You probably heard plenty of times while in school that anyone caught plagiarizing on an essay or similar assignment would be in serious trouble. But it may come as a surprise to learn that plagiarism is far more than just a form of academic dishonesty. It can get you also get you in trouble with your employer, and leave a serious mark on your professional record.
Plagiarism is generally considered to be one person attempting to pass off the ideas or writings of another person as his or her own unique thoughts, and this behavior constitutes a serious violation of intellectual property rights. While it differs from copyright infringement, a federal crime involving the presentation of literary, graphic, musical, artistic, or electronic works, plagiarism can easily lead to legal ramifications.
A Number of Forms
The definition of plagiarism casts a wide net, covering a range of behaviors that many fail to realize as unethical. For example, university students can easily commit a plagiaristic act without realizing it in culling bits and pieces from several sources without ever properly citing them. Other common ways in which someone can be guilty include:
- Changing or rearranging a few words in a sentence or block of text so that it does not exactly resemble the original
- “Copy and pasting” information from one webpage and reposting it on another without requesting permission for reproduction, especially common in internet-based occupations.
- Lots of people are amazed to learn that you can actually be accused of plagiarizing yourself. However, using your own words and ideas from a previous work without identifying them as dated can be considered from this angle as well.
Again, plagiarism is not a crime under common law, instead coming to court in cases of civil litigation. However, someone found guilty in a civil setting may be exposed to criminal charges as well if more information about his or her activities comes to light.
If you have been accused of plagiarism, you owe it to yourself to speak with an experienced defense attorney who can let you know just how much you are at risk for more serious allegations. Contact the San Jose criminal defense attorneys at the law offices of Daniel Jensen, S.C. today by calling (408) 296-4100 to find out where you stand.