Plagiarism is a complex and emotive issue, as previous
on the subject have shown
. Perhaps because of that complexity, people often seem confused about the difference between plagiarism and copyright infringement. The palaeontologist Mike Taylor has put together a short post with this handy explanation of how it works in an academic context
First, plagiarism is a violation of academic norms but not illegal; copyright violation second is illegal, but in truth pretty ubiquitous in academia. (Where did you get that PDF?)
Second, plagiarism is an offence against the author, while copyright violation is an offence against the copyright holder. In traditional academic publishing, they are usually not the same person, due to the ubiquity of copyright transfer agreements (CTAs).
Third, plagiarism applies when ideas are copied, whereas copyright violation occurs only when a specific fixed expression (e.g. sequence of words) is copied.
Fourth, avoiding plagiarism is about properly apportioning intellectual credit, whereas copyright is about maintaining revenue streams.
The post goes on to present some hypothetical cases that illustrate the concrete differences between plagiarism and copyright infringement, again as far as the academic world is concerned. There's also this handy summary of the central issue:
Plagiarism is about the failure to properly attribute the authorship of copied material (whether copies of ideas or of text or images). Copyright violation is about failure to pay for the use of the material.
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