Plagiarism is a violation of academic integrity and a breach of journalistic ethics. It is an act where one person copies a part or whole of someone else’s work and represents it as one’s own. Such violations can result in penalties and other forms of repercussions.
Is plagiarism illegal?
Plagiarism is a form of ethical violation of your academic or workplace’s code. If these institutions find you plagiarizing your work, you could end up getting punished, fired from your job, or even ruin your career.
The consequences of plagiarism depend on its seriousness.
Plagiarism becomes a legal issue when there’s a copyright infringement. This is the case when you copy someone else’s work without the right permission.
Yet, not all plagiarism accounts for copyright law violations. Though there is a fair commonality between plagiarism and copyright infringement, they are far from being the same.
Copying work or a part of it and not citing it correctly results in plagiarism. Copyright infringement is using the original work without the right permissions.
How does plagiarism affect you?
If you are a plagiarist, the implications can be personal, professional, ethical, and legal.
Today’s technology quickly detects plagiarism. Hence, people getting caught for plagiarism is on the rise.
Once accused of plagiarism, your entire work, reputation, and even your career could be on the line. People will always regard your work with suspicion.
The repercussions of plagiarism are different.
1) As a freelance writer
As a writer, you should be delivering original authentic content. It doesn’t matter who you are writing for; you should always be writing high-quality content that isn’t plagiarized.
It is crucial for both parties – the client and the writer – that there’s no plagiarism in the content. This is because plagiarism can end up in legal fights.
For the client, plagiarism can cause legal implications and can end up fighting lawsuits.
For the writer, one’s reputation will be on the line. Once deemed as a plagiarist, they will find it hard to find a job as people will always be suspicious of plagiarism in your work. This consequence of plagiarism can leave a mark on the writer’s reputation and even end his/her career.
Also, the relationship between the client and the writer will be on the line. Trust issues arise if the writer cannot deliver original content. This could end up in the writer losing the client!
2) As a website manager/SEO professional:
Duplicated content is a strict NO when it comes to Search Engine Optimization (SEO). SEO operates on original content. A website’s rank depends heavily on the quality of the content.
SEO is all about bringing your website to the top of Search Engine Result Pages (SERP). Your website’s rank depends on your content and its optimization level.
You cannot fool Google. Over time, Google grew smarter with its algorithms. They introduced crawlers that could recognize the authenticity of the content in real-time.
If your website consists of content copied over from different websites, you will see a drop in your rankings. It can also result in the removal of your website from the search results.
Search engines can penalize your website by taking your website off SERPs. You cannot manipulate SEO by plugging in duplicate content.
No matter the amount of money you spend on SEO, your website will suffer in terms of SEO performance and rankings without original content.
Your website may also find itself in lawsuits from original authors for their copying content. This can result in monetary repercussions in the form of penalties.
Other forms of monetary repercussions due to plagiarism will be the loss of your website. When the search engine downranks your website or removes it from SERPs for plagiarism, then you are losing out on your business. People won’t be able to find your website, and therefore, leading to a loss of finances.
As an SEO professional, you can even lose your job if you are involved in plagiarism! SEO depends heavily on the originality of the content. As a professional, if you can’t deliver quality content and resort to duplicating content, then your career might be in trouble!
3) As a student:
Students often find themselves in the act of intentional or unintentional plagiarism when they have to submit their papers and projects. Every academic institution has a code for plagiarism, and it differs for various universities.
A student can plagiarize his work by copying it from someone else, misrepresenting it, or presenting someone else’s work as his/her own.
When a student is involved in plagiarism, it starts with an investigation. If the investigation finds enough proof that the work is plagiarized, then a meeting is conducted with the student.
The consequences of plagiarism will depend on the level of plagiarism involved in the students work. Punishments for plagiarism may be harsh or light, depending on the institution. Some of the consequences of plagiarism are:
- A destroyed reputation of the student who committed plagiarism
- Let off with a formal warning
- Publicly shamed for his/her act
- Rejecting his/her assignment as a whole
- Offering no marks for the plagiarized work submitted by the student
- No second opportunity for resubmitting the work
- Failing the course/grade
- Losing the degree
- Getting expelled
Students involved in plagiarism are violating academic integrity. Institutions place these plagiarism codes to help students improve their critical thinking. These codes help students come up with skills to succeed in the modern world.
Students involved in plagiarism cases can face financial penalties, legal actions, and fines too.
Plagiarism can have some adverse effects.
1) Effect on original authors
When plagiarising, you claim someone else’s work as your own.
The original authors feel cheated. They aren’t getting the right attributes to their work.
Claiming their work as your own can end up in legal battles, which aren’t fun for you and the authors!
2) Readers feel cheated
Readers expect you to provide access to the original sources of the content. So, cite your sources.
They read your work for quality and originality. If it involves plagiarism, you are cheating on your readers.
3) Lack of creativity
Plagiarism is blatant copying! It does not induce any creativity.
Plagiarists copy content from many sources and claim it as their own. There’s no effort to come up with original content. People involved in plagiarism are making no efforts to upskill their talents.
Creativity is a skill that helps freelance writers, students, SEO professionals, etc. to excel in their field. Without it, you are stuck with copying content.
4) Encourages careless research
Plagiarizing without complete knowledge encourages carelessness.
Such work blurs the line between real science and fake knowledge.
Do not fake knowledge by publishing someone else’s work as your own.
5) An expensive legal fight
Getting caught in the web of plagiarism can prove expensive. Legal battles can be long and costly. Being involved in legal battles can cause you to pay heavily in fines, lawyer costs, investigator fees, etc.
Often, a court can also adjudge you to pay up for the damaged reputation of the author. Plagiarism can get messy when the level of plagiarism is high!
So, what did you learn?
Stay original! Stay clean from all forms of plagiarism.
It is not worth the effort.
Instead of copying other sources, spend time developing your own content. It is much more rewarding, and you do not have to face any consequences, either.