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ENGL U102 - Composition II - Professor Richie: Plagiarism & Copyright


Plagiarism is essentially using someone else’s words as your own. There are many different types of plagiarism, but they all involve citing your sources improperly (or failing to cite). Copying and pasting other people’s words as your own or buying a paper from a paper mill is wrong. Someone worked hard to write that paper and it’s only fair to cite them as the source when you use their ideas. 

You are under a lot of pressure as students. That’s why the Writing Center Staff and the Librarians are here to help you. If you plagiarize, you could be expelled or suspended. Please follow this guide to avoid embarrassment or worse. To learn more about plagiarism, please see the LibGuide, available at


Do you know what plagiarism is? Are you afraid you'll get in trouble for plagiarism and you want to make sure you know how to cite your sources correctly? Try this 10 question quiz to test your knowledge of plagiarism from the Indiana University School of Education.

Why is Copyright Important?

Even if you correctly cite according to the citation style manuals and give credit that the ideas were created by someone else you could be violating copyright.  If the expressions are fixed in a tangible medium (for example the pages of a book, video clip on a dvd, pages in a journal, or even a written speech) then the ideas are most likely protected by federal copyright laws.  Why would you take the ideas and thoughts of someone without permission? 

There are guidelines when borrowing intellectual property from others.  If a brief amount of the work (generally less than 10%) is used for an academic purpose (non profit accreditated educational institution like USC Upstate) for less than one semester (not to be used again for a second time) then it is likely okay to use the material if access is restricted (limited to your professor or classmates) under fair use guidelines.  To find out more about copyright visit 

What is Plagiarism?

plagiarism   The act of appropriating someone else's idea or work and passing it off as one's own. The growing problem of plagiarism in the secondary and tertiary sectors of education can be attributed to two major causes. One has been the trend away from end examinations towards continuous assessment of coursework. This increased reliance on work produced in unsupervised conditions as a basis for assessing learner achievement has created additional opportunities for unscrupulous students to present work written by others as their own. The other major factor has been the advance in technology and the easy availability of Internet access, which allows a dishonest minority of students to ‘cut and paste’ text from unacknowledged sources and incorporate it into their own work. More serious still is the international Internet market in essays, assignments, coursework, and dissertations, which allows students to buy bespoke or ‘off‐the‐peg’ pieces of written work and present them as their own. The ease with which this may be perpetrated, and the seriousness of the issue, particularly for awarding bodies and for institutions of further and higher education in terms of quality control, has resulted in the development of a range of software designed to identify any instances of plagiarism within a piece of written work. Such software is now widely used in universities and colleges, and students are often required to produce evidence that their work has been scanned and found clear of plagiarism by a designated software program.

Plagiarism’ is also the formal term applied to the practice of copying another pupil's work and submitting it without acknowledging the source. Technically, it would also apply as a consequence of the practice of some parents and carers who make substantial contributions to a pupil's homework or project work but allow the pupil to pass the work off as their own. It is also possible for a student to fall into the error of self‐plagiarism. This is the practice of using text from previously assessed work and including it verbatim in a subsequent essay or assignment without acknowledging its source. The reason why this is considered unacceptable is because the piece of text being used in this way has already been used to gain the student marks or credit. To resubmit it as though it were an entirely different piece of work amounts in effect to trying to claim two marks or sets of credit for one piece of work. If the piece of text is clearly acknowledged as part of the student's earlier work, however, it is permissible to include it, and such an inclusion is not classed as plagiarism.

Works Cited

"plagiarism"  A Dictionary of Education. Ed. Susan Wallace. Oxford University Press, 2009. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press.  University of South Carolina Upstate (prev. Spartanburg).  11 October 2011  <>