What are copyright, plagiarism, and Fair Use?


Plagiarism is using another persons work as your own and not giving them the proper credit. In most instances, plagiarism is governed by academic institutions that set rules to follow a code of ethics prohibiting one from plagiarizing someone else's work. Those rules are then enforced by the instructors and the academic institution in which the act takes place. Some good ways to avoid plagiarism is to make sure that any material you gather from an outside source you put into your own words and also to use quotations anytime you quote a source directly. It is also very important that you always include proper citations from the sources that you gather your information.


Video on Plagiarism: Plagiarism Video for Schools

Extra Resource on Plagiarism: The Writing Center at UNC



Copyright is taking someone else's work and infringing on the exclusive rights that they have because they are the creator of the work. This includes but is not limited to making copies of someone else's work, giving out copies of their work, making the work visible to the public, or acting out someone else's work as if it is yours. Copyright laws are governed by the federal government and can also be governed by state laws. Copyright laws are enforced by the party who is being infringed upon. The owner of the stolen material will file a lawsuit against the party who has infringed upon their rights and then the case is decided in a court of law. Some ways to avoid copyright infringement is first and foremost by asking the owner of the material if you can use the material. Another way to avoid copyright is finding out whether or not it falls under a certain exception such as Fair Use which can be described below.


Video on Copyright: Copyright Basics for Teachers

Extra Resource on Copyright: Copyright Law of the United States


Fair Use

Fair Use is a law that protects against copyright infringement when material is being used for a certain set of purposes. The analysis of Fair Use is based upon four factors that are outlined in Section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Act. Fair Use is frequently applied in educational settings when teachers are wanting to use material that is not theirs for educational purposes. The law or Fair Use is very unspecific so it leaves a lot of room for flexibility and sometimes makes it hard to determine whether one is within the guidelines of Fair Use or not. There are many resources online that can be found in order to help you determine whether or not you are within the guidelines such as the one below.

Video on Fair Use: Understanding Copyright, Public Domain, and Fair Use

Extra resource on Fair Use: Fair Use Evaluator


Works Cited:

The Ohio State University - University Libraries. (n.d.). What Is Fair Use? Retrieved February 1, 2020, from https://library.osu.edu/copyright/fair-use

The Ohio State University - University Libraries. (n.d.-b). What’s the difference between plagiarism and copyright infringement? Retrieved February 1, 2020, from https://library.osu.edu/copyright/fair-use