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Intellectual Property Rights and Plagiarism

Although it is often necessary to use the works and ideas of others when doing research, it is important to understand the principles of intellectual property and plagiarism. There are allowances for using the works of others, but it is important to do so properly to avoid any violations of intellectual property rights. Plagiarism of another’s work, especially in an academic setting, can create many problems including failing grades and possible expulsion.

About Intellectual Property

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Intellectual property refers to a person’s rights to their individual ideas as related to inventions, music, art, applications, written works, and more. These rights are protected through trade secrets, patents, copyrights, design rights, and trademarks. The theory behind intellectual property rights is that people have the right to benefit exclusively from their thoughts and ideas for a period of time. In addition, the theory operates under the belief that people will be less likely to feel motivated to create and design unless there is a financial incentive involved. The hope is that by stimulating the desire to constantly create ind invent, civilizations will experience continued economic growth and development.    


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When someone infringes upon the intellectual property rights of another, he is guilty of plagiarism. Plagiarism is the close imitation, use and publication, or wrongful appropriation of the language, ideas, thoughts, or expressions of another person with the intention of representing them as one’s original work. While plagiarism is considered to be more of a moral issue than a legal one, it is not an offense that goes unpunished, especially in the academic world.

Students, researchers,term paper writers, and professors who are found guilty of plagiarizing the work of others are susceptible to a variety of punishments and consequences that can run the range from a failing grade to permanent expulsion or termination of employment. Many people commit plagiarism unintentionally by simply forgetting to use quotations on excerpts or by forgetting to include a citation for the source material. Unfortunately, even unintentional plagiarism is subject to stiff punishment and often falls under the ignorance does not equal innocence? way of thinking.

Academic institutions each have their own views of what constitutes plagiarism. While the fine print may vary, they all include the fact that using the work of another person without providing proper acknowledgment or credit is plagiarism. Even if the wording is changed, but the ideas are very similar, the work can be considered plagiarized unless the ideas are of such a general nature that they cannot be claimed by anyone.

The ready availability of works on the Internet has created a higher rate of plagiarism among today’s society. Many times, works are plagiarized because it is easier than creating unique work. In the majority of instances, however, the offense can be attributed to a lack of understanding of the principles of intellectual property and plagiarism as well as confusion about acceptable conventions of writing and research. The safest course of action is to cite all sources used and to check one’s work through a plagiarism detector before submitting it.

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