In this blog post, Surbhi Kapoor, a student of Amity Law School, Delhi GGSIPU writes about the increasing menace of plagiarism in today’s academic world since research scholars have used this resort to complete their research work in a great magnitude.  The article mentions about all the laws that govern plagiarism, types of plagiarism and differentiates between plagiarism and copyright infringement which is commonly used interchangeably.

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Completing last minute assignments in schools and colleges is no more a big task. The credit for same goes to the internet and also books where tons of articles are available for reference. Though these articles are available only for secondary help, the students are expected to write in their words so that they get a sense of understanding of the topic. Isn’t that the reason why students are given research work? But most of us will agree that technology has made our life very easy. With the press of a few buttons like cut, copy and paste, it is now a small task to complete research work. But what about the authors whose primary research is copied by school and college students to complete their last minute assignments? The same technology is ruining the life of many research scholars as they suffer from being victims of plagiarism. Many times the scholars actually may not even be aware that their research has been used, and due credit has not been given to them. Plagiarism is considered to be a sin for college students as it defeats the purpose of writing research ideas. The creativity expected from students will only be the outcome when are original ideas of the author are published. Here, there is only one victim who is the copyright holder.

plagiarism

Plagiarism refers to the act of using or taking someone else’s work and then passing the same as own without giving due credit and recognition to the author. Plagiarism is all around us, and even then we fail to notice it. In this era where every technology is of prime importance, primary research and creativity can easily be exploited. The work available on the internet is vulnerable to plagiarism. There are two victims of plagiarism who are the copyright holders and the public who believe that the secondary work is the original work of the author.

India is a part of various international treaties to prohibit plagiarism. The copyright act reflects the Berne convention. This convention aims to protect the rights of authors by establishing various protection standards for their work. Similarly, India is a part of many other treaties such as Universal Copyright Convention, Geneva Convention for the Protection of Rights of Producers of Phonograms and is an active member of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (“UNESCO”).

The Indian government has also taken a various step to protect plagiarism in the software industry, the music industry, and motion pictures though associations such as  National Association of Software and Service Companies (NASSCOM), National Initiative Against Piracy and Counterfeiting (NIAPC).

There can be very strong repercussions for plagiarized work that may not only harm the reputation of the plagiarist but also tangle him in a law suit. Plagiarism is an ethical sin.

Types of Plagiarism

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  1. Copy and Paste

This is the most common type of plagiarism where no or very less effort is required to copy a part of any text and use it as a part of one’s research work without giving reference to the original author of the text. It is also very easy to test for copy-paste plagiarism with the help of various plagiarism check tools available on the internet.

 

  1. Idea plagiarism

If an author has written about something unique or on a creative idea on which nothing had been previously written, it must be clearly be credited to the author. Example – if someone has written about a very feasible way of rainwater harvesting, then before further using that technique in any other research work, the author of the primary research article should be credited.

  1. Word Switch

Many times people prefer to take a few lines from some source and try to change a few words from the sentence. This is also a very common type as here it is difficult for the online check software to detect plagiarism. However, this is still plagiarism. It is not essential to directly quote the sentence from a primary source. If by reading those sentences a layman can figure out about the original research article, then it shall refer to plagiarism.

 

Difference between Copyright Infringement and Plagiarism

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Often plagiarism and copyright infringement are spoken interchangeably, but it is important to know that both are not the same thing.

Copyright infringement is illegal to use of work that is protected under the copyright law without due permission from the author. The author has exclusive rights to reproduction of the work. The duration of copyright varies depending on the work that is being protected. For original literature, musical drama artworks, the duration is a lifetime of the author and sixty years after the death of the author. For movies, photograph or government work the protection is for sixty years counted from the date of publication.  Any infringement of copyright does not only lead to civil remedies like an injunction, damages or a share of profit to the author and cost of legal proceeding but it is also a cognizable offense. The punishment can range from six months to three years with a fine ranging from Rs. 50,000 to Rs. 2, 00,000.If there are multiple complaints about subsequent offenses of plagiarism, there are provisions to increase the fine, and give harsh punishment. There are also provisions to file a complaint which is first information report (FIR) with the police and seize the infringed material without court intervention.Foreign national who want to copyright their work in India will be protected under the copyright act if their country is a signatory to the conventions that have been signed by India. They shall be protected through International Copyright order, 1999. Indian court pays special attention to protection of work of foreign authors such as software, motion pictures, etc[1].

A copyright owner has various rights such as

  • To publish his work
  • To produce or be able to reproduce the original work
  • Make multiple copies of the work
  • Prevent any unauthorized use of the copyrighted work

Plagiarism, however, is considered to be an ethical issue. Here, the work of the author is used without giving him due credit. Plagiarism does not only include exact works of the author, but it also incorporates the use of ideas of another person without giving credit to the original author. Section 57 of the copyright act give the author a special right to claim authorship of his work even without having copyright of the work.The punishment for plagiarism is that same as the punishment for copyright infringement. The punishments are mentioned under section 63 and 70 of the copyright act. These offenses are bailable offenses.

Further, Section 63 of the Copyright Act which deals with infringement as a criminal offense contemplates the same punishment for both the violation of Section 57 and copyright infringement. Considering this parity in the statute itself, the confusion between infringement and plagiarism is understandable.[2]

Plagiarism may not always be committed intentionally, but there can be no excuse for stealing another person’s ideas or research without acknowledging the author. With the increasing use of internet, it becomes essential to be cautious before using ideas from the internet. It is not just students who are misusing research work; there have been some instances were research scholars were found misusing research of other scholars. Those who write to earn a living should be extra vigilant not to make any such mistake. The record of Bharat Ratna C.N.R. Rao, scientific adviser to India’s prime minister and one of the nation’s most celebrated scientists, is marred by a cavalier approach to plagiarism and more than one instance of serious breach of academic ethics.[3] Another instance where seven Stanford University physicists, three of them Nobel laureates, wrote a complaint against various instances of plagiarism by BS Rajput, a physicist and then vice-chancellor of a University in Uttarakhand.  Such news gets widely reported in the academic world. For academic scholars, publishing is an integral part of their career. Plagiarism will result in loss of reputation and may ruin the academic career of the research scholar.

Footnotes:

[1]. http://www.mondaq.com/india/x/406982/Licensing+Syndication/Copyright+Law+In+India

[2]http://copyright.lawmatters.in/2011/09/101-copyright-infringement-and.htm

[3]http://thewire.in/3307/in-india-you-can-plagiarize-and-flourish/

 

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