By Chase Lawyers

How To Know If You Are Plagiarizing or Violating Copyright

According to a 2020 report by the USSC, 75.7% of copyright and trademark offenders were sentenced to prison. Meanwhile, although cases of plagiarism are not likely to result in imprisonment, these lead to tarnished reputation and even expulsion from school. But even with these grave consequences, many still commit acts of plagiarism and copyright infringement. Most of these people are clueless that they are committing such violations.

Because it’s difficult to distinguish these acts, you yourself may be unknowingly committing them too. So just how would you know if you’re plagiarizing or violating copyright laws? Let’s go over what these acts are and how to know if you’re infringing on other people’s rights.

Plagiarism Vs. Copyright Infringement

Both plagiarism and copyright infringement involve the unauthorized use of another person’s original work. But there are distinct differences. The most obvious one is that committing copyright infringement has legal repercussions, while plagiarism is considered a minor misdemeanor.


Plagiarism is the act of claiming another person’s work or ideas as your own. This happens when you use an idea or part of any work, and you don’t give credit or citation to the rightful owner. Although not illegal, plagiarism can tarnish your image. In the academe, it can lead to failing marks, expulsion from the institution, or revocation of your degree. When done at work, it may result in termination and inability to progress in your career.

Copyright Infringement?

Like plagiarism, copyright infringement involves using the original work or idea of another person. What distinguishes it from plagiarism is that it violates the rights of the owner or creator of the original work. Literary works, songs, movies, graphic arts, and other such materials are often under copyright. Except for fair use and other exceptions, no person is allowed to use them without getting authorization from the original creator.

Copyright infringement is illegal and will incur legal consequences. You may be asked to pay steep fines, served injunctions, or even faced with imprisonment.

How to Know If You Are Plagiarizing or Violating Copyright?

Here are some scenarios to help you distinguish whether you‘re plagiarizing or violating copyright.


If you submit a written work with a few copied sentences