Plagiarism is when you use content (including text, music, or multimedia content) that has been written or created by others without giving them due credit. Plagiarism can be accidental or intentional, but in either case it is considered unethical and should be avoided. The Internet has led to a rise in plagiarism since content can so easily be lifted from one Web page and posted on another.
Some forms of plagiarism include:
- Using ideas developed by others on your site without acknowledging the originator
- Using graphics, charts, or site layouts from other Web sites
- Paraphrasing the contents of other Web sites on your own Web site without providing references to the original Web sites
Occasionally, two or more people come up with the same idea or inference based on research and publish it on the Web. This is referred to as "simultaneous inspiration," not plagiarism.
It is possible to commit plagiarism without violating copyright law if, for example, you copy a work on which the copyright has expired or change the wording enough that the copyright does not apply. Conversely, it is possible to violate copyright law without committing plagiarism. For example, distributing electronic copies of a book while giving full credit to the author would violate copyright law without being considered plagiarism.
Give credit to your sources: Whenever you use ideas or materials from another Web site, make sure you give due credit to the originator by including appropriate references on your Web site. If you use text verbatim from another Web site, put it in quotes and include the link at the end of the text.
According to West’s Encyclopedia of American Law , “Plagiarism is not a legal term; however, it is used often in lawsuits. Courts recognize acts of plagiarism as violations of copyright law, specifically as the theft of another creator’s intellectual property.”