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Is Plagiarism Illegal? What Is It in General?

Posted on 21 Aug 2019

5 min read
Is Plagiarism Illegal? What Is It in General?

is plagiarism illegal

It is clear that the word ‘plagiarism’ is familiar to every student. Moreover, a lot of students even hate it as this notorious plagiarism makes students’ life more difficult. It is repeated by professors and there are even special lectures called something like ‘how bad plagiarism is’. So, definitely, it is the right time to get to know what plagiarism means and why it is so infamous.

It seems that professors will never become tired of repeating that all the academic papers should be unique and plagiarism free. But how is it possible to write or to find something new when it seems that everything was already written and invented in the modern world? What are the ways to avoid the problem of plagiarism? Let’s start with the definition of the plagiarism concept.

So, according to one well-known online defining dictionary, plagiarism is something (usually words, ideas, photos, pictures, videos, etc) that is stolen from another person and claimed as own ones. One is plagiarizing when using someone’s thoughts and ideas without pointing the source or presenting them as his own. In other words, plagiarism is like a literal or mental theft. It is definitely a fraud and any fraud is illegal.

When is plagiarism illegal?

As it is clear from the written above, students have no right to use texts, ideas or conclusions of another author without mentioning the source or citing it. Put it crudely, you can’t just copy the text or a part of the text you like and to paste it into your research paper, presenting them as your own. Moreover, this is also true for other kinds of intellectual properties – songs, music or graphics. Nothing that was invented, written, created or composed by another person can be taken and presented as your own. It will be considered as plagiarism and an act of intellectual offense. As you see, it is a serious issue and nowadays intellectual property is jealously protected by law. By the way, the USA was one of the first countries that decided to guard the intellectual property of its authors and the Copyright Act was passed in 1790.

Academic papers – is plagiarism illegal also?

Yes. In terms of academic papers plagiarism is also illegal. Colleges and universities pay close attention to this matter and all the students, who write their papers, not from scratch, will have big and unpleasant problems. Don’t even think of stealing some parts of your paper. It will be denied, your reputation will be ruined and it will be the lesser evil if you are just told to write a new paper or quality essay. Usually, students are seriously punished and when it comes to Ph.D. holders, they are going to lose the degrees they have.  And now the question that has to be answered is how to get rid of plagiarism in your paper and avoid bad luck? Here are some tips that will help those, who try to write their perfect paper:

  • You should clearly understand what you write about. In order to rejig and paraphrase the content using your own words, it is necessary to have a good idea of the topic. Avoid paraphrasing the content you don’t understand – you risk to write total nonsense.
  • Use quotes and do it correctly. Don’t forget that all the quotes should be marked as quotes. In your paper, they should be written in the same way, as they were presented in the source.
  • Use sites and cites correctly. Remember what should and what shouldn’t be cited. Any exact idea or pair of words taken from another source or paper should be cited. Even your own words from the previously written paper should be cited. The facts that are generally known or evidence and conclusions after your own tests shouldn’t be cited.
  • Use special plagiarism checking websites. Luckily, there are plenty of them nowadays, so everyone can choose the one to his liking. But be careful anyway – even it is possible ‘to deceive’ the software with reversing the positions of the words, not all professors can be ‘deceived’ in the same way.
  • Always remember what can be paraphrased and what can’t be. In order to minimize plagiarism risks, the literary part of another paper can be paraphrased and written with strong resemblance, but no result of the research or test should be presented as your own one.

What are plagiarism regulatory laws?

The history of copyright laws stretches back to the 18th century and according to it, the first country that decided to defend rights of authors and researchers was Great Britain, wherein 1710 Statute of Anne was enacted. After that, the US decided to follow the path taken by England and adopted the Copyright Law in 1790. Later, with the course of time, the Copyright Law was updated but the last time it was done in 1976.

Is plagiarism a criminal offense? How the offenders will be punished

Yes, plagiarism is a crime and criminal offense, and as it is guarded by law, the law stipulates punishment for the offenders. The punishment means managerial responsibility or criminal sanctions. The measure of punishment is established by the court and it can be something like a public apology and compensation for moral harm or even real jail term.

Is plagiarism illegal? – Yes, now we know for sure!

So, it is clear that no one would like to find himself in jail one day or to lose all the savings. Of course, you won’t be put in jail for 10 years after copying one paragraph. However, you can be punished by your professor and gain many problems that will make your life much difficult. Of course, it is possible to turn a blind eye to those problems. But what about your conscience? Will it remain good? Even if the paper will take you some time and definitely lots of efforts and energy, it will surely bring you moral satisfaction and a feeling of pride.


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