...........great!!!!!!!!!!

    • NAIZA LM profile image

      NAIZA LM 

      9 years ago

      Very informative lens for all ages. I really learned a lot on the subject of plagiarism. Congratulations on LoTD as well! =)

    • mij fan profile image

      mij fan 

      9 years ago

      Really something to think about for a new Lensmaster like myself, so thanks!

    • Kylyssa profile image

      Kylyssa Shay 

      9 years ago from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

      Thank you for writing this! I'm getting so tired of seeing so much plagiarism!

    • delia-delia profile image


      9 years ago

      well written and informative lens...5* lensroll to my Copyrights stealing lens.

    • Ramkitten2000 profile image

      Deb Kingsbury 

      9 years ago from Flagstaff, Arizona

      I've seen so much of this lately, it's really upset me. It seems that copying-and-pasting ... make that stealing ... has become rampant on the web. And I'm not talking about people duplicating their OWN content. That's a whole different subject, of course, and not plagiarism. But it seems like a lot of people just don't understand that plagiarism is wrong or even really know what it means. I wish everyone had to read your lens before they could create one.

    • indigoj profile image

      Indigo Janson 

      9 years ago from UK

      Excellent guide, very clear advice. Thank you for taking the time to write this, Susanna. I really do hope that everybody here takes the time to read it - and understands that ultimately it is themselves they are protecting by doing the right thing by others.

    • lasertek lm profile image

      lasertek lm 

      9 years ago

      Nice! Plagiarism is something that cannot be avoided on the Internet because most people do not know how to use the materials they have read. This is a very good lens that people must read before copying the ideas and concepts of other people. I've already shared this lens to my relatives and friends.

      Rated 5* Hope you could visit my lenses and become a fan of my fb page. Thanks

    • KathyMcGraw2 profile image

      Kathy McGraw 

      9 years ago from California

      What perfect timing...I just found someone on here that went beyond copying an idea to having a majority of their lens being copied and pasted from other sites on that subject. I was furious, as this person should know better and probably does. I was going to write a lens on this today so very happy to find your lens.

    • Lee Hansen profile image

      Lee Hansen 

      9 years ago from Vermont

      BRAVO! I spend too much time catching up with the people who use my graphc content without credit/permission or in direct violation of my liberal Terms Of Use. Excellent lens, as always.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      My daughter is a grad student new TA and has found two plagiarizers already among her students, in one semester. They do it blithely seemingly not realizing that copying big chunks of stuff found online is not ok. Or that it is very obviously not their voice. She's furious.

    • Stazjia profile image

      Carol Fisher 

      9 years ago from Warminster, Wiltshire, UK

      Excellent advice and information for anybody struggling with the concepts of plagiarism or copyright. Blessed by an Angel.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      All very wise advice. Writing orignal content is always the way to go. Congrats on this great resource. Lens rated.


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