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Plagiarism: An Intellectual Theft.

Updated: May 15, 2020

Thou shalt not steal but paraphrasing is o.k.

King James Bible, teacher’s edition.


In the modern era with the development of science and technology we encounter with large number of sources for “information” while using such information from respective sources, some moral ethics must be taken into consideration; works created by other people is rightfully their intellectual property and if we use that work we are bound to acknowledge that.

The word “plagiarism” is derived from the Latin term “plagiare”. [1]This means to kidnap or abduct. Plagiarize is copy another person’s idea, words or works and pretend that they are your own. It is infecting more than simply copying someone else’s work. However internet and subsequent proliferation of information has made the problem more serious. Plagiarism usually discovered by scholars and researchers during the continuance of their research work. Plagiarism is one of the most severe violations of academic writing. It may have serious consequences for a student even expulsion from college/ University. [2] The Internet’s popularity has continued to grow since it first emerged; shocking the world with it’s never before seen technological capacities. It allowed for the communication of ideas and provided people with a wealth of information only a click away. More widely used now than ever before, the Internet supplies users with easy access to various kinds of information. With the unlimited availability of information on the web today, plagiarism has become a growing problem. The abundance of information available makes it easier and increases the temptation to steal other’s ideas. Plagiarism, which is taking credit for someone else’s ideas, is sometimes committed intentionally and other times accidentally. Often, copyrights are violated. In order to prevent this crime form being committed it is necessary that society is educated about copyright law and understands how to properly cite source material. Today, large number of people uses the Internet as a reference source as it contains a plethora of information, and documents found on the web can be of great use when doing research. However, if ideas, concepts, or words are taken from another author’s work, they must be properly cited. If they are not properly cited this is plagiarism, which is considered to be unethical act by society; it also violates copyright law, and thus is punishable by law. Often people do not realize that even if they are only paraphrasing or summarizing someone else’s work, idea, or concept and not directly quoting it they are still plagiarizing. Borrowing another person’s idea is permissible if credit is given to whom it is due. However, stealing someone else’s work or idea and acting as if it were your own is not. Thus, it is pertinent that proper citation is always used. If one fails to use proper citation, one is guilty of plagiarism, and may face legal charges for copyright violations.


Plagiarism is not always committed intentionally, but the people who purposely attempt to deceive others by stealing someone else’s ideas should take into account the seriousness of their actions and the consequences they may face if caught. For those people who are guilty of plagiarism, but did so unintentionally and were simply unaware of what they were doing should also take into consideration their actions to try to prevent this act from occurring again in the future. With a ready availability of information on the Internet, it is extremely easy to take someone else’s idea without using proper citation and giving credit to the owner, thus it is necessary that everyone be extremely cautious when borrowing an idea and use proper citation to avoid any disputes over copyrights. With the ever increasing rise of Internet usage, the Web has become a means of communication and sharing ideas. Its popularity has continued to grow since its first emergence and today it is uncommon for a household to be without some sort of Internet service. It is used by people of all ages, children, adults, and seniors, for entertainment, and as a reference tool. The Internet supplies users with easy access to various kinds of information. With the wealth of information available on the web today, plagiarism becomes an even bigger problem. Let us have a view on available forms of plagiarism.

