What Is the Difference Between Plagiarism and Copyright?

What Is the Difference Between Plagiarism and Copyright?

Published by on 2021-07-09 08:30:42

Every student has to know the difference between plagiarism and copyright. These two concepts are highly frowned upon when it comes to any academic writing assignment. Unfortunately, many students tend to have some elements of both of these violations in their works. Sometimes, such a thing happens due to a lack of understanding of common knowledge about these issues. Sometimes, though, those things are included on purpose, as an act of rebellion, discontent with the rules, or simple laziness. 

Yet, the use of one of these concepts comes with much more serious consequences than the other. Let’s see both plagiarism and copyright definitions to learn more about these concepts and their stand in academia. 


Copyright can be a rather broad concept that can concern many areas of work, from intellectual to art. Only things that have been confirmed in their authority can be copyrighted. Hence, in order to copyright something, that work must be subject to copyright. It has to be officially registered and owned by a legal or private face. For instance, you can’t copyright a photo from the Internet without any evidence of one’s authority. However, once that picture has a sign or a watermark, using it without permission can be a copyright violation. 

The misuse of copyright goes against the law. Here is how you can use it within the legal right: 

  • a person cannot use any work without the owner’s permission;
  • a person can’t distribute or share the work without permission;
  • a person can’t make copies of the work;
  • a person can’t publicly display the work without special permission.

Hence, this concept is properly guided by law, and the violation of those rights can lead to the law violation. 

Difference Between Plagiarism and Copyright


Plagiarism is basically the fact of stealing something and pretending to be the sole author of the stolen piece. For example, a writer can copy ideas or entire paragraphs of writing and insert those in their own work, pretending to be the original author behind those thoughts. Hence, a writer does not acknowledge or admit that a piece of their work belongs to another author. Such behavior aims to take credit for someone else’s effort to create unique and interesting ideas. 

This phenomenon is an issue of ethics rather than law. However, in academia, such behavior is a subject of serious punishments. Plagiarism does little to nothing when it comes to quality education. It prevents students from working on their own ideas. It hampers students’ ability to work on their own flow of thought, develop personal ideas and new concepts. Instead, the use of someone else’s work gives these students an easy solution that doesn’t encourage much of the thought process or research. 

The Differences and Similarities

Both plagiarism and copywriting lie in the realm of ethics and law. Both those concepts are highly undesirable in the world of academics. No students can submit a paper that is full of either of those violations. Such works would be unethical and immoral for the very least. However, as you can see, one concept, plagiarism, is not just disapproved but strongly forbidden in any writing assignment. The presence of plagiarism in one’s work can lead to rather grave consequences, even including expulsion from a school. 

Also, if copyright can be an accidental act, plagiarism is always intentional, which makes this type of behavior much worse in the eyes of academic society. Another difference between these two concepts is that plagiarism steals ideas, which are not available for copyright. The latter can’t have a hold on ideas but on the execution of those ideas. Hence, the latter can be a matter of using actual pieces of work, such as a written piece, artwork, video, etc. The former, however, concerns only the ideas, whether those are expressed in a written form, visual interpretation, or else. 

It’s important to learn the differences between those two concepts as well as the sole definitions of both of them. Knowing these concepts will help students create unique, ethical, and original works that will express their own ideas, vision, and knowledge on the topic.