Plagiarism in the Modern Era

In the modern era, with the development of science and technology we encounter many sources for information.

With the unlimited availability of information on the web today, plagiarism has become a growing problem. The abundance of information available makes it easier and increases the temptation to steal other’s ideas. Plagiarism, which is taking credit for someone else’s ideas, is sometimes committed intentionally and other times accidentally. Often, copyrights are violated.


1) Why is plagiarism intellectual property theft?

2) What are the measures to prevent plagiarism?

3) What is the difference between copyright infringement and plagiarism?

4) What will be your suggestions to prevent plagiarism?

5) Write down some famous case laws of plagiarism.


Intellectual property rights have progressed to the point that they now play a significant role in the growth of the global economy. With the advent of high-speed internet and affordable data plans, usage of online platforms to express ideas has gained popularity and we encounter a large number of sources for available information on the internet for free.  Along with this, a large group of audience has access to these ideas or expressions online which poses a risk of violation of the copyright of owners of copyrighted work. This increases the possibility and probability of plagiarism as people are tempted to steal others ideas and get their work done in an easier and faster manner. This may happen intentionally or even accidently and people skip giving credit to the original author for the idea. This creates an issue of copyright infringement as the right of the author of the content is violated.

This paper attempts to highlight a few issues related to plagiarism and its impact on intellectual property and also gives a possible solutions to the issues highlighted.

Keywords: plagiarism, copyright, intellectual property, internet


The consumer base for the internet has grown steadily since the time of its inception, and as a result, it is rare to find a home without some form of Internet access. It is used as a reference tool across all category individuals including children, adults, and elderly. The Web has evolved into a medium of communicating and sharing ideas, thanks to the ever-increasing use of the Internet. Plagiarism has become a growing concern as a result of the abundance of material available on the internet today. Plagiarism: is “the act of stealing another person’s intellectual property (IP) which includes ideas, inventions, original works of authorship, words, slogans, designs, proprietary information, etc. and using them as your own without proper acknowledgement and/or permission of the original author or inventor.”[1] This act shall lead to theft of intellectual property which may have serious legal repercussions.[2]  Plagiarism may not always happen with intent to deceive someone, but the people who deliberately misguide others by taking other persons’ ideas should consider the gravity of their conduct and the potential penalties if detected. Anyone who is found to be guilty of copying someone else’s idea but having done so accidently as a result of misinformation of unawareness of their conduct should reconsider their action in order to prevent it from happening again in the future. Since, information is readily available on the internet and it is exceedingly easy to steal someone else’s ideas without providing proper citation or skipping to give due credit to the owner. Therefore, it becomes important for people to be thoughtful when taking an idea from the internet and usage of correct citation to avoid any copyright problems becomes important.

Laws relating to plagiarism in India:

In India, no statute recognizes the right not to be plagiarised, although section 57 of the Indian Copyright Act, 1957 allows authors the right to claim authorship of their works, among other things. This section 57, allows authors the “special right” to be credited for their work. It is a natural right and a moral right. The right to attribution is recognized in the statute, and it is equivalent to the right not to be plagiarised. Infringement is considered a criminal offence under Section 63 of the Indian Copyright Act, 1957, and both the breach of section 57 and the copyright infringement receive the same punishment. Under section 63 of the Act, convicted infringers are sentenced to prison terms ranging from six months to three years. They have also compensated for the infringement in monetary terms.[3]

In everyday life, the term “plagiarism” is widely misinterpreted and misused. In simpler terms, it refers to the act of secretly duplicating or replicating another’s work, usually without the permission of the author of the original work. It is frequently used interchangeably with the term “copyright infringement,” and it is widely assumed to mean the same thing. However, it is not the case. Though copyright infringement and plagiarism have common elements they serve different purposes. Plagiarism is a wider concept and hence covers copyright infringement to be a sub-part of it.

Copyright is a legal term that refers to the protection of works that contain intellectual output. The piece of work must have a physical form. The material expression of intellectual activity, not the ideas, information, or other things included in the temporal material expression, is the subject matter of copyright. Copyright has legal backing under the Copyright Act, 1957.  When a major part of any work in of it is reproduced, adapted, or performed in any other way without the copyright owner’s permission, it results in copyright infringement. In some cases, there exist certain exceptions to copyright infringement that allow for unauthorized copying. This is when the copied content is for strict personal use.

Plagiarism is a violation of an ethical principle. It is not a rule of law in and of itself. Plagiarism is unethical, but it does not constitute illegal behaviour in and of itself. Plagiarism is a guideline that is especially prevalent in the academic setting. Someone who plagiarises is considered as dishonest and ought to be exposed and reprimanded by society; it is a stain on his or her reputation.[4] Plagiarism happens when a person makes a public misrepresentation about the authorship of an output created by him or her; that person claims to be the original creator of the copied output. The accreditation of source in favour of the original author of the product is the antidote to plagiarism. Even if the original author of the output agrees to a copyist using it, the plagiarism rule is broken when intellectual output is copied in any way or form. The approval of the original author is irrelevant as long as the copyist erroneously represents his or her own authorship and does not accredit source in the original author.

A classic case of copyright infringement in, say, a literary work involves someone duplicating a significant portion of that work without the permission of the copyright owner and without the author’s acknowledgement. There would be no copyright infringement if, for example, the source work does not have copyright because the term has ended or it does not exist in a tangible form, but there might still be plagiarism. In contrast, no plagiarism would be committed if the copyist reproduced an excessively large portion of the copyrighted literary work and credited the copyright owner as the author of the copied passage, but there would be copyright infringement if the copyright owner had not granted permission for the use of the copied part.

