Reporting plagiarism - whether it occurs in academia, online, or elsewhere - is an extremely serious matter. Accredited universities, which have reputations and research opportunities to maintain, go to great lengths to report plagiarism to academic authorities. Furthermore, online businesses must constantly watch out for unscrupulous writers and web designers who easily steal content, code and pictures with just a few mouse clicks. Whether you're a student, a writer, or someone who buys written content, you need to understand the stiff penalties of copying others' work. The following are some of the penalties offenders face when reported for plagiarism.
When most people think of plagiarism, they think of students passing off as their own the works of other authors, literary critics, or even other students. Academic plagiarism can involve verbatim copying from books or articles, but it can also consist of the use of unique ideas or theories without giving credit to their originators. Whatever the case, with the internet, vast scholarly archives and sophisticated anti-plagiarism computer programs, most professors can easily tell when a student is copying others' work.
When university students are reported for plagiarism, their cases are usually brought before their schools' judicial panels. Penalties vary depending on the severities of infractions. Sometimes students will craft well-cited essays but forget to give credit to their sources in just a few instances. Though perhaps not purposeful, these students' technical plagiarisms will usually still result in failing grades.
In cases of blatant copying, however, students face not only poor marks, they are at risk for academic probation and even expulsion. Failure to give due credit undermines the hard work of scholars in every field, and it is a gravely serious issue for universities focused on producing quality education and groundbreaking research.
Plagiarism on the Internet
With tens of millions of websites full of content, the internet has made plagiarism extraordinarily easy. However, anti-plagiarism programs such as Copyscape can scan the indexes of major search engines, making it very easy for people to report plagiarism. Copying others' work on the internet carries its own set of consequences.
To guard intellectual property on the internet, Congress passed the Digital Millennium Copyright Act in 1996. When a website owner or other content producer is found guilty under a DMCA claim, they can face legal penalties as a copyright infringer. Stealing web content is a form of copyright infringement, and offenders are often required to pay damages to compensate for original authors' losses of readership and profit. The most severe cases of copyright infringement can even result in jail time.
Aside from legal consequences, being reported for online plagiarism can destroy a business. Google and other search engines frequently remove plagiarizers' websites from their database, effectively killing their chances at getting new customers. Many readers view plagiarism with scorn and potential customers will often stop visiting sites that feature copied content.
Penalties for internet plagiarism should concern even the most scrupulous online businessperson. If you buy and host content that its "writers" stole from someone else, you are the one profiting from it, and you are the one who is liable under the DMCA and other anti-plagiarism laws. Please use the links below to learn more about this liability and how to properly mitigate it.