Most students were born in a time where online technology made copying and distributing all kinds of information very easy and fast to do. They are often unaware of or misunderstand intellectual property issues, and are surprised when they are accused of plagiarism or are given a takedown notice for something they posted online. Some students may knowingly plagiarize or infringe on copyright due to various influences. Educational experts agree students need to understand the considerations of working with intellectual property, whether they are creative (e.g., music, poetry, images) or scholarly works (books, text, data, or research).
As creators of information and scholarly or creative works, students should also recognize most of their work has the same type of protection as those done by professionals. Students have the right to develop, sell, distribute, and copy their work, and it deserves to be treated ethically by others! It's never too early or late for students to learn about intellectual property and how to respect it.
Whether you are a professor who wants to inform your students on plagiarism, or you are a student who wants to create, you should know some basics about intellectual property. On this page, the differences between plagiarism and infringement are introduced to minimize your risk of doing either. Plagiarism and copyright infringement are not the same thing although they share similarities and have to do with using someone else's work or creations:
While plagiarism is about ethics, infringement is about legal protection for work. The chart below provides some comparisons between these concepts:
|A failure to attribute sources or ideas used as foundational inspiration or information for new works or insights
|An act of not following the terms of copyright or not adhering to the rights it gives creators.
|As a Concept:
An action that happens when using the work of others or when communicating ideas: can be done in educational (school or college), professional (publishing, work done for a job), or creative settings.
An action that takes place that involves the rights given to creators (or copyright holders) over certain types of work by copyright and intellectual property laws.
|How to Get In Trouble:
|How to Minimize Risk:
|Using Public Domain Works:
|Public domain works can still be plagiarized; attributing a work gives recognition to original creator and minimizes this risk.
|Public domain works do not have copyright or its protections, but attribution gives recognition to the original creator and respects intellectual property.
Source: Crews, K.C. (2020). Copyright law for librarians and educators: Creative strategies and practical solutions. American Libraries Association.