Plagiarism vs Copyright Infringement: What’s the Difference?

Plagiarism and copyright infringement are both major issues when it comes to content creation…and re-creation. The two terms can be easily confused, and sometimes it’s hard to tell where the definition of one ends and the other begins. However, they both represent the concept of stealing someone else’s work and claiming it as your own.

In order to avoid violations of either (and the rights of the original writers), it’s important to understand what they are and what the difference is. Learning how to properly build on an original author’s work and credit them where needed is academic integrity, not to mention a professional necessity beyond the world of education.


Let’s start with plagiarism. Plagiarism occurs when one passes on an original source as their own work. An example of accidental plagiarism is when you copy a quote from a book and forget to use quotation marks and add the proper citation beside it. The same can occur if you are unsure how to create an accurate citation.

Another example is paraphrasing plagiarism. In this case, you may not believe you are copying another’s work because you put their ideas in your own words. However, this is still plagiarism if the proper credit is not given to the author.

Copyright Infringement

Copyright infringement is different from plagiarism because you have to have permission to use the work of another author. Essentially, the creator has protected work because they want credit for the outside distribution of it. Copyright law declares them a copyright owner of their work. One well-known example of unauthorized use that is easy to notice is using a quote from an author in the book without their permission and getting compensated for it.

Another example is using music in videos without the permission of the artist.  In this case, the songwriter or record label is the copyright holder, and the user has committed a copyright violation. Though in most cases, this sort of violation is unintentional, this is one of the most common copyright issues that create issues for people, and even more commonly, businesses.

Celebrities and brands may also have exclusive rights to phrases or even sounds, meaning that if someone else uses them and gets compensated for it, the original creator can be entitled to the earnings. This is another form of copyright protection.

Is Copyright Infringement The Same As Plagiarism?

Copyright infringement is not the same as plagiarism. While both are ethical issues in academia, it is important to understand that they are completely different. Plagiarism is simply not providing proper attribution of someone else’s work. Copyright Infringement is using someone else’s work without their consent.

Is Plagiarism A Form of Copyright Infringement?

Plagiarism is a form of copyright infringement. Also, one can violate both with one action. For example, copying information from an encyclopedia without providing proper attribution is both a copyright violation and an act of plagiarism. The encyclopedia is a copyrighted work. The owners of it have exclusive rights to its reuse and distribution. Passing your content off as your own without acknowledging that you took it from the encyclopedia is plagiarism.

Is It Plagiarism If It’s Not Copyrighted?

You can still commit plagiarism even if the work is not legally declared the intellectual property of another author. It is vital to respect the work and perspectives of another author by giving the proper attribution to signify that the original work is not yours.

It is so important that this becomes a common practice in academia because it protects you from getting into trouble or even failing a class.

Can You Plagiarize A Public Domain?

It’s easy to see how the rules of plagiarism and copyright infringement can get confusing because you can technically “plagiarize” a public domain. One thing to realize in this case is that it’s not legal to sue someone for plagiarizing a public domain.

At the same time, you can still be penalized for it in some cases.  If an educator poses as an original author of content on a public domain and takes credit for it, they are putting their career in jeopardy. Realistically, they could be terminated from their current position and find it difficult to find other work if they abuse this.

Let Quetext Help

As confusing as it can be, you’re not on your own to navigate these waters. Put simply, if it’s not your idea and you don’t have exclusive rights to it, get permission to use it and provide the proper credit to the original author.

At the same time, it’s possible to wind up in a totally accidental violation, which is why it’s so important for students, teachers, and copywriters alike to incorporate a plagiarism checker into their writing processes. With the most advanced algorithm for detecting instances of plagiarism and/or potential copyright infringement, Quetext takes the guesswork out of creating honest content.

DeepSearch™ Technology

Quetext’s DeepSearch™ Technology uses smart algorithms to check the possibilities of plagiarism and copyright infringement within an article. Not to mention, it is one of the fastest resources to do so. Speed does not compromise accuracy with Quetext.

Citation Generator

The citation generator is another one of Quetext’s most helpful features. Once content goes through the plagiarism checker, the technology identifies any passages that should have a citation. From there, you simply enter the source information, and based on the format of your content (be it MLA, APA, or Chicago), the citation is automatically generated for you. This feature makes creating citations so much easier, removing the guesswork from what to cite in addition to how to cite it.

ColorGrade Feedback

Quetext’s ColorGrade™ Feedback technology makes the final editing process a breeze. No more scouring your final draft for any instances of accidental plagiarism or a missing citation. We make it easy for you to understand which bits of copy need a second look, virtually eliminating the risk of all types of plagiarism.

The best part about Quetext is that it’s easily accessible and can be used by writers of all kinds. Students and teachers trust it for ensuring academic integrity. Copywriters depend on it to maintain their reputation and therefore their jobs. Quetext provides a win-win for everyone, protecting both the writers and the rights of the sources they reference.

Final Thoughts

Many people often mistake copyright infringement for plagiarism when, in fact, they are two different things. One can commit both acts with one action. However, the actual act of each differs based on not giving proper attribution and or using someone’s original copyrighted work without getting their permission. The best way to avoid the misunderstanding of plagiarism vs copyright infringement is to use a plagiarism checker like Quetext that will make creating honest content simple.