You may have asked yourself ”What is plagiarism and how to avoid it?” In reality, it is rather hard to define plagiarism, as it may occur in all the spheres of human activity. Usually, plagiarism is defined as the wrongful appropriation of someone else’s ideas, words, thoughts and representing them as your own. Plagiarism is mostly viewed as academic dishonesty, rather than a crime. However, there are intellectual property laws that deal with the cases of plagiarism as well.
It should be noted that plagiarism is mentioned neither in criminal, nor in civil statutes. It IS a form of intellectual theft, but there is no criminal sanction for plagiarism. However, among students, academic workers and journalists there are quite serious penalties for plagiarism. A person who has popularized may be discredited, fired and even expelled (in the case of students.) Copyright laws protect people’s intellectual property. Until certain laws were established in 1989, a work was only protected by copyright if it included the copyright symbol (©.) However, after 1989 works are copyright independent of the fact whether they have got that sign on them or not.
Copyright laws do not prohibit using other people’s ideas in your own analysis and research. However, if you are using someone else’s ideas or findings as facts, you should credit the author properly. Facts that have been revealed as a result of someone’s research are considered to be the property of that person. Paraphrasing someone’s ideas and representing them as your own is again a type of plagiarism. One should not paraphrase someone else’s ideas, but rather analyze them from the point of view of his/her own research.
It should be noted, however, that information and facts borrowed from the U.S. government, facts that are not the findings of someone’s research, phonebook data and similar materials will not be considered plagiarized.
You should take care not to use materials and ideas of those people with whom you compete in the same market. If you use the ideas of another company in order to gain profit for yours, it will be considered unfair use of others’ intellectual property. And note that if plagiarism involves money or prize, it may be considered a crime punishable in court.
Now that you know the answer to the question ”What is plagiarism?” you will be able to avoid it more effectively. If you think someone else has plagiarized your work or idea, you can turn to a lawyer for legal help. An experienced lawyer may be able to help you collect the damages you have suffered both emotionally and financially.