Plagiarism & Copyright

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Introduction | What is Plagiarism? | What is Copyright? | Fair Use | Citing | What is a Citation? | Citation Styles
Plagiarism: Yes or No?


When using information, there are some very important ethical considerations you need to keep in mind. Works created by other people is rightfully their intellectual property, and those who use those works are bound to acknowledge that. Some of the most important considerations are copyright, plagiarism, and citing.

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What is Plagiarism?

Taking the ideas or copying the language of another writer without formal acknowledgment is plagiarism.

Students who would never copy another student's exam answers may think nothing of borrowing the ideas or wording from another author. Writers must always document the ideas and information which are outside the realm of common knowledge. For example, well known facts require no documentation, while obscure facts would require documentation. When in doubt, it is always better to err on the side of caution and document your sources.

Plagiarism is a violation of NSU's academic policies and honor code. Plagiarism is also a federal crime and violates copyright laws.

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What is Copyright?

Copyright laws strive to balance the interests of copyright owners and users. A copyright owner has control or exclusive rights to prohibit users from using a work in specific way without the owner's permission. A copyright owner has the exclusive rights to control

  • distribution of their work
  • reproduction of their work
  • adaptation of their work
  • public performance of their work
  • public display of their work

It protects the copyright owner's monetary rights for a fixed period of time–a copyright owner has the right to profit from the sale or performance of a work. The fixed period of time varies, depending on the work, before the work enters the public domain.

Some works are in the public domain because they are not protected by copyright law. However, simply because a work is in the public domain, does not mean that the an individual can claim authorship of the work.

Varying protection dates

Copyright owners' rights–excluding anonymous works and works for hire–are protected for a fixed period of time can be sumarized

  • any work published on or before December 31, 1922 is now in the public domain
  • any work published between January 1, 1923 and December 31, 1978, is protected for a term of 95 years from the date of publication, with the proper notice
    • if the work was published between 1923 and December 31, 1963, the copyright owner may not have renewed the work and the original term of protection (28 years) would now be expired and the work will be in the public domain
  • after 1978, a work is protected for 70 years from the date the author dies–life of the author plus 70 years–regardless of whether or not the work was published
  • any work created before December 31, 1978, but never published, is protected for the longer of life of the author plus 70 years or until December 31, 2002

Works that are not protected

Works that are not protected by copyright law include

  • works that lack originality
    • logical, comprehensive compilations–like the phone book
    • unoriginal reprints of public domain works
  • common/standard works–like a calendar
  • works in the public domain
  • freeware–software an author makes available without any restrictions
  • US Government works–if printed by a commercial printer, may need copyright permission
  • facts, ideas, processes–processces can be patented

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Fair Use

Copyright laws do allow for limited uses of copyrighted materials, especially if the use offers societal benefits. These limited uses are commonly referred to as fair use.

Fair use is the legal right to copy a limited amount of copyrighted material without obtaining permission or royalty payment,. Four criteria are considered to determine if the use of a copyrighted work is fair

  • purpose and character of the use
  • nature of the work
  • amount of the work being used
  • effect on the market for the original work

Copying excerpts from books, periodicals, newspapers, and other works for purposes of criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research is generally considered to be fair use.

Purpose and character of the use

This refers to how the original work will be used

  • Is the use nonprofit or commercial?
  • Is the use transformative–commentary, parody. criticism, newsreporting?
  • Is the use educational?
  • Is it for personal use?

Nature of the work

This refers to the nature of the original work

  • Was the work published or unpublished?
  • Was the work more factual or more creative and imaginative?

Amount of the work being used

This refers to the amount of the portion used in relation to the entire work

  • Is a small portion or a large portion of the original work being used?
  • Are key or significant elements or sections of the work being used?

Effect on the market for the original work

This addresses the effect of the use on the market for the original work

  • Is the original work available for sale?
  • Is the use widespread?
  • How long and often will the work be used?
  • Will the use affect the the copyright owner economically–royalties?

Copyright resources
Plagiarism & Copyright

Be aware of the copyright laws that govern your research. Review these links for additional help.

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Citing your sources is key to avoiding plagiarism and to avoid violating copyright laws. Providing references for sources you use also lends credibility to your work, especially if you use authoritative sources.

If you quote or paraphrase the idea of another person in your research paper or speech or any means, you must provide a proper citation for the source in a bibliography or list of references. This gives credit to the author and enables the reader to locate the resource you cited.

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What is a Citation?

A citation is a reference to a source of information. It should include enough identifying information, including such information as the author, title, and source, so that a reader can locate a copy of the item. Citations may reference any type of information. The most common are

  • book citation
    book title, author, publisher, edition (if any), and year of publication.

  • magazine article citation
    article title, magazine title, author, publication date, volume number and page(s)

  • journal article citation
    article title, journal title, author, publication date, volume and issue numbers and page(s)

The order in which the citation elements are placed will depend on the style manualthat you use.

Book citations

The components of a book citation include

Magazine article citations

The components of a magazine article citation include


Journal article citations

The components of a journal article citation include

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Citation Styles

The writing style manual that your professor or program requests that you use will demonstrate the rules for properly citing a work.

American Psychological Association (APA), Modern Language Association (MLA), and Turabian/Chicago are the most commonly used writing style manuals. It is highly recommended that you purchase a manual, as you will likely use it a great deal in your academic endeavours.

APA style

APA Style Resources

  • Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. 6th ed. Washington, DC: APA, 2001. Available in the Sherman Library at  REF BF 76.7 P83 2010

MLA style

MLA Style Resources

  • The MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. 6th ed. by Joseph Gibaldi. New York: Modern Language Association of American, 2003. Available in the Sherman Library at  REF LB 2369 .G53 2003

Chicago/Turabian style

Chicago/Turabian Style Resources

  • The Chicago Manual of Style.Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993. Available in the Sherman Library at  REF  Z 253 .U69 2003
  • A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations. 6th ed. by Kate Turabian. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996. Available in the Sherman Library at  REF LB 2369 .T8 1996
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Plagiarism: Yes or No?

Do you know plagiarism when you see it?

Take a look at the original quotation below and then take a look at the two paragraphs that quote the original. Do either Paraphrase I or Paraphrase II plagiarize the original quote? Why or why not?

Original quote

In almost every college or university, the library is acknowledged by faculty, students, and administrators as the 'heart of the campus.' Yet on many college campuses, the potential of the library goes unrealized. The library becomes an underutilized, expensive storehouse. Librarians are seen as, or what is worse, perform as keepers of the books, or in the words of a Cambridge University faculty member, 'warehouse managers.' Consequently, library materials purchased to support the curriculum lie unused on the shelves. Students who frequent the library often use it as a study hall or as a convenient location for a social gathering. In addition when students have a course assignment or research paper that requires the use of library materials, they often perform poorly and spend more time than necessary. The reason for such poor performance is that most students do not have the necessary skills to effectively identify and use appropriate library materials.

Stoffle, C. J. The library's role in facilitating quality teaching. (As cited in Prentice Hall handbook for writers, 1995)

Paraphrase I

According to Stoffle (1995), the library is acknowledged by students and faculty as the 'heart of the campus.' In spite of this, the potential of the library goes unrealized. On most academic campuses, the library serves as little more than an underutilized and costly storehouse. Librarians are seen by library patrons as keepers of the books and 'warehouse managers'. The result is that library materials purchased to support class assignments lie unused on the shelves. Students use the library as a study hall or as a convenient gathering place. Even more troubling, students perform poorly when they have research assignments and spend more time than necessary completing their research. Most students do not have the necessary skills to effectively locate and use suitable library resources.

Paraphrase II

Although most academic institutions recognize that the library is the 'heart of the campus', students on most college and university campuses do not use libraries effectively or efficiently (Stoffle, 1995). Many students think of libraries as nothing more than warehouses for books and librarians as simply the custodians of the books. Library resources are not being utilized for class assignments and research while the library building, more often than not, is used as a handy location for students to study or meet. Even more troubling, students who do try to use the library to do their research do not know how to use the library effectively. The problem is that most students do not have the necessary research and library skills necessary to efficiently locate and use suitable library resources.

Correct Answer: No - both responses are correct. Refer to the APA Manual, 6th Edition, Section 6.01, pages 170-171 for a detailed explanantion on plagiarism.

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