Copyright, Plagiarism & Fair Use

What is Copyright?


A person who owns a copyright of his/her material has certain exclusive rights over that material. Copyright’s intention is to protect creators from having their work and ideas stolen. Copyright holders have control over their work in the following six ways:

1. Reproduction of the work                                                                                             

2. Adaptations of the work 

3. Distribution of the work

4. Performance of the work

5. Display of the work

​6. Performance of sound recordings by digital transmission




What is Plagiarism?


The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines the verb plagiarize​ in the following ways:

  • to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one's own
  • ​use (another's production) without crediting the source
  • to commit literary theft
  • present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source


Significantly reword anything from a source you do not quote.​​

The best thing to do is to close the book, put away the source, and rewrite in your own words. Do not just use synonyms. Even imitating sentence structure can be in violation of plagiarism. ​​



              What is Fair Use? 


So when do we have a right to use someone else's work in the classroom or for an assignment? That is covered under Section 107 of the Copyright Revision Act, which says that "certain uses of copyrighted works are deemed fair and acceptable" when used for educational purposes, including "criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, and research" (Minow & Lipinski, 2003, p. 27).​​



What's Fair Use? (Defense to Copyright Infringement)


Copyright vs. Plagiarism


​More information about plagiarism: