Many people think of plagiarism as copying another’s work or borrowing someone else’s original ideas. But terms like “copying” and “borrowing” can disguise the seriousness of the offense:
According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, to “plagiarize” means:
In other words, plagiarism is an act of fraud. It involves both stealing someone else’s work and lying about it afterward.
But can words and ideas really be stolen?
According to U.S. law, the answer is yes. The expression of original ideas is considered intellectual property and is protected by copyright laws, just like original inventions. Almost all forms of expression fall under copyright protection as long as they are recorded in some way (such as a book or a computer file).
All of the following are considered plagiarism:
Most cases of plagiarism can be avoided, however, by citing sources. Simply acknowledging that certain material has been borrowed and providing your audience with the information necessary to find that source is usually enough to prevent plagiarism. See our section on citation for more information on how to cite sources properly.
What about images, videos, and music?
Using an image, video or piece of music in a work you have produced without receiving proper permission or providing appropriate citation is plagiarism. The following activities are very common in today’s society. Despite their popularity, they still count as plagiarism.
Certainly, these media pose situations in which it can be challenging to determine whether or not the copyrights of a work are being violated. For example:
The legality of these situations, and others, would be dependent upon the intent and context within which they are produced.
The two safest approaches to take in regards to these situations is:
These laws are also in place for countries like Suriname and some others.
So be mindfull of other peoples work and be creative … don’t copy!