Forms of Plagiarism

Types of plagiarism

1. Copy and Paste Plagiarism Any time you lift a sentence or significant phrase intact from a source, you must use quotation marks and reference the source. 2. Word Switch Plagiarism If you take a sentence from a source and change around a few words, it is still plagiarism. If you want to quote a sentence, then you need to put it in quotation marks and cite the author and article. But quoting Source articles should only be done if what the quote says is particularly useful in the point you are trying to make in what you are writing. In many cases, a quotation would not really be useful. The person who plagiarizes is sometimes just too lazy to synthesize the ideas expressed in the Source article. 3. Metaphor Plagiarism[3] Metaphors are used either to make an idea clearer or give the reader an analogy that touches the senses or emotions better than a plain description of the object or process. Metaphors, then, are an important part of an author's creative style. If you cannot come up with your own metaphor to illustrate an important idea, then use the metaphor in the Source Article, but give the author credit for it. 4. Idea Plagiarism If the author of the source article expresses a creative idea or suggests a solution to a problem, the idea or solution must be clearly attributed to the author. A WORD ABOUT "COMMON KNOWLEDGE" Students seem to have a hard time distinguishing author's ideas and/or solutions from common knowledge, or public domain information. Common knowledge or public domain is any idea or solution which people in the field accept as general knowledge. For example, what a black hole is and how it is defined is general knowledge. You do not need to reference a general description of a black hole. The escape velocity of earth is also general knowledge and needs no reference. The distance to the center of the Galaxy is also general knowledge. However, a new idea about how to look for black holes or a new solution to a physics problem needs to be attributed to the authors. If you don't know what is accepted as public domain in a particular field, ASK. 5. Reasoning Style/Organization Plagiarism When you follow a Source Article sentence-by-sentence or paragraph-by-paragraph, it is plagiarism, even though none of your sentences are exactly like those in the Source article or even in the same order. What you are copying in this case is the author's reasoning style. Plagiarist can be differentiated on the basis of the degree to which the copying has been done. Following are some of the identified categories of plagiarism…

1. Patch - work Plagiarism:- Copying different people’s words and work and presenting them as your own. 2. Global Plagiarism:- Taking or copying a whole piece of a particular work of another person. 3. Incremental Plagiarism:- It involves quoting or paraphrasing one’s statement without awarding credit to the originator. It has to do with quotation or paraphrase. 4. The Ghost Writer:- Plagiarist turns in another’s work, word for word, as his or her own. This can be called verbatim copy of another person’s work. 5. The Photocopy:- The plagiarist copies significant portions of texts straight from a single source, without doing any alteration. 6. The Potluck Paper:- Where one tries to disguise plagiarism by copying from several different sources, altering a few sentences and paragraphs here and there to make them fit together while retaining most of the original phrasing. 7. The Self Plagiarism[4]:- Where the plagiarist borrows generously from his or her previous work. This is common phenomenon among the writers that they publish the same material through different mediums without referencing it correctly. Moreover self plagiarism or recycling of an old work in a new guise is also a theft since the author leads the book-buyer to think that there is a new book of his on the market. The author is misleading his/her readers. Self plagiarism is fraud if not outright theft. It is axiomatic that in present scenario plagiarism has become very quite a common phenomenon. But there are cases where even though the author has never read on article or the piece, but commits plagiarism inadvertently. One may choose to write on the same topic as the other but the odds are that he may even convey the same ideas and express them similarly in his paper also. If this does happens it is highly unlikely that one will be accused of plagiarism. But one has to be definitely careful of accidental plagiarism where one could have read a piece and forgotten that he had actually read it somewhere. This is because if one’s ideas turn out to have been influenced by a source that you read but failed to cite for any reason, you could be guilty of plagiarism.

Why do humans Plagiarize?

Present generation is the generation of science and technological know-how the place the intellectual of the person had marched a lengthy way and attained a highest, and it is a great deal disgraceful for the reverent writer of cutting-edge generation that they turn out to be sufferer of plagiarism. Does it suggest that our technology is so a whole lot unable to transmit and produce something of their own except looting the cherished intellectual property of others?

Firstly, the foremost motive behind plagiarism is to reap and propping of one’s ego. There are number of writers, scholars, who even do not conscious about what they have written in their prestigious article. It is pertinent to point out here that there are so many more researchers who are incapable of producing correct work and they declare to have written themselves many articles and columns in their journals, magazines.

Secondly, laziness and fecklessness of writer, authors is subsequent important issue of plagiarism. There are the few writers who have innate wish to innovate new ideas. Many of the writers consider in reduce replica and paste.

Thirdly, Ignorance, Most of the writers are unaware that their truely reproduction paste will amount to fee of crime. They are committing it ignorantly.

