Are Plagiarism and Copyright Infringement the Same?


Are Plagiarism and Copyright Infringement the Same?

Are Plagiarism and Copyright Infringement the Same?
Plagiarism and Copyright Infringement

Plagiarism and copyright infringement are two sides of the same coin. But, how is one related to the other?

Any intellectual community considers plagiarism and copyrighting a cardinal sin. The difference between the two is perhaps their ethical and legal variances. In 2020, almost 22,000 applications saw the light of day for copyright registration.

Therefore, it’s not a coincidence that more than 59% of high-school students confessed to plagiarism in their studies. The difference between these two stats is that one is trying to protect their intellectual property, while the latter admits copying someone else’s work.

However, plagiarism doesn’t become a copyright issue until any authority becomes involved. So, how does it matter of simple copying journey to the court? How does the laziness of a writer become a lawsuit?

It’s critical to break them down to understand the difference between the two. Therefore, let us dive in.


Plagiarism is the unethical act of duplicating someone else’s idea. This stealing of intellectual property is harmful to both the writer and the person from whom they copied the ideas. It usually happens because students or writers feel too lazy to develop original ideas.

Plagiarism usually falls into the category of written works. While plagiarism is not a crime, professionals look down on this practice with disdain because it compromises content integrity, harms the writer, and affects the learning curve.

For a student, it can be unintentional because plagiarism can happen if you fail to quote the actual intellectual property owner. In the same way, citing imprecise information can also cause it. Regardless of intention, a writer should always try to avoid it.

Copyright Infringement 

Copyright infringement is the same as plagiarism but with legal penalties. This usage of information, quote, or citations without the copyright holder’s permission can cause legal troubles. So, where plagiarism is an ethical issue, copyright infringement is legal.

In other words, copyright infringement pushes the copier to face a court of law. Mainly because it involves work protected by copyright laws; however, if the permission holder allows you to use the protected material, there won’t be any problem.

The key thing to understand here is that copyright infringement only happens when someone steals protected intellectual property. Plagiarism is copying ideas, while copyright infringement is the punishment for duplicating protected work.

Difference between the Two: Plagiarism and Copyright Infringement

Plagiarism is something that haunts both new and professional writers. At the same time, copyright infringement involves legal penalties that stretch far beyond the world of writing.

However, this factor does not mean you shouldn’t try to avoid both of them. The key for preventing both plagiarism and copyright infringement is grasping the differences between them, such as:

1. Specificity

The critical difference between plagiarism and copyright infringement is that one is unethical, while the latter is a legal penalty. You can fix plagiarism by giving credit where it’s due.

However, copyright infringement occurs when you copy someone’s work line-by-line when the law protects it. On the contrary, plagiarism is the practice of copying ideas.

2. Ideas vs. Intellectual Properties

If the law protects intellectual property, plagiarism might subject you to copyright infringement. Plagiarism is not ethical, but it’s widespread in the professional and academic worlds.

You can use someone’s ideas, and if they aren’t protected, it’s plagiarism. It harms a writer in the same way, but without legal penalties.

3. Legal Difference

As mentioned before, plagiarism is copying ideas, such as a book, an essay, or an article. In contrast, copyright infringement is a legal penalty in case of violating the terms for intellectual properties.

So, if a brand or company uses another business’s motto, logo design, or ideas, they might be subject to a lawsuit. In comparison, plagiarism simply takes the idea and presents it without originality.

4. Intellectual Credit

If you write an article and present the source for a quote, citation, state, or fact, then you can avoid plagiarism. However, you need a legal permit for intellectual credit to prevent copyright infringement.

Without this permit, you’re still subject to a copyright lawsuit. Therefore, assume all the intellectual work you can find is copyrighted. It will help you steer clear of any legal troubles.

5. Revenue

The underlying difference between plagiarized work and copyright infringement is the amount of money someone makes off it. With plagiarism, this can be zero.

However, copyright laws exist because intellectual property is subject to revenue streams. Therefore, avoiding it in its entirety should be your priority.

How to Avoid Plagiarism and Copyright Infringement

You need to be adamant about avoiding plagiarism at all costs. It can save you from copyright infringement and other legal troubles. So, how do you go about doing it?

1.    Unique Ideas

One of the best ways to ensure that you never overlap with anyone’s work is unique ideas. Whether you talk about writing articles, essays, or dissertations, you need unique concepts.

Prioritizing this approach will help you steer away from any sort of plagiarism and save you in case of any legal troubles. So, always try to come up with unique ideas.

2.    Plagiarism Checker

Whenever you finish writing your work, just check plagiarism in it. If there’s even a tiny percentage of plagiarized content, then get rid of it. As mentioned before, treat all work as copyrighted.

3. Official Permission

If you think you’re going to need specific research or literary work to back up your own work, then it’s better to ask permission.

If any work is copyrighted, make sure you ask the one with the rights. This step will allow you to work with a permit while avoiding plagiarism and copyright infringements both.

4. Credit where Credit is Due

Lastly, give credit where it’s due. Never stay back from accrediting another writer for their hard work.

It will not tarnish your reputation, but if anything, it would help both parties involved. So, if you use quotes, citations, stats, facts, make sure you cite them where needed.


These are some of the differences between copyright infringement and plagiarism. While you need legal permission to avoid the former, the latter only requires you to check for plagiarism in your written work.

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