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Copyright Resources to Support Publishing and Teaching

A guide for faculty, staff, and students at Penn about how to obtain, manage, and understand copyright issues for their work

What is plagiarism, and how is it different from copyright infringement?

  • Plagiarism is a form of academic misconduct that occurs when you represent the work and/or ideas of another person as your own, original work.
  • Copyright infringement is the unlawful use of work that is subject to copyright protection in a way that violates the exclusive rights of the copyright holder.
  • Even if a work is properly cited and credited to the original author, it can still rise to the level of copyright infringement if your use is not a fair use, or you do not have the permission of the rights-holder to use the work.
  • Plagiarism and copyright infringement can overlap, for example reproducing large passages of texts, verbatim, from an in-copyright work without crediting your original source, can constitute both copyright infringement and plagiarism. 

How can I check for plagarism in student work?

The Libraries provide faculty with access to the TurnItIn or iThenticate plagiarism prevention service through Canvas.  Explanations of how this tool works and how to utilize it can be found online within the Penn Canvas Information website.

Common misconceptions about detecting plagiarism:

  • Online distribution of materials in itself is not necessarily plagiarism
  • Online distribution of content does not necessarily contribute to plagiarism
  • Rather, online distribution helps to prevent plagiarism by making it easier to detect when someone does not attribute ideas
  • By putting materials online (and searchable) plagiarism detection software can more easily detect theft

Need help?

For further assistance with copyright issues, you can begin with your subject specialist.

For questions about use of materials on reserve, contact Van Pelt Reserves or the librarian at your reserve location.



The purpose of this guide is to provide resources and information for resolving copyright questions. This research guide is for educational purposes only, and is not legal advice.


  • Anytime you rely on a source for an idea, that source should be attributed to the original author
  • Changing a word or two in a sentence does not avert the need to cite the work of the original author
  • If a source is copied without proper attribution, it is considered plagiarism
  • When incorporating the in-copyright work of another into your own work, consider whether the use you are making is a Fair Use, or whether it is necessary to seek further permission from the rights-holder to use the work
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