What Is Copyright Infringement? Is It the Same Like Plagiarism?

Copyright Infringement

Both plagiarism and copyright infringement are akin to intellectual theft; however, significant differences exist. Plagiarism amounts to academic misconduct, and it is more of an ethical issue. Plagiarism is about portraying someone else’s work as your own without giving that person the proper acknowledgment. But, copyright infringement is a legal issue. It occurs when you use someone’s copyright-protected work without their permission. Plagiarism and copyright infringement are not similar. Academic institutions define and govern the ethical codes on Plagiarism. In contrast, the federal government is the governing body for penalizing copyright infringement.

This article aims to differentiate between copyright infringement and Plagiarism. It will highlight how copyright infringement differs from Plagiarism in terms of its types and use.

What is Copyright Infringement?

Copyright refers to the sole rights of the creator or authorized persons to produce or reproduce any creative work. Copyrights include rights for creative works such as music, novels, artwork, movies, software and website content. It is a violation of those exclusive rights. When an unauthorized person duplicates or steals another person’s unique and creative work, it amounts to copyright infringement. Individuals and companies obtain copyright protection for exclusive rights to their creative work. The legal protection ensures that only the original creators and authorized personnel can earn and benefit from their work.

The set of exclusive copyrights protected by law are the following:

  • Reproduction of the work or making copies.
  • Distribution of the work.
  • Creation of derivative works.
  • Publicly performing the work.
  • Public display of the work.
  • Public performance of sound recordings through digital audio transmission.

Copyright laws protect the following materials:

  • Literary, musical, and dramatic works.
  • Work of architecture.
  • Music and sound recordings.
  • Computer programs and software.
  • Artwork, paintings, and sculptural work.
  • Compilations of original work and derivative works.
  • Choreographic performances and pantomimes.

Copyright laws do not apply to the following categories:

  • Copyright does not protect individual words, ideas, short phrases, slogans, methods or systems.
  • Commonly known information such as standard calendars, height and weight charts, and telephone directories.
  • Facts, news, and research are not copyrightable.
  • Public domain works are not copyrightable.
  • Names and titles are not copyrightable.
  • Copyrights also do not apply to recipes, precisely the listing of ingredients.
  • Unregistered or unrecorded choreographic performances are not copyrightable.
  • Speeches not transcribed or recorded before or after their deliverance.

How Does A Work Become Copyrighted?

The moment you put your creative work in a tangible medium, it becomes copyrighted. Copyright registration is not necessary. But, it is wise to attach a copyright notice with your created work to notify the copyright owners. It is sensible to attach a copyright notice to prevent people from committing theft of your work.

How Can You Claim Copyright Infringement?

The copyright owner or authorized personnel have to file a legal complaint with the concerned authorities. This claim leads to a lawsuit, and the judge or jury determines the penalty. The jury determines the penalties, resulting in civil or criminal penalties for the infringer. The parties can also settle this misconduct outside the court with mutual understanding.

Consequences of Copyright Infringement

One of the leading causes is the monetary loss to the original creator, unlike Plagiarism. It is a criminal offense, and the federal government or a court of jury penalizes the infringer. The punishment could be severe; the infringer will have to pay a fine or get a jail sentence. In the case of punishment with a fine, the infringer has to pay an amount for damages and profits.

How To Avoid This?

The infringement can be intentional or unintentional. In the case of academic writing especially writing a dissertation, students prefer to get dissertation editing services. However, for general, the following suggestions will help you to avoid committing copyright infringement.

Familiarise Yourself With Copyright Laws

As mentioned above, you should know that copyright laws protect original works of creation. If you encounter any piece of art, music, novels, movies, videos, etc., you should always assume that they are copyrighted.

If It Is Not Yours, Do Not Touch It

The golden rule is to adhere to the philosophy of not using someone’s original work for personal gain. If you want to use it, you should get the permission of the original creator or authorized entities. The most effective way to avoid this is to refrain from using something created by someone else.

Review Licensing Agreements

To avoid copyright infringement, you should read and comply with licensing agreements.

Not Everything On The Internet Is Copyrightable

Literary or artistic works, music, and video recordings available on the Internet are copyrightable by default. If you copy, reproduce or display that work, it amounts to copyright infringement. So, it is best practice to avoid using them as your own.

How is Copyright Different from Plagiarism?

We discussed copyright infringement, but many people confuse it with Plagiarism. Plagiarism means presenting someone else’s ideas and expressions as your own without giving that person the due credit. Plagiarism applies to all types of creative works. Ideas and thoughts plagiarized will not amount to infringement of copyrights. Plagiarism is when you directly quote someone’s ideas or exact words without proper citation. It involves copying any work, including work that has no copyrights.

Plagiarism can be detected using plagiarism software. A plagiarism checker scans billions of web pages, books, and journals to compare the text and highlights any duplications. Once plagiarism is detected, the writers can save themself from the consequences of plagiarism.

Plagiarism involves wrongly appropriating works of both electronic and print forms. Unlike copyright infringement, Plagiarism is not illegal, but it is morally wrong. Plagiarism is an offense against the author, whereas copyright violation is a transgression of the copyright holder’s rights. Plagiarism has moral consequences amounting to academic misconduct. Copyright infringement, though, leads to monetary loss for the original creator. The consequences of which are civil and criminal penalties.

How to Avoid Plagiarism?

  • Always cite the sources if you are using someone else’s thoughts or ideas and paraphrasing them
  • If you are using the exact words of the author, use quotation marks and ellipses and properly cite the source
  • Do not fabricate the citations


Copyright infringement is a legal issue with significant consequences for the original creator and the infringer. Plagiarism is more of academic misconduct. Both fall under the category of intellectual theft. Stealing someone’s creative work is a crime and a sign of moral depravity. It discourages creative work and is detrimental to the well-being of society. After reading this article, we hope you will avoid committing intellectual theft.

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