Plagiarism, the act of using someone else’s words, ideas, or work without proper attribution, is a serious offense in the world of academia, journalism, and creative industries.

While plagiarism is often associated with ethics and professional integrity, it also has legal implications. Plagiarism law is designed to protect the intellectual property rights of creators and prevent the unauthorised use of their work.

Is Plagiarising the Same as Cheating or Fraud?

Plagiarism can amount to fraud or cheating, depending on the context in which it occurs.

In academic settings, presenting someone else’s work as your own can lead to academic sanctions, including failing grades, suspension, or expulsion.

In professional settings, such as journalism or publishing, plagiarism can damage a person’s reputation and lead to legal consequences, including lawsuits for copyright infringement.

Does Rephrasing Counts as Plagiarising?

Rephrasing itself doesn’t count as plagiarism, but it’s important to understand the difference to avoid any misunderstandings.

Here’s the breakdown:

  • Plagiarism: This is when you use someone else’s words or ideas and present them as your own, without giving credit to the original source.
  • Rephrasing: This is simply putting someone else’s idea (including an amount) in your own words.

Rephrasing is acceptable as long as:

  • You understand the concept and are rephrasing it in your own understanding.
  • You cite the source if the information is not common knowledge.

Here’s when rephrasing can be problematic:

  • Not Attributing the Source: If the specific amount or idea came from a source (like a research paper), you still need to cite it even if you rephrase it.
  • Copying Structure: Even if you change the wording slightly, if you copy the overall structure of how the information was presented, it could be seen as plagiarism.

Plagiarism and Copyright Infringement

Plagiarism and copyright infringement are closely related but distinct legal concepts.

Plagiarism involves the unauthorised use of someone else’s work without proper attribution, while copyright infringement involves the unauthorised use of someone else’s copyrighted work without permission.

While not all instances of plagiarism constitute copyright infringement, many do, and both can result in legal consequences.

Law to Protect from Plagiarism

Several laws exist to protect individuals and organisations from plagiarism and copyright infringement. These laws vary by country but generally provide creators with the exclusive right to their work and establish legal remedies for unauthorised use.

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In the United States, for example, the Copyright Act of 1976 protects original works of authorship, including literary, artistic, and intellectual works.

Key Takeaways:

  • Plagiarism can amount to fraud or cheating.
  • The problem of plagiarism is not so much legal in India as it is moral.
  • In India, there are no legal safeguards against plagiarism. The Copyright Act does cover it most of the time, though.

Plagiarism Law in India

law to protect from plagiarism

Copyright Act, 1957

Plagiarism is regulated by Sections 57, 63, and 63(a) of the Copyright Act, 1957.

Under Section 57 of the Act, authors are granted the following rights:

  • The special right to claim authorship of their work.
  • The right to restrain or claim damages for any modification, distortion, mutilation, or other acts related to the said work, which is done before the expiration of the term of copyright, if such acts would be damaging to their honor or reputation.

Section 63 of the Act specifies the punishment for the offense of breaching rights conferred under this Act. Offenders may face imprisonment ranging from six months to three years and a fine ranging from fifty thousand rupees to two lakh rupees, or both.

In cases where the violation was not for gain in the way of business or trade, the court may, for special reasons stated in the judgment, impose a sentence of imprisonment for less than six months or a fine of less than fifty thousand rupees.

Section 63(a) of the Act addresses the punishment for a repeated offense. Offenders who commit the offense for the second time may face imprisonment ranging from one year to three years and a fine ranging from one lakh to two lakhs.

Similarly, if the violation for the second time was not for gain in the way of business or trade, the court may, for special reasons stated in the judgment, impose a sentence of imprisonment for less than one year or a fine of less than one lakh rupees.

Information Technology Act of 2000

The “Information Technology Act of 2000” also deals with cybercrimes and digital plagiarism. With the internet making information available to everyone, this Act is very important for protecting digital material and stopping people from plagiarising online.

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Why is it Against the Law to Plagiarise?

Plagiarism is against the law because it infringes on the intellectual property rights of creators and undermines the integrity of academic and professional institutions.

By using someone else’s work without proper attribution, plagiarists not only deprive the original authors of recognition and compensation but also deceive their audience by presenting someone else’s work as their own. This form of plagiarism can lead to legal action by the copyright owner and adverse effects for educational institutions.

It is an infringement of copyright and raises serious intellectual property issues. In the digital age, streaming of copyright material poses a significant threat to content authenticity and the rights of creative expressions.

What’s Next?

Plagiarism is not only unethical conduct but also a serious legal issue. Academic institutions and copyright holders alike have a vested interest in protecting the standards of originality and ensuring proper credit for creators.

Various forms of plagiarism, from duplicate content to unauthorised use of digital content, can lead to severe consequences, including legal action and damage to one’s reputation.

To uphold integrity and avoid unintentional plagiarism, it is essential to employ Bytescare plagiarism detection tool. These tools help ensure that content is original and properly attributed, protecting both the content creator and the integrity of academic and professional work.

Book a demo today and safeguard your work against plagiarism.

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How many plagiarism is allowed?

There is no universally accepted limit on the number of instances of plagiarism allowed. Any form of plagiarism, regardless of the number of occurrences, is considered unethical and can have serious consequences.

How much percentage of plagiarism is acceptable in India?

In India, as in many other countries, there is no specific percentage of plagiarism considered acceptable. However, most academic institutions and publishing houses have their own guidelines regarding acceptable levels of plagiarism, typically aiming for 0% plagiarism.

Is plagiarism illegal?

Plagiarism itself isn’t a criminal offense, but it can be connected to copyright infringement, which is a legal issue. Copying substantial parts of copyrighted material (text, code, images) without permission can lead to lawsuits.

How can I avoid plagiarism?

Always cite your sources properly using a recognised style guide (MLA, APA). Use quotation marks for direct quotes and paraphrase in your own words while giving credit to the original source.

Are there tools to detect plagiarism?

Yes, plagiarism detection tools can scan your work for matches in online databases. These tools are helpful, but not foolproof, and proper citation remains essential.

What happens if I’m caught plagiarising?

Consequences vary depending on the situation. In academic settings, it can lead to failing grades, expulsion, or even damage your reputation. In professional settings, it could result in disciplinary action or even termination.

Does plagiarism apply to digital content too?

Absolutely! Copyright protection extends to digital content like articles, videos, and software. Copying or using such content without permission can still be plagiarism.

Can I use content I find online if I don’t know the creator?

It’s best to assume all online content is copyrighted until you can verify otherwise. If you can’t find the creator, it’s safer to err on the side of caution and avoid using the content.