Plagiarism and its Effects

Plagiarism and its Effects

 Plagiarism and its effects

by- Bhagya Subhash  

Borrowed thoughts, like borrowed money, only show the poverty of the borrower” ~Lady Marguerite Blessington

The word plagiarism, is generally considered as an act or practice of stealing or taking someone else’s work and portraying it as one’s own work with out giving credits. The Merriam Webster dictionary defines it as, 'to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one's own : use
(another's production) without crediting the source'.[1]
The word is derived from a Latin word, 'plagiarius' which translate to 'kidnapper'. A plagiarism is not merely stealing a someone’s work or idea but also not crediting its source. However, not all incidents of plagiarism are considered copyright infringement.
Plagiarizing works in the public domain, though unethical, is not considered copyright infringement. Also, plagiarism, in and of itself, is not illegal.
While it can be considered a mitigating factor in the event a legal dispute should arise, it is only considered illegal if it also constitutes copyright infringement. 

However, there are certain exceptions when copyright infringement, which are:- 

· 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. 

It is a heinous crime, only if it is done to gain profit, monetary or otherwise. Any act of stealing and to gain profit is a crime of plagiarism. In India, there is no separate statute for plagiarism, but under Section 57 of Indian Copyright Act, 1957 an author has the right to claim for authorship for their work. Moreover, Section 63 of Indian Copyright Act, recognizes infringement as a criminal offence and states the punishment as minimum of six months and a maximum if three years, or with fine from fifty thousand up to two lakhs according to the nature of crime. The Section 63A stipulates an enhanced penalty for repetition of offence. In case of civil suit, the remedies could be injunctions to restrain further infringement, damages, the delivery of accounts of profit and both infringing copies of the work used to make them.

Certain administrative actions may also be taken against them. 

Cases on Plagiarism 
  • The Indian Institute Management v. Uma Kant Srivastava case, a student anonymously brought into attention of the authorities that a book, “Quantitative Techniques for Managerial Decision” which was co authored by the petitioner along with two other authors, has similar content with three other books published years ago. An inquiry committee was set up and it found out that there was prima facie evidence to prove plagiarism.  


  • In CONNECTU LLC v. Mark
    Zuckerberg, the young billionaire, Mark Zuckerberg, was sued for stealing the idea of his three senior Harvard University graduates, namely Divya Narendra and the brothers Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss. It was claimed that the initial idea was to create a small network for Harvard students to connect with each other, and they had approached Mr. Zuckerberg for coding. But after a few months of that, the 'Facebook' was launched. The main contention was that their idea was not to involve multiple countries. However, Mr. Zuckerberg had to pay 65 million US Dollars to them as a compensation.  

In conclusion, the act of stealing someone else’s work is fine as long as it is being credited. In this growing era of internet and social media, where anyone can access anything, cases of plagiarism have increased steadily. A separate statute shall be made, where in all the different types of plagiarism and its consequences shall be listed out. The authenticity of work shall be maintained and it is up to the government to take action against it.  


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