In this article, Sachin Vats of Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law discusses laws relating to plagiarism in India.

Laws Relating to Plagiarism

We all know that the stealing of money or any tangible items comes under the purview of crime and are easy to identify but the stealing of ideas, words, expressions, illustrations, tables, figures, thoughts are very much too difficult to identify. This type of stealing are regarded as Plagiarism.


  • The incorporation of someone else’s work into our own work, with or without their consent and presenting it as our own without full acknowledgement is known as “PLAGIARISM”. It may be intentional or unintentional. It is one of the most severe violation of the Academic writing.
  • The English word “Plagiarism” has been derived from the Latin word “Plagiare” means  “to kidnap or abduct”.
  • To plagiarize means stealing and passing off the ideas or words of another as one’s own. It is a literary theft and can be taken as fraud because it contains both elements i.e., stealing someone else’s work and lying about it afterward.

Different Forms of Plagiarism:-

  1. The Potluck Paper :- The writer use different sources and compile them up to create a new article. Actually only few sentences and paragraphs are changed.
  2. The Photocopy :- Some significant portion are taken exactly without making any alteration.
  3. The Self-Stealer : – It is not considered as wrong or offence in India as the author has right to reproduce his own works as he or she wishes to make changes.
  4. The Ghost Writer : –  It is the exact copy of the work of another. All the words are copied accrediting to their own name.

Do Plagiarism amount to Fraud or Cheating?

  • The copying of another’s ideas without giving credit to the actual owner of the idea is said to be plagiarism. Plagiarism in normal sense considered as unethical issue but not a CRIME.
  • As someone else’s work or ideas are misrepresented as one’s own work, so it amounts to “Fraud”.
  • When the act has been done dishonestly it shows the ingredients of “Cheating”.
  • When a substantial portion of the copyrighted work is copied without the permission and knowledge then it amounts to criminal proceedings.It will amount to both the copyright infringement and the violation of “special right” of the author to be credited.

Do Paraphrasing amounts to Plagiarism?

  • When Paraphrasing is done, the source of the work must be cited to avoid Plagiarism. Paraphrasing is restating another person’s work in our own way, so the credit must be given to the real owner of the work.
  • We all know that the works created by other people is rightfully their intellectual property and if we use that work we are bound to acknowledge it. The point that is important here is that the original sources used in a work must be quoted in order to give due credit to the source from where it is taken.
  • Plagiarism shows the stealing of another person’s intellectual property which includes ideas, inventions, original work of authorship, words, slogans, design, proprietary information, etc.
  • Students must observe academic codes of ethics to avoid all forms of plagiarism. Merely incorporating the ideas which another writer has expressed without accrediting to that writer constitutes plagiarism.

Bill Gate has also expressed his views on Plagiarism as an “Intellectual Property Theft”. The theft of Intellectual Property with the use of computers and internet is on the rise in contemporary time.

  • It is done in three ways :-
  1. Stealng with the Web.
  2. Sealing within the Web.
  3. Stealing from the Web

Plagiarism and Copyright Infringement

  • Plagiarism invites the charges of copyright infringement in most of the cases. But there is a difference between plagiarism and copyright infringement. In plagiarism the use of author’s work is done without giving attribution to him whereas the use of author’s work without the permission where the work is protected by copyright, it is known as copyright infringement. Plagiarism is an act related with moral wrong apart from inviting legal action as the the original author has the moral right to be called the author of the work.
  • Plagiarism may occur even without the copyright infringement. Copyright infringement will occur only if the work that is copied is protected by copyright but the use of a work without crediting its author would be plagiarism.

Laws concerned with Plagiarism

  • The right not to be plagiarised is not recognised by any of the statute in India, but the section 57 of the Indian Copyright Act, 1957 gives authors the right to claim authorship of their works among other things.
  • The section 57 of the Indian Copyright Act,1957 grants to the authors the “special right” to be attributed for their work. It is a moral right and perpetual in nature. The statute recognises the right to attribution analogous to the rights not to be plagiarised.
  • Section 63 of the Indian Copyright Act, 1957 is considers infringement as the criminal offence and awards the same punishment for both i.e., the violation of section 57 and the copyright infringement.
  • The convicted infringers are awarded imprisonment that ranges between six months to three years under section 63 of the Act. They have also compensate in monetary terms for the act of infringing.
  • Section 63 (A) of the same act stipulates an enhanced penalty for second and subsequent convictions.

