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Is Plagiarism Illegal and how Does it Affect Students?

21 Nov 2018

The popular dictionary defines plagiarism as ‘to steal and pass off something (the ideas or words) of another person) as one's own: use (another's production) without crediting the source’. It’s a massive issue for students, but can be tricky to understand what it is and the dangers. ‘Is plagiarism illegal?’ is an extremely common question, and technically, yes, it is illegal, if a person uses someone else’s intellectual property a person can be sued for this action. While it isn't a criminal or civil offense in American, it still falls under the bracket of illegal activity. It’s extremely important for students not to plagiarize because they run the risk of suspension or expulsion, and tainting their university record from an ethics point of view.

Is Plagiarism Illegal

What are the Consequences of Plagiarism?

Consequences of plagiarism in college can range in seriousness depending on the context. While it rarely becomes a criminal offense in a classroom, it can happen when copyright infringement comes into play. If a certain piece of paper, an essay or a research paper, is protected by law, and it is used by another person without permission and distributed this is classed as copyright infringement and can be punishable by law. Is plagiarism a crime then? Yes, technically it is and if certain situations of imitation happen people can face large fines or jail time in more serious cases. Having a wealth of academic online services available to these days means copying assignment is easier, so it’s important to know how to avoid this at all costs.

What Should you do to Avoid Plagiarism?

Plagiarism laws vary for different universities. People should always cite a legit reference, no matter how small. It’s easy to think it won’t be recognized, but universities use a number of checkers. Every single line is to be scanned and if anything is not referenced, that is why do not forget to use a reliable plagiarism checker for students, otherwise, be sure it will be found. Copyright infringement is avoidable under two brackets – fair use and contacting the author. Generally, for college paper fair use and gaining permission are two formats deemed appropriate when it comes to referencing.

What is Fair Use?

Using certain parts of copyrighted assignment for commentary and education purposes. Generally, fair use falls into three categories – commentary, and parody. Fair use is vague and if often based upon someone's own personal judgment. The more copyrighted material a person uses, the greater the risk of copyright infringement. But, in general, if a student uses a piece of assignment from an academic or professional that is for the purpose of enhancing the quality of their college work or critiquing, and if the piece is properly referenced, then they should avoid any copyright infringement issues.

Read also: Top 10 Websites to Check for Plagiarism

Getting an Author’s Permission

If a student plans to use a copyrighted piece of material for a large majority of their assignment, for example, a Ph.D. student using an assignment for the basis of their research project. Permission of the author is a way to avoid a potential legal offense. A student should define the purpose of their intent for the paper and contact the author clearly stating the use. This process can be lengthy and should be considered months in advance of starting a paper to make sure that permission is granted before getting too involved in a paper only to find they don't have permission. Writers can take time responding to requests, and people should be prepared for this and persistent.

What Happens if Your Caught Plagiarizing in College?

All colleges vary in punishment for plagiarism and in their opinion on is plagiarism illegal or not. A serious case may result in a hearing, and a student will need to present a case to a board. This generally happens if a lot of assignment has been plagiarised, like a whole extract, or direct quotes and opinion pieces that are identical to that of the original author. This can result in a student being expelled.

Read also: Get essay help online at EduZaurus!

A less serious case might involve a small reference not being mentioned. Lecturers may note this on the essay and marks would be deducted. If this a once off lecturers tend to be understanding, but a regular occurrence could lead to a hearing, too. An expert way to avoid this is to check paper using an online system before submitting professionally or simply to order plagiarism free essays online. There are lots of useful checkers available online and a simple Google search will help avoid losing marks for simple mistakes. The bottom line of avoiding plagiarism is citing whatever is being referenced, it’s simple. Students should always check for copyright laws and if in doubt lecturers for advice before submitting. Their job is to help success and to ensure all provisions have been taken to avoid plagiarism, so students can excel in their chosen field.

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