Copyright verses Plagiarism

As part of Activity 7; Ownership, academic integrity and digital artefacts forum, I was drawn to the section about the difference between copyright & plagiarism. As a Level 7 tertiary tutor I am forever teaching students about APA referencing and reminding them to cite correctly and not to plagiarise in all it’s different forms. Yet I am are teaching these students an applied course who will become graduates and go into industry where you don’t need to APA reference. But you have to follow copyright laws, so as part of the learning outcomes we teach the laws and ethics of copyright.

I often get asked, isn’t plagiarism and copyright the same thing? I would say one is for academia and one is for industry, I have now realised this isn’t entirely correct. I like the example used in Plagiarism Checker (2015);

Plagiarism doesn’t have to include copyright infringement. For example, William Shakespeare’s plays are not copyrighted because they’re too old. Even though it would technically be legal to copy from one of those plays for an English assignment, it would still be plagiarism if you didn’t give credit to Shakespeare.


Figure 1 Venn diagram of plagiarism and copyright
This image is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.

I went on to use this example with my level 7 website design students with figure 1 to discuss plagiarism verses copyright, it turned into an excellent activity. Students knew about the existence of copyright laws and had respect for the laws but they had less respect for morality, often stating that APA referencing is pointless. I encouraged them to critically evaluate plagiarism and copyright, as a result they realised the importance of the links between academic and industry and that they do not exist as separate entities but have an association. I will now incorporate this discussion into all of my classes to give students a better understanding of plagiarism and copyright.


Reference List
Plagiarism Checker (2015) Plagiarism and Copyright Infringement: Is Copying Illegal?. Retrieved from


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