Plagiarism and other forms of copying

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July 9, 2012

The roots of plagiarism

Plagiarism has been with around since the formation of ideas. Before the dawning of computers, information technology, and the internet, people got away with plagiarizing. Today, plagiarism and other forms of copying can be detected and in some cases, even punishable by law.

As students, we were all warned that it is wrong to copy someone else’s homework or to ask someone else to do our homework for us. Simply put that is what plagiarism is all about, using someone else’s work and passing it off as your own. Wikipedia defines plagiarism as the incorporation of someone else’s work without providing adequate credit.

Fight against plagiarism

Plagiarism is a growing problem in education today. Schools, colleges and universities are doing all they can to combat this by using expensive anti-plagiarism software like Tunitin and Copyscape to name a few.

Search engine giant Google is also constantly coming up with ways to penalize websites with plagiarized or duplicate content, if found guilty, these websites are then taken out of their search engine lists. When this happens, websites are as good as being deleted from the web since no readers will be able to access them. Furthermore, authors and writers can set up Google alerts to notify them once their articles appear on other websites without their permission.

Other forms of copying

Although some people often think that copyright infringement is a form of plagiarism, actually it is not. According to Wisconsin Lawyer, vol. 84, No. 6, June 2011 plagiarism and copyright infringement are both examples of “copying”. If plagiarism is calling someone else’s work as your own, copyright infringement is when someone copies or uses someone else’s idea that is protected by copyright laws. Wisconsin lawyers define the difference of copyright infringement and plagiarism as “copyright infringement is copying without authorization, plagiarism is copying without attribution” and it is against the law. People and companies who are caught with copyright infringement can find themselves with civil punishments and in some cases; criminal charges may be filed against them.

Piracy is also often times related to copyright infringement and is a common problem in the music and movie industry where music and movies are downloaded online or copied and then sold illegally.

Patent Wars

Patent is another form of intellectual property which gives exclusive rights to the inventor or company. Famous patent wars include the Nokia vs. Apple where the latter was sued over alleged infringement of wireless standards.

All forms of copying are punishable by law.

Google vs Oracle

Perhaps, the most controversial infringement case is the recent one which Google won over Oracle. The search engine giant was cleared of any wrongdoing because under the presiding judge’s ruling APIs or application programming interfaces are not copyrightable.

Not everyone, whether an individual or a company, is as big as Google and has the billions of dollars to spend in never-ending lawsuits. With the continuous growth of technology and the internet, any form of copying will be found out and it’s best to avoid it by being original and not a copycat.

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