Plagiarism of intellectual property is when you pass another person's ideas or work off as your own. There are many consequences of plagiarism, all of them severe.

Plagiarism of Intellectual Property in Academia

Most people encounter the concept of plagiarism in school because universities take academic dishonesty and plagiarism very seriously. With more of the world's information readily available via the internet, more ethical and moral boundaries are challenged by the dishonest use of this information.

It's important to remain vigilant in applying the acceptable rules for using source material and citing the original creator. If you're unfamiliar with the college definition of plagiarism, now would be a good time to brush up on the concept.

The college definition of plagiarism is taking someone else's ideas or work and dishonestly passing them off as your own. For example, if you use information found in a book to write a paper but you don't cite the source, you're committing plagiarism. If you steal a friend's ideas by copying portions of his paper on your own, you've committed plagiarism.

Most universities have a very clear definition of what plagiarism is and how to treat violators. They tend to stress the importance of giving credit to the source, specifying where you borrowed facts and quotations, and recognizing the importance of crediting original ideas where credit is due.

The consequences of academic plagiarism vary by institution, but they tend to include the following:

  • Failing grades.
  • Class dismissal.
  • Expulsion from college.

Fortunately, avoiding plagiarism is easy:

  • Don't cheat.
  • Complete your own work.
  • Cite sources properly.
  • Talk to professors when in doubt.

The internet has had a large effect on plagiarism in college. Paper-writing services have cropped up all over the web, making it easy for students to obtain illegal written materials and pass them off as their own. Even if you pay a paper-writing service to write an academic paper on your behalf, it is still considered plagiarism.

Plagiarism and Intellectual Property Rights

Research and development have a key role in shaping public perception now that we're part of the information generation. Now more than ever, it's important to understand knowledge-based assets such as designs, ideas, and innovations, while paying attention to ownership. Unfortunately, ownership of intellectual property has become a major issue in the modern world.

Intellectual property is defined as a creative, original idea or work that is protected by copyright or trademark. Laws classify original ideas into the following categories:

  • Trademarks.
  • Copyrights for literary works.
  • Invention patents.
  • Trade secrets.

Essentially, intellectual property refers to whatever the human mind creates, which can be an original idea, expression, technology, or design.

A lot has changed since the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) discussed intellectual property issues in 1967. Intellectual property rights deserve recognition throughout the world, particularly in the rapidly-changing sectors of science and technology, business, and software. Unfortunately, globalization factors now play a role in spreading intellectual property at a rapid pace.

Plagiarism does not always equal copyright infringement. A copyright is only considered infringed when a violation of copyright law occurs. Opinions on where this line is drawn vary, but it's important to give credit to the original source as much as possible. If you're writing a paper and using other sources, you should never give the impression that you're the originator of borrowed ideas.

Accidental plagiarism can also occur, such as when you use a childhood story in a paper, but you forgot you read that story in a book as a kid. Most universities have a database that helps identify plagiarism by comparing previous submissions and existing resources, so even accidental plagiarism comes with consequences.

Plagiarism Law

Most colleges and universities state that plagiarism is merely an academic offense, but that's not true. Plagiarism is, in fact, a legal offense that must be taken seriously.

According to copyright law, the copyright owner has the right to sue a violator in federal court. Plus, an owner doesn't have to file for a copyright. When creating a new work, copyright protections are automatically assigned to the work. Making your own additions doesn't make copying the material acceptable. In fact, U.S. law prohibits minor changes in copied text as a means of avoiding copyright infringement.

Beyond stealing intellectual property, plagiarizing another's work is fraud. Phrases like “academic misconduct” make it sound less serious, but plagiarism is always fraud.

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