Key Takeaways:

  • Plagiarism is a form of intellectual dishonesty in which someone takes someone else’s work or ideas without giving proper credit.
  • Although it isn’t legally a crime in the conventional sense, it can still have detrimental effects in the legal, professional, and academic spheres.
  • Plagiarism is strictly prohibited in many educational settings, including colleges and universities, and students who are found plagiarising may be subject to disciplinary punishment.
  • In professional contexts, it may also have dire repercussions, including harm to one’s reputation, job termination, or legal action.
  • Plagiarism is not a crime, but copyright infringement is, and it can get you in trouble with the law and face consequences.

The question, “Is plagiarism a crime?” brings into focus the complex interplay between intellectual property rights and the expression of ideas.

When a plagiarist copies from electronic sources or the work of others without proper attribution, it constitutes a copyright violation.

From the moment of creation, intellectual creations are protected by copyright law, giving the copyright owner exclusive rights to their work.

Whether it’s using someone else’s entire assignment or borrowing from a piece of writing, plagiarism undermines these rights.

Comprehending plagiarism in editing terms is crucial to respecting the original author through quotes and proper citation. 

Is Plagiarism a Crime?

Plagiarism, while not a crime in the traditional sense, is considered a serious ethical violation in academic and professional settings.

It involves using someone else’s work without giving them proper credit, essentially presenting it as your own. This act breaches trust and can lead to severe consequences.

In academic institutions, plagiarism can result in penalties such as failing grades, suspension, or even expulsion.

In professional settings, it can lead to job loss, legal repercussions, and damage to one’s reputation. Some countries have copyright laws that can be used to take legal action against plagiarism in certain cases.

However, it’s important to note that not all instances of plagiarism are intentional.

Sometimes, individuals may unknowingly commit plagiarism due to a lack of understanding about proper citation practices. Therefore, education about plagiarism and proper citation practices is crucial.

Why is Plagiarism Considered a Criminal Offense in India?

is plagiarism a criminal offence

Plagiarism in India is not directly addressed by specific laws. However, the Copyright Act of India serves to protect original works from unauthorised use or reproduction.

Violation of the Copyright Act can result in legal consequences if the original author decides to take legal action.

In such cases, the author may seek protection from further infringement and illegal distribution of their work, and may also demand compensation for any damages incurred.

In educational institutions, plagiarism can lead to disciplinary actions such as failing grades or even suspension, depending on the institution’s policies. To prevent plagiarism in India, content creators can use anti-plagiarism tools.

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Is Plagiarism a Felony?

Plagiarism itself usually isn’t a felony. It’s more of an academic offense with serious consequences like failing a class or expulsion.

However, plagiarism can be a felony in some situations. This applies if the plagiarism involves a significant amount of copyrighted material and financial gain.

For instance, if you plagiarise someone’s work and earn more than $2,500 from it, it could be considered copyright infringement, which can be a felony with fines of up to $250,000 and a maximum of ten years in jail.

Plagiarism Cases

plagiarism cases

Below are just a few examples of plagiarism cases that have received significant attention and consequences.

Plagiarism is taken very seriously in academia, journalism, and other fields, and individuals who are caught plagiarising often face professional and personal repercussions.

IIM Indore

On March 3, 2012, N. Ravichandran, the director of IIM Indore, was asked by the Centre to respond to an accusation of plagiarism.

The allegation also involved another senior faculty member of the institute, Omkar D. Palsule-Desai.

The accusation pertained to a paper they had submitted titled “Euthanasia: Should it be Lawful or Otherwise?” A researcher from Ahmedabad, K.R. Narendrababu, complained that the paper heavily borrowed from a Supreme Court judgment without proper attribution.

A month later, on April 12, veteran industrialist Mr. LN Jhunjhunwala, who also chaired the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Indore’s board of governors, resigned, citing significant differences with Dr. N Ravichandran. Another board member, Dr. MN Buch, a retired IAS officer from Bhopal, also resigned.


Plagiarised Articles Found on Indian Foundation Website

A report published by Logical India in May 2018 revealed that five articles on the Indian Foundation website were found to be plagiarised.

The report identified Siddharth Singh as the writer responsible for the plagiarism.

The articles in question include: “US-China trade war and its impact on India,” “Security outlook of Indian Ocean and India’s Geo strategic interest in the IOR,” “India & BRICS: Working together to usher in the second ‘Golden Decade’ of BRICS cooperation,” “Xi Jinping: President for Life,” and “Quadrilateral Partnership for Free and Open Indo-Pacific.”

