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Copyright infringement only occurs when the elemental work is copyrighted. While copyright is automatic, it doesn’t apply to every single thing we make. There are a number of things that you cannot copyright. Things like lists, useful items, choreographic works (unless they have been recorded), fashion and ideas.
Copyright infringement is a legal structure for tracking damages against someone who violates the exclusive rights you have with your copyright. If someone utilizes your copyrighted work without authorization or under a protected exemption like Fair Use, you have a case and can sue them. If it’s online, you can file a DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) Takedown Notice and get their posting taken down.
Copyright infringement is automatic. If your copyrighted work is used without your permission in a way that defies your exclusive rights, the person or organization using it is engaging in copyright infringement.
Keys to Copyright Infringement
- You must have a copyrighted work.
- It is used without your permission or under a valid exception.
- It is used in a manner for which you have exclusive rights.
Plagiarism is taking someone else’s work and submitting it as your own work. It happens all the time. It happens in school. It happens in the office. It happens on the internet. There are instances where people lost their job because of plagiarism. Some students had their college admissions revoked due to plagiarism.
Plagiarism is a moral issue and not a legal one. It is not illegal in the US. Plagiarism can vary from a small mess to a serious offense with substantial implications.
Many companies don’t have a policy regarding plagiarism, but certain industries follow very strict ethical codes. Passing off someone else’s work may not seem like a big deal compared to trade secret theft, but most educated people regard plagiarism to be important.
Difference between Copyright Infringement and Plagiarism
- You can sue or employ the remedies under the DMCA for copyright infringement, but you can’t for plagiarism.
- Copyright infringement doesn’t recognize whether you were given recognition. Copyright infringement can still happen even if the source, author, or copyright-holder is mentioned. Plagiarism only happens if someone is trying to submit your work as their own.
- Plagiarism is an infraction of moral, ethical, or society’s customs not laws.
- Plagiarism can happen to things not subject to copyright or when copyright infringement is excused as Fair Use. Ideas and useful articles can be plagiarized which are not subject to copyright.
- Copyright infringement only happens in connection to the copyright holder, which may not be the author or actual creator. Plagiarism is an infraction against the author or creator, not taking into consideration who may have legal rights to their work.
- Plagiarism can still happen even if there is permission from the copyright-holder to utilize the work. Permission to use the work doesn’t mean you get to take recognition and submit it as your own work. Even if the copyright-holder didn’t indicate anything about giving recognition, you have to offer some type of acknowledgement to prevent a plagiarism charge.
- For online copyright infringement, you may be able to submit a DMCA Takedown Notice. In cases of plagiarism only, the counteractions available are much more limited.
Both copyright infringement and plagiarism are not good. A discovery of plagiarism may stay with someone much longer than being held liable for copyright infringement.
As a society, the value we have for makers and creators is not always compatible with actions. With the onset of social media, it’s effortless than ever to be held liable for claiming to have created something when, in fact, you didn’t.