Plagiarism and copyright infringement are similar, but plagiarism raises ethical concerns, rather than legal ones. Plagiarism is taking someone’s work – their idea, opinion or theory – and claiming it as your own. The solution is proper attribution or citation. In other words, give credit where credit is due. Plagiarism is a significant violation of newsroom ethics that usually results in dismissal and often ends the offender’s journalism career.
Accusations of plagiarism can become legal matters when the person who objects to the use of his or her work sues for copyright infringement. This happens when someone not only takes someone else’s idea, opinion or theory but also copies the way the idea, opinion or theory was expressed.
Be clear that attributing copyrighted material to the author or creator protects you against charges of plagiarism. However, it does not protect you against a copyright infringement lawsuit.