After educational area every other location of worried is journalism industry where plagiarism flourishes. Journalism essential forex is public believe if a journalist indulges in plagiarism it undermines its very basis the trust. If a journalist is accused of plagiarism they are stripped off from their job and consequences have to be faced by way of news organization.

Famous cases of plagiarism:-

One of the well-known instances of plagiarism that includes the well-acknowledged historian and biographer of us Presidents Dwight Deisenhofer and Richard Nixon, Stephen Edward Ambrose.1 in 2002 Ambrose was once found to have plagiarized various passages in his book, “The wild blue” Fred Barnes in “the weekly standard” said that Ambrose had taken passages from “wings of the morning”. The story of the closing American bomber shot down over Germany in World War II by means of Thomas Childers (a history professor at the University of Pennsylvania) Ambrose and his writer release an apology as a result.

Recently there was a dispute between B.R motion pictures and Hollywood studio 20th century Fox. B.R motion pictures had been accused of plagiarism with the aid of twentieth century fox. However , the case has been settled out of court for an undisclosed amount .it has additionally been alleged that the Indian production house’s upcoming film “Banda yen bandanas hay” used to be a replica of Oscar winning “my cousin vinyl” but the matter did now not go to the court of law. There are lots of instances of plagiarism all most in all spheres that are going on all round the world.[5]

Plagiarism is mental property theft[6]:-

Bill gates in his article intellectual property theft mention plagiarism as mental property theft. With the multitude of possibilities of the Internet and the computer, the concept of safeguarding IP reaches far previous textual content and essays. Today the pc is used to commit crimes of IP theft including those of images, music, sound, software, and many others. Theft of IP with the use of computers/the Internet can be damaged into three major categories: 1. stealing with the web; 2. stealing within the web; 3. stealing from the web.

1. Stealing with the Web

As cited above the Internet makes handy a wealth of sources to an extremely large populace of people. With this wealth of statistics comes a wealth of probability to create illegal acts of theft of IP. Today many human beings have been in a position to use the web in order to attain get admission to fabric without price to the originator. Sites such as Napster (recently shut down) and Kazaa permit humans to access, download and “share” music, literature and pictures without fee to the artists responsible. Sites such as these utilize the “community” element of the net in order to connect users with each other in order to share such pieces of IP freely. Such sites use “shareware” in order to pass by along IP unregulated. For greater data on shareware please go to the website by means of the Association.

Recently such web sites have come under fireplace from each artists and politicians for what they think about theft of IP even though many of these web sites preserve that they cannot manipulate the moves of the customers of the sites and that the software/site has criminal ramifications. Court actions and legal problems of Napster can be accessed at the “Find Law” web site.

Recently, Congress has switched their goal no longer solely at the creators of these sites however the users as well. Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee has even recommended that the computers of customers who continue to commit theft of copyright substances by way of web ought to be destroyed. (USA Today, 6/03)

In addition to theft of literature and music, the Internet has additionally been a warm spot for unlawful downloads of copyrighted software program again besides payment. Some web sites even make reachable to people free copies of copyrighted computer games, graphics software program and movies. Websites such as Pirated Warez has lists of software and films users can download with the touch of a button. Sites such as these deny the makers of such copyrighted fabric the price owed to them as cited by way of law.

2. Stealing inside the Web

Stealing within the internet consists of the book of plagiarized fabric on the internet from different web sites or different backyard sources. Just as college students can plagiarize material observed on the web, so can the authors of websites plagiarize inside the content of the site. Most frequent offenses of such nature are these sites that publish copyrighted text/literature both as their personal or barring applicable consent or notification.

Sometimes parts of textual content are published, but in many cases the literature is posted in its entirety without rights given to the author. Such is the case of the following site. A reputedly innocent website focusing on the book The Rainbow Fish with the aid of Marcus Pfister, none the much less the writer of the website has published the book in full length barring making note of the authentic Author’s copyright or even name; it can be viewed at Fish2UK.