Summarising the above differences, copyright infringement is the unlawful duplication of work that violates the exclusive rights of the copyright owner whereas plagiarism implies the presentation of someone else’s thoughts ideas or expression as your own, without providing attribution to the actual creator of the work. The subject matter of copyright is copyright protected works while that of plagiarism is any kind of creative work. The issue that arises in case of copyright infringement is when material is used without permission and in plagiarism when the material is taken without providing credit. And lastly, copyright infringement is a civil wrong whereas plagiarism is an ethical wrong.[5]


People must be cautious and vigilant when borrowing someone else’s ideas and ensure that proper reference is used to avoid plagiarism. Those who are guilty of plagiarism on purpose should consider the gravity of their conduct and the potential consequences. To prevent plagiarism proper guidelines must be laid down by the instructor and the researchers must be made aware of the consequences of such actions. Clear and precise rules must be explained to all researchers and the moral ethics of not stealing others ideas and works must be inculcated. It is the responsibility of the instructor to educate the writers about the cons of copying alongside teaching correct and accepted way of citing sources and benefits thereof. Along with this, instructors must lay down penalties for this crime which shall dissuade anybody from committing such acts.[6]


In order to avoid plagiarism one must do his/her work keeping a track of any sources being referred to or being consulted in the research. Adding one’s own original thoughts or ideas to quotes copied from sources would be a beneficial practice. Usage of a plagiarism checker available online and most importantly, giving due credit to the original author in the footnotes and reference list is a must. One must also be well versed with the proper and updated citations, referencing, paraphrasing, quotation techniques available and make a note of all sources that have been referred to. Also, unnecessary quoting of obvious and well known facts can be avoided.


Plagiarism is not a crime per se but is disapproved more on the grounds of moral offence. It is not the part of the Indian Penal Code. A few cases related to plagiarism have been discussed below.

  • On December 1, 2015, the Spicy IP blog brought a sensational plagiarism charge in the Divisional Bench of the Delhi High Court. Thirty-three paragraphs of the Delhi High Court’s verdict in the Roche V. Cipla case were plagiarised from a law review paper by SwetashreeMajumdar and EashanGhosh published in the Queen Mary Journal of Intellectual Property. Consequently, the Delhi High Court accepted the accuracy of the plagiarism allegation and apologised to the author.[7]
  • Dr.Mahadevaiah v the Registrar Mysore University[8]

In this case a person presented a thesis for getting awarded a Ph.D. One Mr.Thangamutthu alleged plagiarism in the University Journal. The Court pronouncing appropriate guidelines for the University to follow while examining thesis stated that, “Plagiarism in short means theft of some ones creativity, idea language and it is a form of cheating. In academic circles it is considered as dishonesty and academic fraud. It is morally and ethically unacceptable. It shows lack of character,”

  • Shri P M Parameshwaramurthy v State Of Karnataka[9]

In this case, serious allegations were made in respect of plagiarism in the thesis submitted by petitioner. Where an expert committee was formed subsequently to inquire into the matter it so suggested to have found ample evidence of plagiarism.  The court in the present case defined plagiarism as, “It is the theft of someone’s creativity, ideas or language, something that strikes at the very heart of academic life. It is the form of cheating and is generally regarded as being morally and ethically unacceptable. Plagiarism includes reproducing someone else’s work, whether it be a published article, chapter of a book, a paper from a friend or some file, or whatever” and subsequently held on “detailed examination of the entire evidence on record that the claim of plagiarism and ghost writing levelled against petitioner are fully proved.”


Though the internet and social media has provided a big platform for new artists, creators, writers and small-scale artistic businesses, it has also posed challenges to protection of original work of people. The larger the audience on internet, the greater is the chance of people stealing the idea of others. The already existing laws aren’t able to keep a check on violators of IP laws. There is a need for bringing in stringent laws relating to plagiarism in India. Moreover, there is lack of enforcement of already existing laws. Internet Service Providers are also not keeping a check on rogue websites that duplicate copyrighted content unlawfully. Thus, it is evident that more stringent laws are needed to tackle the problem of plagiarism in this digital era. 


[1]Teacher, Law. (November 2013). Intellectual Property Rights and Plagiarism. Retrieved from

[2] Lynch, Jack (2002) The Perfectly Acceptable Practice of Literary Theft: Plagiarism, Copyright, and the Eighteenth Century, in Colonial Williamsburg: The Journal of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation 24, no. 4 (Winter 2002–3), pp. 51–54. Also available online since 2006 at Writing World.

[3]Pandey A. Laws Relating to Plagiarism in India; 11 June. 2017.

[4] Murray, L. (2008). Plagiarism and Copyright Infringement: The Costs of Confusion. In Eisner C. &Vicinus M. (Eds.), Originality, Imitation, and Plagiarism: Teaching Writing in the Digital Age (pp. 173-182). Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. doi:10.2307/j.ctv65sxk1.18

[5]Surabhi S, (March 2020). Difference Between Copyright Infringement and Plagiarism , Retrieved from

[6]Roberts, T. (2007).Student Plagiarism and the Internet. Educational Technology, 47(2), 45-47. Retrieved July 19, 2021, from

[7] Thomas J. Vallianeth, (December 2015) Retrieved from:

[8] WP 22805 (2017)

[9] WP 4340/2012

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