These articles contain numerous copied lines without proper citation.


How Do I Avoid Plagiarism?

Avoiding plagiarism involves three essential phases:

Phase 1: Research and Understanding

  • Understand the Topic: Before you start writing, make sure you thoroughly understand the topic. This will help you explain concepts in your own words.
  • Use Multiple Sources: Don’t rely on a single source for your information. Using multiple sources can help you gain a broader understanding of the topic.
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Phase 2: Writing

  • Paraphrase: When you find information that you want to include in your work, don’t copy it word for word. Instead, try to understand the idea and write it in your own words.
  • Quote: If a phrase is particularly well-written and you want to use it verbatim, make sure to put it in quotes and attribute it to the original author.
  • Use Your Own Voice: Try to write as much as possible in your own voice. This not only helps avoid plagiarism but also makes your work more original and interesting.

Phase 3: Review and Citation

  • Review Your Work: After you’ve finished writing, go through your work to make sure you haven’t inadvertently used someone else’s words or ideas without proper attribution.
  • Cite Your Sources: Always give credit where credit is due. If you’ve used someone else’s work as a reference, make sure to cite it properly according to the citation style you are using (APA, MLA, Chicago, etc.).
  • Use a Plagiarism Checker: Use a reliable plagiarism checker tool to scan your work for any unintentional plagiarism. This can help you identify any sections that need to be reworked or cited properly.

Remember, the key to avoiding plagiarism is understanding and acknowledging the source of information.

What’s Next?

Plagiarism, a form of intellectual theft, can lead to serious legal issues, including criminal charges and copyright claims. Whether it’s accidental plagiarism in term papers or deliberate copying in official documents, all kinds of plagiarism are illegal.

The extent of plagiarism can vary, but any type, from paraphrasing without citing the original source to claiming another’s work as your own, is unacceptable. 

Online plagiarism checkers like Bytescare offer a reliable solution to ensure plagiarism-free content.

By using this plagiarism detection software, writers can confidently avoid any type of plagiarism and uphold academic and professional integrity. Book a demo today to assure plagiarism-free content. 


What are the consequences for plagiarism?

The consequences of plagiarism can vary widely depending on the context in which it occurs:

Academic Penalties: Students may receive failing grades, be expelled, or have their degrees revoked.
Professional Repercussions: Professionals might face job termination, loss of reputation, and legal actions if the plagiarism involves copyrighted material.
Legal Consequences: In cases where plagiarism overlaps with copyright infringement, the plagiarist may face lawsuits, fines, or, in rare cases, criminal charges.

What are some drawbacks of plagiarism cheating?

Plagiarism cheating can result in various negative outcomes, including academic penalties, damage to one’s reputation, loss of trust, and legal consequences such as lawsuits and fines.

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It undermines the principles of academic and intellectual integrity and can have long-term consequences for a person’s career.

What is the difference between copyright and plagiarism?

Copyright is a legal mechanism that gives the creator of original work exclusive rights to its use and distribution, usually for a limited time. Copyright infringement occurs when someone uses this protected work without permission.

Plagiarism, on the other hand, is the act of using someone else’s work or ideas and passing them off as one’s own, without proper attribution, regardless of the work’s copyright status. It is primarily an ethical and institutional policy issue rather than a legal one, except when it involves copyrighted content.

How much plagiarism is illegal?

The illegality of plagiarism hinges on whether the plagiarised content is copyrighted:

Copyright Law: If the plagiarised material is copyrighted, any unlicensed and substantial use of this material can be illegal, depending on the extent and significance of the section used without permission.

Non-Copyrighted Material: Plagiarism of non-copyrighted material, while unethical and potentially subject to academic or professional penalties, is not illegal. The focus here is more on the breach of ethical standards and institutional rules than on legal consequences.

Do all facts I use require source citations?

No, anything that is regarded as common knowledge or that people in general is aware of does not require you to cite sources.

Common knowledge facts are not covered by copyright rules because they are easily obtainable from a variety of sources. Without specific author attribution, you may use these facts in your paper at will.

To dispel any questions regarding the origin of a fact, it is advisable to cite your source if you are unsure if it is common knowledge.

Does the amount of copying matter?

Not in deciding if plagiarism is illegal or not. Even an insignificant amount of imitation still counts as a breach of copyright when it is noticed in a work. However, the severity of the punishment is likely to depend on how much was copied.

More penalties will most likely be imposed on a work that contains nearly all plagiarised content than on one that contains only a small percentage of copied content.