Plagiarism is an offensive attempt to misappropriate the original author’s ideas. Such an attempt is illegal and can be penalized. According to United States Copyright Law (USC), plagiarism penalties can be very appreciable. For example, Statute 17 USC#1202 outlines plagiarism as a violation which entitles the copyright owner to statutory damages of between US$ 2500 and US$ 25 000 for a first offense by the defendant, or payment of actual damages, whichever is greater. For a subsequent offense within three years, the damages may be tripled (i.e., statutory damages of at least US$ 7500). In addition, the judge “may award reasonable attorney’s fees to the prevailing party.” (Standler B. Ronald. Some observations on Copyright Law).
Moreover, copyright legislation is continuously evolving, with amendments that polish up existing penalty procedures and introduce new means and methods to protect copyright owners. Such serious actions bear witness to the damage created from plagiarism and the seriousness of the offence.
However, USC Fair Use Statute provides an honest and legal way to use other authors’ sources. For example, 17 USC #1203 gives a clear definition of fair use:
These new penalties for removing or altering a copyright notice give authors and owners of copyrights a new tool to prosecute plagiarists.
The fair use statute, 17 USC §107, says:
Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work… for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include…
- the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
- the nature of the copyrighted work;
- the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
- the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work. (Standler B. Ronald. Some observations on Copyright Law).
PLEASE REMEMBER THAT PLAGIARIZED USAGE, THAT IS NEVERTHELESS PROPERLY FOOTNOTED, MAY EVEN INCREASE THE VALUE OF THE PRIOR WORK… (A LEGAL REMEDY FOR PLAGIARISM? By JULIE HILDEN Rethinking The Ambrose And Goodwin Plagiarism Scandals).