Comparing and Contrasting the Restrictions on Copying Imposed by Copyright Law


There are various similarities between plagiarism and copyrighting, though the two have different definitions. Plagiarism can be defined as the use or representation of another person’s work without giving proper credit to the original author or by failing to cite the source. Copyright on the other hand is a legal arm that protects the original creator of different works against those who use their pieces of work without any form of authorization by the owner (Stepchyshyn and Nelson 2007). Plagiarism is both an immoral and unethical act. It is not in any sense an act of crime but at the same time, it is inappropriate within the society based on morality and ethical aspects that define the society. This, therefore, provides the basis and relevance of copyright law. Copyright action is imposed on all forms of creative works categories such as articles, stories music, movies, soundtracks, photographs, and all other creative works all of which are considered to be pieces of original works (Lampert, 2008).

Restrictions on copying imposed by copyright law

Copyright law is a legal mechanism that guarantees originators of works of arts, literature, music, and so forth the right to control how, where and by whom, their works and ideas are used. The original owner of the creative works is allowed to sue any person who plagiarizes his or her work in a federal court of law because an individual who carries out a plagiarism act is seen as a violator of the copyright laws (Stepchyshyn & Nelson 2007). Copyright laws are intended to protect the original creator of pieces of work against malicious people who take advantage of other people’s creativity and also it is intended to advance the knowledge of these people by giving them an economic incentive as a way of encouraging him/her to create new works (Marsh, 2007).

Copyright law does not give blanket cover or immunity to everything that passes off as a work of art, literature, or idea. On one hand, it provides respite for authors to come up with new ideas from time without fear of losing their claim to the original pieces. But on the other hand, it provides leeway for copying material that is considered not original to one specific person or entity (Stepchyshyn & Nelson 2007).

Works that are considered copyrightable include those that can show evidence of concrete original ideas. Materials that can be copyrighted according to the United States Copyright Office should have certain characteristics: the material should be fixed (written on paper, online, and so forth)-verbal material cannot be copyrighted; should show a degree of originality; should include an ounce of creativity. The works need not be entirely original but if it is transformed in a whole new way then it is eligible.

Works that do not qualify for copyright include information that is public domain, government works (judicial opinions, administrative rulings), works created by federal government employees on an official duty capacity; in cases of slogans and logos, they are not eligible but can be protected by trademark law (Lampert, 2008).

Restrictions on plagiarism and paraphrasing

The use of another person’s thoughts, ideas, or inventions without consent is considered a literary theft, as it involves both pilfering another person’s work and later deceiving about it. Plagiarism in academics is happening in an unrestrained manner and is regarded as a menace since it’s turning out to be a very grave problem in learning institutions (colleges, universities, and so forth) all around the world (Stepchyshyn and Nelson 2007). Paraphrasing on the other hand is simply defined as summarizing an author’s original works, information, and ideas. Paraphrasing has restrictions that check on plagiarism. One of the restrictions comes when outside information is being paraphrased. One has to take precautions when paraphrasing to give credit to the original author of the information or ideas to avoid plagiarizing (Stepchyshyn and Nelson 2007).

Students in colleges and universities in America are faced with challenges of producing original works as they face several instances of plagiarism or copyright issues. Institutions within the United States note that plagiarism can be unintentional and at the same time may be intentional. Students, who plagiarize apart from dishonoring the original owners of the works, also bring their names into disrepute. They are never able to learn the skills and know-how that go into the research and writing of papers or documents (Stepchyshyn and Nelson 2007).

In cases where one is using interviews as a source of information, it is vital to understand that the information is originally from the source of the interview (person being interviewed). Plagiarism occurs when the information, ideas, or remarks of the source are used without acknowledgment or citation. You should always give credit to the remarks used whether paraphrased or used word for word. This is done by putting quotes before and after the information from the source and at the end of the sentence/quote, placing the source’s name in parentheses. Despite plagiarism not being defined as against the law, it goes against the morally set rules that govern and guide people.

All the sources cited within a paper, their remarks, ideas, words, the information they have given should all be included in a reference list page at the end of the paper. This paper provides a bibliography of what has been used in the body of the paper and a reference of acknowledgment of every source mentioned or used (Stepchyshyn & Nelson 2007). Citation is very important and one cannot afford to only have works cited page without citations within the text whether necessary; and vice versa. It will still be believed to be plagiarism if either one of these is found missing in the paper, therefore it is imperative to always include in-text citations plus works cited page (bibliography) in the most appropriate citation style.

It’s common practice to find students borrowing information and ideas from a wide range of outside information sources. These sources consist of books, periodicals, journals, academic papers, and so forth. They go ahead to paraphrase this information and change the wordings hereby passing it as their original work without citing the source (Lampert, 2008). Citing the source of particular information is very important and a requirement even if one happens to be quoting from a source that they have authored. When a citation is given in the paper and credit shown to the original author of an idea used, then this is not considered as plagiarism (Stepchyshyn and Nelson 2007).

Plagiarism can be avoided by giving credit to the original owner of the work being used or quoting them. Writing and research skills are taught or acquired along the way, and this should be put into use to avoid being plagiarism. As shown above, it is not a crime but a moral crime. Avoiding plagiarism can be through clear and correct evaluation of secure sources for any material used; selecting and using fitting quote/ extracts; restating something using other words, to make it sound original; careful note-taking; and the most important of all is to give credit to the ideas and works of other people if any is used through citing them (Lampert, 2008).


Plagiarism is a menace that robs authors of their rights and prestige. Plagiarism is now more profound and widespread not only in academics but across all boards and is happening in an unrestrained manner. It is regarded as a menace since its turning out to be a very grave problem in learning institutions (colleges, universities, and so forth) and various institutions all around the world. Academic plagiarism which can also be referred to as cheating has been noted to be very common in research papers in students on course to obtain their degrees and doctorates. This seems a rather disturbing scenario and a turn of events in the academic world. Plagiarism can be avoided by giving credit to the original owner of the work being used or quoting them. Writing and research skills are taught or acquired along the way, and this should be put into use to avoid being plagiarism. As shown above, it is not a crime but a moral crime. Copyright law comes in to offer a respite to aggrieved originators of material, information, ideas, and so forth. Although the copyright action is not very definitive in terms of originality and creativity, it offers authors a chance to secure their works. Therefore avoiding instances where people pass of their works as their own. Copyright provides the legal framework where original developers of works of art and literature can look after their interests. The violation of copyright is very closely related to plagiarism.


Lampert, L. D. (2008). Combating student plagiarism: an academic librarian’s guide. New York, NY: Chandos.

Marsh, B. (2007). Plagiarism: alchemy and remedy in higher education. New York, NY: SUNY Press.

Stepchyshyn, V. & Nelson, R. (2007). Library plagiarism policies. New York, NY: Assoc of College & Research Libraries.