Infringement and Plagiarism

In academic work, it’s important to keep in mind the difference between copyright infringement and plagiarism.

Plagiarism is an ethical offense, which includes use of someone else's work without providing proper attribution and passing it off as your own. Plagiarism does not necessarily include copyright infringement, although it can be used as the basis to charge someone with copyright infringement.  Even though copying one sentence, for example, from a short story or an online article is legal under copyright law, it may still qualify as plagiarism unless the source has been adequately cited.

Copyright infringement is a legal offense, which involves the unauthorized use or distribution of someone else's creative work, which can include writings, songs, video clips, movies, visual art, or other creative works, and is punishable under federal law. Taking a copyrighted work and making changes to it creates a “derivative work,” which would not be considered a unique work and also would not provide you with full copyright ownership. Properly citing a source avoids plagiarism, but not copyright infringement.

The text of this page was adapted from the University of Saskatchewan, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 Canada License.