Difference Between Copyright Infringement and Plagiarism

Edited by Diffzy | Updated on: April 30, 2023


Difference Between Copyright Infringement and Plagiarism

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It isn't easy to create original work. It requires passion and a lot of hard work. Any creation is intellectual property. It is considered intellectual property if someone steals an idea from the creator and reaps academic and commercial benefits. Although copyright infringement and plagiarism are related, copying content without author consent is not plagiarism. Plagiarism is stealing another person's unique and original creation without crediting them properly.

On the other hand, copyright infringement refers to the unauthorized duplication or theft of another person's original and creative work in a manner that is explicitly prohibited by law. Individuals, businesses, and organizations who create unique, the novel works often apply for copyright protection. This protects them from copyright infringement and allows them to earn money.

Although plagiarism and copyright infringement are both intellectual theft, their implication can affect the original creator differently. Copyright infringement is a major reason why many businesses and copyright owners lose millions of dollars each year. Plagiarism can cause talented artists and authors to lose their hard work.

Many people mistakenly believe that plagiarism and copyright infringements are the same things. Both of these activities, however, are distinct. This article will easily explain the differences between plagiarism and copyright infringement.

Copyright Infringement is different from plagiarism. Copyright infringement can lead to a criminal offence and a fine or imprisonment. On the other hand, plagiarism is not a crime and can be punished with a suspension, sanction, and fine. Copyright infringement is different from plagiarism because of the concept behind each. Copyright infringement is a term that refers to literary, dramatic, artistic, and other works. These terms are even more important due to the rapid advancement of technology and widespread internet use. It might seem difficult at first to differentiate between plagiarism and copyright infringement. It is not easy to distinguish between plagiarism and copyright infringement. Let's look at their meanings and then identify the difference.

Parameter for Comparison Copyright Infringement Plagiarism
What is it? You may not use the work of the copyright holder without his permission. You can use the work of another person without attribution.
Loss Monetary losses Do not get diligent credit
Offense Criminal offense Offences that are not criminal
Common terminology Freebooting, piracy and theft of intellectual property Literary forgery and art forgery are all possible.
Punishment You will be sent to jail or fined. You can be punished with severe fines or suspension, and even expulsion from school for plagiarism.
How to avoid You must obtain permission from the copyright holder for the use of the work. You can give credit to the source or modify the original work in a suitable manner.

Thus this tabular comparison shows a basic difference between copyright infringement and plagiarism. We are going to dive down into the details section of the topic, and see some case studies about it along with its primary differences. So let’s get started!

Copyright Infringement is the unauthorised reproduction, distribution, display and performance of works that are protected by copyright law. Permission is required. It is the act of selling someone's work or commercially exploiting it without permission.

It is a violation of rights that the copyright owner has granted to the work's exclusive use for a specified period by a third party. Third parties can obtain permission to use the copyrighted works by obtaining licensing arrangements.

Copyright Act gives the copyright holder, i.e. The copyright act gives the creator of the work a variety of rights that can only be used by him/her. It includes the following topics: literature, music composition, artworks, audio-visual, paintings and sound recordings.

Copyright refers to the right to reproduce or copy the work. The only people who have the exclusive right to reproduce it are the creators and any person they authorize. Copyright protection is required for unique works such as music, films, novels, movies, websites, and software. Companies and individuals can register for copyright protection in order to maximize their profits. They can also grant permission to others to use their work by licensing or selling the copyrighted materials to another party.

Copyright infringement is the misuse of copyright-protected materials without permission from the owner. This is illegal duplication or theft. This is a crime that can be punished by law. Additionally, disputes regarding copyright violations can be settled through direct negotiations, sending a notice for it to be taken down, or civil litigation. Many cases of copyright infringement have been brought on by digital technology advancements and widespread internet use. Many copyrighted movies can be downloaded via torrents and other websites.

Copyright Infringement: Exceptions

Copyright law states that the information or idea concerning the work is not protected, but the expression of the idea. Copyright infringement occurs when a copyright holder copies an expression of the work.

There are exceptions to the rule. These exceptions can be made even if the license has not been obtained or rights have not been assigned. These exceptions include

  • Fair use
  • Public Domain
  • Non-Copyrightable Works

Definition of Plagiarism

Plagiarism is when the original work of an author is copied and modified in a way that makes it look new. The term work can be used to refer to ideas, words and images as well as music.

If you don't give credit to the original creator of the work, it means you are presenting the idea in a new way. It is Plagiarism. You can do it intentionally, recklessly or accidentally.

Plagiarism is the act of copying work or ideas from another person and making them your own. This term is mostly used in academia. Plagiarism refers to all published texts, both in printed and electronic format. Plagiarism also includes unpublished materials such as lecture notes or essays from students. Plagiarism can also occur in many forms:

  • Submission of work by someone else as your own
  • Incorrectly using a quotation in quotation marks
  • Incorrect information regarding the source of a quote
  • You can copy ideas and words from another person without credit
  • Change words, but duplicate the sentence structure of a source.