Another commonly viewed act of stealing inside the net is the theft of visible imagery. With the invention of clipart got here the false impression that any picture published on the internet is considered public domain or honest use. Such is the case with the web page listed below which openly states that pictures used inside the website have been illegally copied. This is a frequent exercise of novice webpage designers. Unless particularly mentioned as public area or honest use all pix published on the internet are copyrighted and therefore unlawful to reproduce barring consent.

3. Stealing from the Web

This last category of IP theft is the one that is of utmost importance for educators and the one that will be centered upon all through this paper. This new science has lead to some thing referred to as “cyber-plagiarism” which is the system by which students both copy thoughts discovered on the internet besides giving desirable attribution or the method of which college students down load lookup papers from the web, In whole or in part, and post as their own. (University of Alberta, 2002)

In latest instances plagiarism has been considered in high-profile fees of plagiarism against pupils such as Pulitzer Prize winner Doris Kearns Goodwin and Stephen Ambrose. Even with this upward jostle into the scrutiny of plagiarism we cannot count on that plagiarism is on the rise; however, it may additionally lead to positive assumptions. (Sanford, 2002) The use of the net to plagiarize IP inside scholar work is more ordinary today than ever before. In the past instructors have always had to worry about students outright plagiarizing text and or paraphrasing with the intent to deceive, most regularly in essays or reports. Today students are no longer only in a position to reproduction down paragraphs or strains from the libraries several books, now students can clearly download entire term papers with the click on of a mouse.

Prevention of Plagiarism In order to prevent plagiarism from occurring people must be cautious and careful when borrowing someone else’s ideas and make sure to use proper citation. For those who are intentionally guilty of plagiarism they are advised to take into account the seriousness of their actions and think about the possible consequences. To avoid plagiarism you should start documenting the sources as early as you start doing your researching your draft mark the ideas that are your own and those which are drawn from other sources. Underline; italicize someone else’s words in your notes. As you are paraphrasing, try not to peep into the primary source, write form memory. Then you will check and correct the possible inaccuracies. Start paraphrasing with acknowledging the author: According to…..,. If you want to keep a particular phrase, do not fail to use quotation marks with it. For preventing plagiarism the steps must be taken at two levels. First at student’s level, it is the duty and moral obligation of the student writing that he does not copy from other sources. For this the first step will be to consult the instructor for guidelines and clarifications about the topic. Next comes the planning of do this have to be taken at two levels. One is the student himself who is the paper which goes a long way towards preventing plagiarism. A proper outline helps in drawing a line between one’s own ideas and others’ ideas. Also helpful is then proper taking of notes which helps in prevention of any misquotations and wrong citations. The UNBC Learning Skills Centre has laid down a ten step guideline of preventing plagiarism by a student. Its basic highlights include, along with those given above that, the student should try writing a short version of his paper in thirty minutes to have his own ideas clear in his mind. When copying from any source, the author should clearly and simultaneously make a list of the bibliography. The major responsibility is that of the institutions for it is on them to lay down the policies and rules for the students and others. Talking of the institution’s role in preventing plagiarism, it is of great importance that the institution, which can either be a college, university or even a funding agency, needs to lay down the rules to be followed by all. These should include means of preventing plagiarism. Such rules should be explained in a clear manner to all the students’ writing papers, dissertations, etc. It is the responsibility of the institution to educate the students about plagiarism. The students should be taught the correct and accepted way of citing sources and benefits thereof. Next, and lastly, all institutions should lay down penalties for this crime which shall dissuade anybody from committing such acts. Copyright Infringement[7][8] vs. Plagiarism

