Ruby’s Tips for Newbies: What’s the Big Deal About Plagiarism?

Plagiarism is one of those words that triggers a strongly negative reaction for social bloggers. Plagiarists have been a significant problem on some social writing sites. In fact, some people feel that certain writing sites failed mostly because of rampant plagiarism and spam.

What is Plagiarism

Plagiarism is a form of dishonesty. It is claiming someone else’s work as your own. Plagiarism is not a legal matter, but it is a matter of academic and professional integrity. Putting one’s own name to something written by another is a form of fraud. It can result in the loss of a job, expulsion from university, or removal from a writing site.

A more particular kind of plagiarism, self-plagiarism, is passing off one’s own past work as an original composition. Submitting previously written content for school or work is a lie. It is dishonest. It cheats one’s peers, who have done new work. And especially when the content is published online, it can hurt not only the author’s reputation, but that of an employer or writing site. You should never submit previously published or graded work without prior consent. And you should always be honest about content that contains or consists mainly of work you did at an earlier date.

Is Plagiarism a Legal Matter?

Not directly, no. To my knowledge, there aren’t any laws that forbid plagiarism. The bigger issue with plagiarized content is that it usually comes from a published source. And that source is probably subject to copyright.

So the legal issue is copyright infringement. And it’s not only a violation of rights, but it’s a kind of theft.

Is it OK to Copy if I Cite the Source?

In most cases, no. You may not, for example, use an artist’s copyrighted graphic or a photo from a news story that was published online. Not even if you’ve seen that same photo on a dozen other pages!

Copyright is exactly what it sounds like: the right to determine who can and cannot make or distribute copies of one’s work, and under what conditions. Unless you have a specific permission or license to use the work, it’s off limits. You can’t include an artist’s photo in your article, nor can you use a large portion of a writer’s text in your own. Not without permission.

What About Fair Use?

Fair use exceptions generally apply to excerpts or snippets of the original work. You cannot duplicate a significant portion of the work, let alone all of it, without permission. And since a photo is a complete work, you can’t use a copyrighted photo or a significant portion of it without permission. Not even if you cite the source.

Always be sure that your articles are your own original work and that you keep any quotes down to a sentence or two, with a proper reference. Never use an artist’s image without permission or a license. And if you obtain a license through a stock image site, be sure you are following the requirements of the license as closely as possible.

If you see an article on BlogBourne that contains either plagiarized content or some form of copyright infringement, please use the “Report Article” button to bring it to the attention of the admin. Plagiarism and copyright violations hurt us all, so it’s up to all of us to help stop the people who commit these acts.


Blogging basics: how to avoid plagiarism and copyright infringement | #copyright #plagiarism

Copyright infringement and plagiarism are often confused. Do you know the difference?
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Original content © 2016 Kyla Matton Osborne

This article was published on BlogBourne. If you are reading this content anywhere else, it has probably been stolen. Please report it to me so I can address any copyright infringements. Thank you!


  1. John

    Kudos, Kyla!

    This is article is GOLD!

    I’m waiting for SEO and Keywords, Kyla. Maybe you can help newbies to somehow put finesse on their blog.

    1. Kyla Matton Osborne Post author

      Funny you should mention it, john, because how to choose keywords is one of the next topics I want to cover 🙂

    1. Kyla Matton Osborne Post author

      Copyright and plagiarism are both issues that even longtime writers often fail to understand. I’ll be revisiting this topic again in the future to elaborate on things like content spinning and paraphrasing, and probably how to cite sources for images too.

  2. Vinaya

    It hurts when your work is stolen. You are not just losing your money but also your pride. Plagiarism is a serious issue.

    1. Kyla Matton Osborne Post author

      It is hurtful when your work is taken by someone without permission. It’s so important to ask for permission if we copy and to be sure you are following the licensing requirements when you do have permission.


    can plagiarism be considered as a unique art. an art of its own. it involves some level of professionalism, to steal a person work and still claim its yours. moreover, it does require enough courage to steal and claim a person’s work to be yours.
    flipping a coin, its very unfair and unkind. its cruel.
    we should avoid any form of plagiarism.

    1. Kyla Matton Osborne Post author

      Actually, I think most cases of plagiarism are due to ignorance. If you think that ignorance can be elevated to the level of an art, then I suppose the same can be said of plagiarism. But that would be a bit like saying it’s an art to step in dog poop on the sidewalk.

      As for those who have what you call “courage,” most of those are outright thieves who are cunning enough to hide their identities very well. They make a full-time business of running scraper blogs and re-posting other people’s content to unsuspecting writing sites. There is no courage at all involved in this kind of trickery and theft. They are infringing on others’ copyrights and misusing the resources of web hosts and writing platforms. These people are leeches who make a business out of stealing, lying, and cheating. It’s not a profession, nor is it in any way honourable.

  4. Joan Adams

    Plagiarism is simply stealing – and I am constantly surprised at the number of writers on line who have never been taught that simple rule.

    1. Kyla Matton Osborne Post author

      Actually, plagiarism is not necessarily stealing. Many writers don’t understand that. It’s fraud.

      Copyright infringement is theft. And sometimes when someone plagiarizes, they are also infringing on someone’s copyright. It’s important to understand the difference, as well as to avoid the acts themselves.

    1. Kyla Matton Osborne Post author

      Believe me pat, it’s of great concern to the admin at BlogBourne to guard against both plagiarism and copyright infringement. Both acts drag down the reputation of a site, and they lower its ranking with the search engines. Because BlogBourne is based on a 50% revenue sharing model, any incidence of plagiarism, duplicate content, or even just very poor writing harms us all. It’s in our best interests to perfect our own writing and to encourage good writing from others. It’s also in our best interests to report infringements and unintelligible posts. We’ll even earn a bonus for it!

    1. Kyla Matton Osborne Post author

      That’s a tough question, Meshack. I’m sure there are a lot of motivating factors for those who know they are plagiarizing. I think mostly, it’s just a crime of opportunity (so to speak.) People take the content because they need money. And because it all happens online, maybe it doesn’t feel like they’re committing fraud or theft….

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