10 Difference between Copyright Infringement and Plagiarism (With Table)

What is the main difference between copyright infringement and plagiarism? Copyright infringement refers to the use of copyrighted-materials without permission of the copyright holder, while plagiarism refers to the act of taking someone else ideas and passing them off as one’s own.

Plagiarism and copyright infringement involves the use of someone’s work or ideas without his or her consent. Many organizations usually apply for copyright-protection to get exclusive rights of using it and earn from it.

This post explains the differences between copyright infringement and plagiarism for better understanding. Take the time to read through the entire article and share with your folks.

Difference between Copyright Infringement and Plagiarism with Table

Basic Terms Copyright Infringement Plagiarism
Definition Unauthorized use, reproduction, or distribution of copyrighted material without permission from the copyright holder. Presenting someone else’s work, ideas, or expressions as your own without proper attribution or permission.
Legal Framework Governed by copyright laws and regulations specific to each country. Typically not subject to copyright law but may have academic or ethical consequences.
Focus Primarily concerns the protection of intellectual property and the rights of creators. Primarily involves issues of academic honesty and ethics.
Scope Covers various forms of creative works, including literary, artistic, musical, and software. Pertains to academic and literary contexts, including research papers, essays, and publications.
Ownership     Infringement involves violation of the copyright holder’s exclusive rights. Plagiarism involves misrepresentation of authorship or source of original work.
Legal Consequences Can lead to legal actions, including lawsuits and monetary damages. Typically results in academic penalties, such as failing grades or loss of credibility.
Attribution Copyright infringement may involve attribution but still constitutes infringement if used without permission. Plagiarism is characterized by the absence of proper attribution.
Examples Using copyrighted images or music without permission in a video, film, or website. Copying and pasting text from a source without citation in an academic paper.
Enforceability Enforced through copyright lawsuits and legal processes. Enforced through academic institutions and plagiarism detection tools.
Prevention and Resolution Licensing and seeking permission from copyright holders can prevent infringement. Proper citation and referencing can prevent plagiarism, and it is often resolved through academic processes.

What Is Copyright Infringement?

Copyright infringement is a legal violation that occurs when someone uses, reproduces, distributes, or displays copyrighted material without obtaining the necessary permissions or licenses from the copyright holder.

Copyright law grants creators and content owners exclusive rights to their original works, which may include literary works, music, art, software, and other intellectual property.

Copyright infringement can take various forms, such as using copyrighted images or music without permission in a commercial project, reproducing portions of a copyrighted book without authorization, or distributing copyrighted software without a valid license.

The consequences of copyright infringement can be significant and may result in legal actions, including lawsuits and monetary damages. Copyright law varies from country to country, but it generally aims to protect the intellectual property of creators and encourage innovation and creativity while allowing for limited fair use or exceptions for purposes like education and criticism.

What Is Plagiarism?

Plagiarism is an ethical and academic violation that occurs when someone presents another person’s ideas, words, or creative work as their own without proper attribution or permission.

It involves copying or closely imitating someone else’s work, whether it’s written text, ideas, images, music, or any other form of intellectual or creative content, and failing to give credit to the original source.

Plagiarism can take various forms, including direct copying of text, paraphrasing without appropriate citation, using someone else’s ideas or concepts without acknowledgment, and even self-plagiarism (submitting one’s own previously published work without disclosure).

The consequences of plagiarism can be severe, particularly in academic and professional settings. It can result in loss of credibility, academic penalties (such as failing grades or expulsion), and damage to one’s reputation.

To avoid plagiarism, individuals are encouraged to properly cite and reference all sources they use in their work, giving credit to the original creators and upholding principles of academic integrity and ethical writing.

Main Difference between Copyright Infringement and Plagiarism

  1. Copyright infringement occurs when copyrighted material is used without the copyright holder’s permission, leading to potential monetary compensation to the holder. Plagiarism, conversely, involves presenting someone else’s ideas or words as one’s own without proper attribution.
  2. Copyright infringement pertains specifically to copyright-protected works, while plagiarism encompasses all types of creative content.
  3. Copyright infringement focuses on permission or the lack thereof, even if the source is referenced. In contrast, proper citation in plagiarism cases prevents the work from being considered plagiarized.
  4. Plagiarism concerns ideas, while copyright infringement deals with the protected expression of those ideas.
  5. Copyright infringement is a legal violation, subject to potential legal action. Plagiarism is primarily an ethical offense and may not lead to litigation.

Similarities between Copyright Infringement and Plagiarism

  1. Both involve unauthorized use of someone else’s intellectual property.
  2. They can result in legal or academic consequences.
  3. Both relate to the improper use of creative or intellectual work.
  4. Both breach ethical and legal standards of ownership and attribution.
  5. They require proper citation and permission to avoid infringement or plagiarism.


The distinction between copyright infringement and plagiarism lies in the nature of the offense and its consequences. Copyright infringement primarily deals with legal violations related to the unauthorized use of copyrighted material, often leading to legal actions and potential monetary penalties.

In contrast, plagiarism is primarily an ethical and academic breach, involving the presentation of someone else’s ideas or work as one’s own, leading to academic penalties and damage to one’s reputation.

While both concepts revolve around the misuse of intellectual property, they differ in their focus and ramifications. Copyright infringement pertains to the violation of exclusive rights and copyright laws, while plagiarism revolves around academic honesty and proper attribution.

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