Plagiarism is a serious offence in academia. The penalties can range from deducting marks to expulsion. The severity of the matter will determine the penalty. The best way to avoid plagiarism, however, is to properly cite the sources.

What is Plagiarism?

For written work:

  • You can alter the creative work of someone else.
  • You may copy words and ideas from an existing work but not give credit.
  • Do not use quotation marks where necessary
  • Inadequate information regarding the source of the data.
  • You can copy the entire sentence but change some words to make it more interesting for the reader.
  • You can only copy a certain number of sentences or words from a source. This is the maximum amount of work you can do.

You can avoid plagiarism by citing the source.


Plagiarism is the act of copying other people's ideas or work and making them your own. Copyright infringement is the misuse of copyright-protected material without permission.


While plagiarism can be considered an ethical problem, copyright infringement can be considered a legal matter.


Plagiarism is the copying of any work, even work without copyright. Copyright infringement, however, only applies to work that is protected by copyright.


Plagiarism is characterized by written work that is both in printed and electronic format. Copyright infringement, however, can include music, art, movies, website content, or other media.


Copyright infringement can also be considered a civil offence. Plagiarism is not a crime, but it can lead to expulsion from college.

Some case study illustrating the differences between plagiarism and copyright infringement

Copyright doesn't protect ideas. Copyright does not protect ideas. It protects only the expression of those ideas. Copyright is violated when someone copies, distributes or displays the work. Copyright law is violated if the work is copied, distributed, displayed, etc. Copyright infringement can be a serious legal problem.

Plagiarism, on the other hand, is the act of appropriating the work of another person without acknowledging the source. Plagiarism can be avoided by ensuring that you give credit to the original source whenever you use the ideas or works from someone else. This is an ethical problem that university policies address. If violated it may lead to negative consequences. However, it is not a legal matter.

You can be guilty of one or both of these things simultaneously.

Scenario 1:

Plagiarism without copyright violation: If you take Shakespeare's sonnets, copy them, add your name to them, and then upload them to a website, you will be accused of plagiarism, but not copyright infringement. You can copy Shakespeare's works and make your own copies. You can't pass off Shakespeare's work as your own. You must correctly credit and cite the source of information that you have borrowed from others to avoid being accused of plagiarism.

Scenario 2:

Copyright violation, but not plagiarism: If you take lyrics from a top 40 song and put them on a website without crediting the artist or singer who recorded it, you will be accused of copyright infringement but not plagiarism. You are not claiming the ideas you have copied from the original source because you have credited the source. You are violating copyright owners' copyright by distributing copyrighted material you don't have permission to.

Scenario 3:

Both plagiarism and copyright violation. If you take the lyrics from a top 40 song and put them on a Web page, claiming they are your work, you will be accused of copying the work.

These are the main reasons to distinguish between plagiarism and copyright infringement.

  1. Copyright Infringement refers to when copyrighted material can be used without permission from the copyright owner. If the exclusive rights are violated, the wrongdoer will be held responsible for any monetary damages. Plagiarism is when someone steals or copies ideas or words from another person and makes them their own without credit or reference to the source.
  2. Copyright infringement refers to the unauthorised use of creative work that belongs to another. Plagiarism, on the other hand, refers to claiming or trying to claim ownership of creative work belonging to someone else.
  3. Copyright protected works are the subject of copyright infringement. Plagiarism covers all types of creative works.
  4. Copyright infringement is not about attribution. It is more about permission. Copyright violation can be considered to have occurred regardless of whether the author, source or copyright holder is cited. Plagiarization is not possible if proper citations are given.
  5. Copyright infringement concerns the expression of ideas. Plagiarism is about ideas.
  6. Copyright infringement can be a serious legal problem. Someone could threaten or take legal action against someone who copies the work. Plagiarism, on the other hand, is a moral and ethical offence, since the accusation does not have to lead to litigation.


So now we have reached the conclusion of the topic. Both plagiarism and copyright infringement are devastating to the economy and the style of writing of any content. It can also cause social unrest in many countries that are less developed. Criminal groups can perpetrate Copyright infringement and cause substantial revenue loss for governments in different parts of the globe.

Plagiarism, on the other hand, is a hindrance to idea development. Plagiarism can lead to deprivation of original thought and discouragement from seeking new knowledge. These practices are immoral, and many government and academic institutions have taken steps to end them.

Many agencies fight copyright infringement, such as the International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA), Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT), Federation Against Software Theft [FAST], and Entertainment Software Association. Various plagiarism detection tools are available to combat plagiarism practices, such as Dupli Checker and Copyleaks, PaperRater Plagiarisma, and Plagium.


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  2. https://search.informit.com.au/documentSummary;dn=504523406983878;res=IELHEA
  3. https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ765670


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"Difference Between Copyright Infringement and Plagiarism." Diffzy.com, 2023. Tue. 06 Jun. 2023. <https://www.diffzy.com/article/difference-between-copyright-infringement-and-plagiarism-298>.

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