One of the most frequent misunderstandings I encounter when I talk to students about plagiarism is that they think “plagiarism is the same as copyright infringement.”  Same as in “it is a legal issue” rather than an “ethical issue” or a “scholarly communication issue. ”  Same as in  “if it doesn’t have a copyright logo on it, like NBC or Elsiver — or if it isn’t on TV or in print,” it isn’t really “published.” So, they think, freely borrowing the material isn’t a problem…whatever comes from the web or from a friend’s paper isn’t citation-worthy.   Although we do talk about citation-trails in scholarly communication and talk a little about how/when something is copyrighted  (i.e. once a paper/poem/ assignment is in material or computer-readable format, it is automatically copyrighted) , trying to get across the overlaps and distinctions between plagiarism and copyright infringement can be a little tricky.  I am a fan of Venn diagrams, so I use the diagram below, and ask students to come up with examples for each part, and then ask them where a few “case studies” would fall.  For example: One can plagiarize a friend’s idea or a methodological approach without commiting copyright infringement.   One can give the full citation for a copyrighted piece of music, but, lacking permissions, can still be guilty of infringement.

* While there maybe some cases where using the copyrighted materials of others doesn’t infringe —  say, in  a comedy sketch or for  a classroom demo — sometimes publishing a class project on a blog or slideshare can blur the line.  (**Note to hybrid and distance learning faculty:  A student  and the “responsible faculty member” can be guilty of “contributory infringement” by allowing a course page to host a re/posting of  a YouTube clip that one has reason to believe was not uploaded by the original artist)

Best bets in class:  for images:   use “creative commons” materials in ;  for music be sure to get permissions or use “podsafe music” and abide by artists requests. Sources of podsafe music include: and,  For Videos: look at the “more” section in a video platform to learn about the poster and gain an idea whether the poster has original rights ,  and above all — cite sources ethically.