While many people think that copyright infringement and plagiarism is more or less the same thing that is not the case. In a sense, there is some connection between plagiarism and copyright infringement in many situations, but the use of the two terms interchangeably is not correct. Here is some information on how the two are related, as well as how they differ. Copyright infringement is the unauthorized use of the creation of another individual. Just about any type of created art form could be included in this category. Such items as articles, stories, books, songs, movie clips, and photographs are all examples of creative works that are copyrighted. Unauthorized use takes place when someone chooses to utilize these copyrighted creations without obtaining permission from the owner. In situations where authorization would involve providing compensation to the owner, the failure to do so would also fall under the heading of copyright infringement. Plagiarism shares some elements with copyright infringement. Both situations can involve the unauthorized use of intellectual property. However, it is possible to plagiarize without infringing on a copyright. For example, if a student preparing a report chooses to use a quote from a source and does not properly cite the original source, he or she is essentially claiming the quote to be his or her own words. This amounts to stealing the words of another person. While the quote may be from a work in the public domain and is not subject to any claims of compensation, plagiarism has still taken place. Federal laws in many countries protect the interests of citizens who hold copyrights. When those copyrighted works are used without permission, the owner has legal recourse to collect damages as well as receive a share of any revenue generated from the unauthorized use. In some countries, it is possible for the punishment to include a prison sentence if copyright infringement is proven in a court of law. By contrast, plagiarism is usually more a matter of ethics than of law. The failure to provide a proper citation for a direct quote will not necessarily carry any type of legal punishment. However, engaging in plagiarism often leads to censure by academic institutions and employers. For example, a writer who presents the work of another writer as his or her own and is caught in the act of plagiarism is likely to be dismissed from the workplace. Freelance writers, who plagiarize often find that word gets around and it becomes extremely difficult to secure assignments. While the chances of going to jail for plagiarism are somewhat limited, the negative impact can have repercussions that will last for years.

Conclusion & Suggestions:-

Stealing is a crime although it is easy to identify when someone is stealing money or tangible items, stealing words, illustrations, tables, figures, thoughts or ideas can be harder to recognize. This type of stealing is called “Plagiarism”, and it is happening more frequently these days. In the above study the researcher tried to trace out most of the common types of plagiarism, which are popular among students, researchers, and writers. The some of the reasons of plagiarism are laziness, fecklessness, and ignorance. But there are the cases when plagiarism is committed inadvertently .one may choose to write on the same topic as the other odds are that he may even convey the same ideas and express them similarly in his paper also if this does happened it is highly unlikely that one will be accused of plagiarism. In order to prevent plagiarism there are few suggestions:-

1. Plagiarism is very feeble in practice that is always covered under copyright act. But its consequences are bogging the research and writing work down. If we survey Indian law there is no specific law for plagiarism. Even in U.S.A it has been widely covered under the copyright act. Therefore it is suggested that either a new independent separate law must be included under the copyright act. Since theft of tangible property has been covered under section 378 of Indian Penal Code 1860,the theft of intangible property like plagiarism must also be covered under the heading of theft, a separate clause may be incorporated in the Indian Penal Code1860[9] regarding plagiarism which must be effectively implemented.

2. Read reference material very carefully; put it aside and thinks about it for a while; later write it in your own words, what you read without looking at the source again.

3. Put any word lifted verbatim in quotes and reference them.

4. If a fact is common knowledge, there is no need to document it.

5. One can also get the written permission to use any previously published illustrations, figures, tables or photographs.

[1] From the Oxford English Dictionary: The action or practice of taking someone else's work, idea, etc., and passing it off as one's own; literary theft. [2] Lynch, Jack (2002) The Perfectly Acceptable Practice of Literary Theft: Plagiarism, Copyright, and the Eighteenth Century, in Colonial Williamsburg: The Journal of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation 24, no. 4 (Winter 2002–3), pp. 51–54. Also available online since 2006 at Writing World. [3] "What is plagiarism?". Brown University Library. 2012-07-27 [4] Leung, C. H., & Cheng, S. C. L. (2017). An instructional approach to practical solutions for plagiarism. Universal Journal of Educational Research, 5(9), 1646-1652. doi:10.13189/ujer.2017.050922 [5] Hutcheon, Linda (1985). "3. The Pragmatic Range of Parody". A Theory of Parody: The Teachings of Twentieth-Century Art Forms. New York: Methuen. ISBN 0-252-06938-2. [6] Bill gates “intellectual property theft” [7] [8] Copyright Act 1957. [9]

Published by Chanakya National Law University, 23rd September, 2018

Udit Malik

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