Civil Wrongs and Criminal Offences

Plagiarism is actually considered as an unethical conduct of a person and not a crime by itself.

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  • The violation of an author’s right to be credited and copyright infringement  are both civil wrongs and criminal charges can also be filed against the violator.
  • In case of a civil suit, the remedies that can be awarded are : injunctions to restrain further infringement, damages, the delivery of accounts of profit and both infringing copies of the work used to make them. Certain administrative actions may also be taken.
  • A convicted infringer is liable to be imprisoned between six months and three years, and to be fined between fifty thousand and two lakh rupees under section 63 of the Act. The punishment is enhanced for subsequent convictions.
  • Sometimes College and University rules for student conduct takes Plagiarism as an academic offense and not a legal offense. But this is not the actual case. Plagiarism is not only an academic offence but also a legal one.

Who will be Liable For Plagiarism?

  • One who is claiming the copyright of the work is liable for Plagiarism. Generally, the Publisher has an exemption clause in the agreement with the Author and says the views are of  the Author only, in that case the Author is Liable and the Publisher can claim immunity. In other cases both can be prosecuted.
  • Plagiarism generally constitutes false claim of authorship regardless of the material protected by copyright. Hence, the Author is responsible for it when it is concerned with academic credit. The Publisher is held liable in the case of Copyright infringement. Generally, the claims of Plagiarism leads to the claim of Copyright Infringement.

Some Misconceptions that Arise

  • If the language used in any of the article is completely different from the original article then it does not infringe the copyright of the original writer but depending upon the circumstances, the later article may violate the moral right of the author of the original article to be credited for his work.
  • The exclusive rights to reproduce, adapt,translate and publish their work or to allow others to do so are collectively called “Copyright”. “Self-Plagiarism” is not considered as offence or wrong in under the Indian Copyright Act,1957 as the author who is the owner of the copyright has all the rights for reproduction of the work or to make adaptation to the work.

Indian Judiciary and Plagiarism

  • The dramatic allegation of plagiarism was made on the Divisional Bench of the Delhi High Court by the Spicy IP blog on December 1, 2015. The Delhi High Court plagiarised thirty three paragraphs of its judgment in Roche V. Cipla case from a law review article written by Swetashree Majumdar and Eashan Ghosh in the Queen Mary Journal of Intellectual Property. The Delhi High Court acknowledged the truth of the plagiarism report in an order passed on th 8th December, 2015 and apologised to the authors. The responsibility of the plagiarism was laid down to an intern who was told to write a precise facts of the case.

“What will happen to the Education System of our Country if the torchbearers who have academic responsibility on their shoulder are indulge in the activities of plagiarism ????”

Deteriorating Condition of Education System due to plagiarism

  • After a lot of cases arising about plagiarism, the regulator of the higher education i.e., UGC (University Grants Commission) is serious about it and provided guidelines to be followed by the Universities to check plagiarism in academic activities. Puducherry University has taken strict measures against plagiarism and dismissed a faculty member guilty of plagiarism. All these incidents are very unfortunate and disappointing for our current educational standard. Plagiarism is considered as an academic sin by the Universities all over the world.
  • India does not have any particular statutory body to deal with academic plagiarism and the cases related with plagiarism are often dealt on Ad-Hoc basis depending upon the different situation and nature of the case.In the era of professionalism, one of the important topic that needs attention is “Professional Ethics”. If the world starts to copy one another then the individualism will lose its importance and it will lead to retardation in growth.

Measures Taken or Need to be taken

  • The Government of India is planning to make strict law to prevent plagiarism in academics. The law will consist provisions from warning to deregistration of students and dismissal of the teacher concerned.
  • The people working for the socio-economic and cultural development of the society facilitates us with enormous inventions and creations which are making our life better and easier. The need of the hour is to encourage the inventors and the creators. Their work must be rewarded by suitable legal protection through strict laws otherwise the people working behind the scene for the development will be at a loss.




  1. […] iPleaders Blog Post on Plagiarism law gives us a glimpse of India’s views on plagiarism. This makes me wonder and reflect on our Indian Education System. In the local schools, I  have observed that students photocopy school notes and college notes, memorize them and then finally regurgitate the content in their exams, to get scores or marks that will make him/her eligible to one of the best colleges in India. Are we preparing our students for a ‘copy and paste’ world or do we want them to think, reflect and create? […]

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