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Plagiarism and Copyright

Seminole State College libraries make every effort to assure the accuracy of this information but do not offer it as counsel or legal advice. Consult an attorney for advice concerning your specific situation. The views and opinions expressed in these pages are strictly those of the page authors. Any comments on the content of these pages should be directed to the author/contact related to the Web page cited.

So, what's all the hype about plagiarism?

Simply put, it's stealing. Just like theft in the everyday world, it is a punishable offense in the academic world. It isn't necessarily intentional, and often done without realizing the implication. Not knowing does not excuse it. Part of the academic experience is to learn about the ethical, legal and moral aspects connected with education, known as Academic Integrity, and then to carry that knowledge into the lifelong experience. Learning how to do research, knowing when it's necessary to give others credit for their work and citing sources properly is an important part of the education process. Those are some of the reasons for stressing plagiarism awareness. It's important to take it seriously, and we're here to help you get it right.

Patricia DeSalvo, Dean of Libraries and Learning Technology

Academic Integrity and Behavior in the Learning Environment (i.e. classrooms, tutoring and testing centers, co-op and internship assignments, etc.):

As members of the College community, students are expected to be honest in all of their academic coursework and activities. Academic dishonesty, such as cheating on examinations, course assignments or projects, plagiarism, misrepresentation and the unauthorized possession of examination or course-related materials, is prohibited.
Plagiarism is unacceptable to the College community. Academic work that is submitted by students is assumed to be the result of their own thought, research or self-expression. When students borrow ideas, wording or organization from another source, they are expected to acknowledge that fact in an appropriate manner. 


It is the student's responsibility to abide by all copyright laws and regulations, which are available at The copyright protections normally associated with print also govern the use of audio, video, images and text on the Internet and Web. Because it is easy for the computer user to copy and use images, text, video and other graphics that are likely to be protected by copyright, it is essential to become familiar with copyright basics. A document may be copyrighted even if it does not explicitly state that it is copyrighted. As a result, it is best to assume materials such as documents, images or video clips are copyrighted. Ask permission and state a source when using other's materials.

Outcome No. 4 is Information Literacy. The effective use of information standard presented by the Association for College and Research Libraries states that “an information literate individual is able to ... recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate and use effectively the needed information” (ACRL, 2010, para. 2).

Test your knowledge of plagiarism

Go through this quick five-question Q & A regarding plagiarism. See the answers to common assumptions about copyright and plagiarism.


  • UMUC - How to avoid plagiarism produced by the University of Maryland University Center Online Writing Center; site helps with using source material, techniques for managing it and ways to avoid plagiarism
  • Tutorial - Rutger's University, animated classroom tutorial in plagiarism modules
  • Diagnosis Plagiarism - Yavapai College produced a medical spoof that gets to the guts of plagiarism; giving credit where credit is due
  • Stealing ideas - YouTube video, developed by Penn State University; two college guys on stealing ideas and getting it straight

Definitions of plagiarism:

Two main sources of reference for documentation in research are theMLA Handbookand the APA Manual. More information is available on what MLA and APA define as plagiarism, and ways to avoid plagiarism. MLA states, “In short, to plagiarize is to give the impression that you have written or thought something that you have in fact borrowed from someone else.” ...more


Plagiarism and Cyber-plagiarism - become familiar with the do's and don'ts of plagiarism

Public Domain and Creative Commons Images

There are many places to find items in public domain that can be used legitimately. Doing a Web search for "public domain content" or "public domain images" will provide you with many options. Always check to see what is required for their use. Giving credit to the developer or site URL may be sufficient. Don't overlook giving credit for use of other's materials, and following any guidelines that have been established.

This public domain list may be a good start for you. It was created by a librarian on our staff.

What is the definition of an Information Literate (IL) student?

In the guidelines and standards established by the Association of College and Research Libraries, ACRL, Information literacy is defined as a set of abilities requiring individuals to "recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information." 1 Information literacy also is increasingly important in the contemporary environment of rapid technological change and proliferating information resources. Because of the escalating complexity of this environment, individuals are faced with diverse, abundant information choices--in their academic studies, in the workplace, and in their personal lives. Information is available through libraries, community resources, special interest organizations, media and the Internet--and increasingly, information comes to individuals in unfiltered formats, raising questions about its authenticity, validity and reliability. In addition, information is available through multiple media, including graphical, aural and textual, and these pose new challenges for individuals in evaluating and understanding it. More at...

    Helpful Resources:

    • The Seminole State English Department faculty developed exercises to help students learn to assess plagiarism and end the confusion. It's found on their homepage in the left column as plagiarism activity.
    • Paraphrasing and Summarizing
    • Suggestions for Note-Taking -  taken from Fairfield University's Dimenna Nysellius Library "Note Taking Tips"
    • Plagiarism -  A current issue and resource website from the Center for Intellectual Property, University of Maryland University College (UMUC) that focuses on issues such as detection and prevention. Includes Web and print resources.
    • Understanding Plagiarism - Georgetown University website with good explanations of various aspects of plagiarism and examples
    • Student Writing Resources - University of Miami, avoiding plagiarism helpful tools compilation from other sites
    • Fair Use for Students - University of Minnesota discusses some uses by students are permissible, particularly for education
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