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Copyright infringement, plagiarism, or both? Keeping it both ethical and legal when using others’ work

By c.daouti, on 3 October 2022

Venn diagram copyright and plagiarism

Created by MlLauba. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:MLauba. Licensed and reshared under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License.

 

One question that often comes our way refers to copyright infringement and plagiarism. Are they the same (mal)practice? In what ways do they overlap or differ? Being able to recognise and avoid these practices is essential: plagiarising others’ work and/or using it illegally damages both the interests of the author and your own reputation.

Take this image for example. We didn’t create this diagram: we found it on the web and included it here. We have credited MLauba as the person who created this graphic. We have also acknowledged them as the copyright holder, and shared the image under the licence they specified. If we hadn’t acknowledged the author and passed this image as our own work, this would be plagiarism. If we had acknowledged the author but didn’t meet copyright requirements (i.e. follow the terms of the licence) this would have been copyright infringement. Plagiarising someone else’s work violates their moral right to be attributed as the author. Breaching copyright has more to do with violating their commercial and legal interests.

Here we outline the main features of each practice, and offer advice on how to avoid them. Please contact us if you would like more information.

table comparing plagiarism and copyright

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