Copyright infringement and plagiarism are terms given similar meanings by people. In as much as both terms have similarities, one cannot be used as a synonym of the other because there are big differences between both terms that make them non synonymous. So how are these terms different? The difference in these terms begins by definition.

Definition of copyright infringement

In simple terms, copyright infringement is a violation of the rights of a person protected by copyright law. Copyright law has been developed to give an individual copyright holder making him the original creator of a particular composition. In copyright law, the copyright holder holds a set of rights that only they can exploit them under law. These rights include; the right to derive other works basing on that same development, rights to copy and distribute work and rights to publicly display his work to the public.

A variety of activities can involve copyright infringing. Not only are written materials exposed to copyright infringement but also copyrighting another person’s play without his permission, making copies of the play without the original creator’s consent or even writing the script without authority. Copyright infringement is a very broad term but one that has its foundations in law that protects an individual against unlawful activities that go against his rights.

Definition of plagiarism

Plagiarism also has something to do with copyright laws and ethics that guard against infringement. The main difference between the two terms lies in the fact that the moment one person steals or copies the work of other people whether or not they are covered by copyright law, that person is said to have committed fraud which is punishable by the law. Although, a plagiarism might be found guilty of the fraud offence but not for committing copyright infringement. For copyright infringement, all cases are always understood from the act of plagiarism. Plagiarism can exist without copyright infringement particularly by stealing the works of others who do not have copyright license but fail to acknowledge them as main authors. From a legal perspective, any individual who is found engaging in copyright infringement will therefore have to pay the owner whose work has been copied and distributed without consent. Copyright laws and legal in many countries and those found to violate the law and prosecuted as the law demands. There is also another form of payment that could be demanded from the one who is found with plagiarism. Different countries have different rules but there are nations that are very stun about infringing on copyrights and can have those violating the law jailed.

Like mentioned before, plagiarism is different because of the stronger moral fiber in it which is not the case in copyright infringement. Every time you use someone’s idea and forget to acknowledge the person in your work, you are simply committing plagiarism with or without knowledge. In other instances, plagiarists decide to omit the names of the original authors and replace their names which makes them original thinkers or creators of the document. Being found guilty of plagiarism might have you in prison among other negative consequences. Just like copyright infringement, you might lose your credibility and all other development you do will be treated with a shadow of doubt as people will think your new developments could also be plagiarized. You could easily lose trust because of plagiarism. A smeared character of being lazy might block your way into success and damage a career you have worked so hard to build.

On a surface level, copyright infringement and plagiarism have a great deal in common. Almost everything that is plagiarized can also be copyrighted because at the end of the day, the former deals with academic work among other types of similar nature which also qualify for protection by copyright law. Copying an article from encyclopedia webpage without attributing to the author, using a photo from a magazine published by another person or developing a blog post on a new site with similar ideas from a different author and all instances of copyright infringement and plagiarism.

Bottom line

In as much as copyright infringement and plagiarism are used with a similar breadth with person’s whose material has been stolen, it is vital to always remember that these terms should be used independently. To bring out the larger difference, one can think of it in a manner that plagiarism always has two classes of victims while copyright infringement has one victim who is the holder of copyright. The two sets of victims in plagiarism involve the party that lied about the originality of their work and the holder of copyright. Another simple way to look at both terms is with the assumption that plagiarism is an ethical conduct as opposed to copyright infringement which is a legal conduct. Sometimes they overlap but one should never think that they are the same. Copyright discussions might come up at the mention of plagiarism and the other way round but this article comes as a reminder to the public that both terms are difference in very many ways as listed above.