Plagiarism is a term that comes up frequently in both social and academic settings. It’s a concern for writers that they should be aware of. Plagiarism is taking someone else’s original work and attempting to pass it off as your own without giving them attribution. Even paraphrasing without proper credit can be considered plagiarism and may have legal consequences.

If you’re interested in avoiding plagiarism, continue reading. We’re going to cover why plagiarism is so prevalent, copyright infringement, if plagiarism is illegal, and what the consequences of it will be.

Why Plagiarism is Prevalent

Often, students and professionals are encouraged to utilize previously published research. This technique is not harmful and can be very positive. It results in work that is well-researched and has a solid foundation.

However, this can sometimes result in academic dishonesty. Situations may arise where students resort to paraphrasing or simply pasting and using quotation marks to pass off someone else’s research as their work. Proper attribution isn’t given to those research papers, and it ends up being considered plagiarized work in the academic world.

Another form of academic dishonesty is when writers paraphrase their work and attempt to spin it as something new. This act is considered self-plagiarism, and while it’s not necessarily as bad as plagiarizing someone else’s work, it is considered dishonest.

Still, this encouragement can result in more plagiarism for the following reasons:

  • Fear of failure.
  • Lack of proper time management.
  • Students not perceiving plagiarism as a problem.
  • Teachers are not encouraging more nuanced papers from their students, so students respond by giving run-of-the-mill responses.
  • Plagiarism is not vigorously reported.

Is Plagiarism Illegal

In most cases, plagiarism is not illegal. But it can result in being considered dishonest and possibly suffering academic consequences or being dismissed from places of employment if discovered.

The few cases where it would be illegal are where it crosses over into copyright infringement.

What is Copyright Infringement?

Copyright infringement is when a copyrighted work is reproduced, distributed, publicly displayed, or spun into a derivative work without the copyright owner’s permission.

When it comes to copyright infringement, you may be looking at some of the following examples:

  • Reproducing someone’s copyrighted work without making significant changes.
  • Downloading and distributing music illegally.
  • Using someone’s photographs, art, or creative work on a website without permission.
  • Selling merchandise with someone’s copyrighted work without permission.
  • Uploading someone else’s creative work sites, such as Instagram.

Consequences of Copyright Infringement

There are legal consequences for copyright infringement that may result in criminal charges if you’re found guilty of misusing another person’s work. The possible consequences for violating copyright law are criminal charges such as:

  • Imprisonment
  • Up to five years in prison.
  • $250,000 per copyright violation.

Sometimes the work of others may fall under public domain or fair use. Using copyrighted work without attributing it to the original author can be treated much like a form of plagiarism. You may not face a legal issue over misusing copyrighted material, but it will still be greatly frowned upon by others.

You may find yourself dismissed from jobs or removed from academic settings, respecting the intellectual property and artistic works of others is gravely important.

Consequences of Plagiarism

While plagiarism is not usually illegal and won’t result in legal consequences unless it crosses over into copyright infringement, that doesn’t mean there won’t be consequences. Those consequences typically come in the form of heavy punishment in both the workplace and academic fields. In some instances, those results can devastate and ruin your life if you intend to work in a particular area.

In academia, having plagiarized work and being considered a plagiarist can ruin your academic integrity. It can kill an academic career or work in the research community before it even begins.

Most educational institutions will encourage students and teachers to utilize software like Turnitin, to detect plagiarism in research papers. Some students will use search engines to pick up pieces of information and not credit them appropriately, which they don’t realize is a form of plagiarism.

It can be devasting to be accused of plagiarism in a professional setting. If this was a career that a person had spent years working to achieve, an accusation of plagiarism could damage your reputation.

Academic Consequences

In academic settings, plagiarism is viewed extremely poorly and considered a form of academic dishonesty. It can result in severe consequences for students:

  • Suspension or Expulsion
  • Failing Grades on the project or in the class
  • Harm to reputation
  • Need to take a course in plagiarism

Professional Consequences

Similar to academics, you can expect there to be professional consequences as well:

  • Loss of licenses
  • Losing job
  • Harm to professional reputation
  • Difficulty in obtaining another job


If you were worrying about whether or not plagiarism is illegal, it’s typically not. However, that doesn’t mean that it isn’t unethical, which it certainly is. It’s also possible that an author could choose to pursue someone for a copyright violation if they illegally reproduced their copyrighted work without their permission.

Even without plagiarism being illegal, because it is unethical and viewed with such disfavor by academia and professional communities, you can expect hefty consequences if you’re accused of plagiarism. If it’s found that you’ve plagiarized someone’s work, you could face expulsion from school, failure, damage to your reputation, loss of employment, and other consequences.

It can sometimes be difficult to avoid plagiarism, and doing so might be unintentional. But this isn’t something the student or professional should worry about. You can use a plagiarism checker to avoid engaging in the act. Quetext has excellent plagiarism detection software that can help you polish your work and ensure that it’s academically ethical.

With Quetext, you’ll be given a line-by-line analysis of where your work stands against other similar articles. The software will show you if matches are exact, near-match, or fuzzy. This program can allow you to adjust your text, so it’s no longer considered plagiarism. Furthermore, the software can generate several citations to credit your work appropriately.