Blog entry by Oluwasegun Babaleye
A lot of people think of plagiarism as copying another's work or borrowing someone else's original ideas. However, terms like "copying" and "borrowing" often disguise the seriousness of the offence:
ACCORDING TO THE MERRIAM-WEBSTER ONLINE DICTIONARY, TO "PLAGIARIZE" MEANS
To steal and pass off as one's own
To use without crediting the source
To commit literary theft
To present as new and original an idea derived from an existing source
In other words, plagiarism is an act of fraud. This involves both stealing someone else's work and then lying about it afterwards.
BUT CAN WORDS AND IDEAS REALLY BE STOLEN?
According to United States law, the answer is yes. The expression of original ideas is considered intellectual property and is protected by copyright laws, just like original inventions. Almost all forms of expression fall under copyright protection as long as they are recorded in some way.
ALL OF THE FOLLOWING ARE CONSIDERED PLAGIARISM:
Turning in someone else's work as your own
Copying words or ideas from someone else without giving credit
Failing to put a quotation in quotation marks
Giving incorrect information about the source of a quotation
Changing words but copying the sentence structure of a source without giving credit
Copying so many words or ideas from a source that it makes up the majority of your work, whether you give credit or not (see our section on "fair use" rules)
Most cases of plagiarism can be avoided, however, by citing sources. Simply acknowledging that certain material has been borrowed and providing your audience with the information necessary to find that source is usually enough to prevent plagiarism.
WHAT ABOUT IMAGES, VIDEOS, AND MUSIC?
Using an image, video or piece of music in a work you have produced without receiving proper permission or providing appropriate citation is plagiarism. The following activities are very common in today’s society. Despite their popularity, they still count as plagiarism.
Copying media (especially images) from other websites to paste them into your own papers or websites.
Making a video using footage from others’ videos or using copyrighted music as part of the soundtrack.
Performing another person’s copyrighted music (i.e., playing a cove
Composing a piece of music that borrows heavily from another composition.