What Are the Consequences of Plagiarism and How Does It Affect My Work?
When we paraphrase what another person has written, if it is not done correctly, i.e. wording completely changed to express the same information and a proper citation added, we run the risk of being accused of plagiarism. Within academia, this may also be branded as academic theft but the repercussions are no less severe than say trying to pass a song off as your own. So what are the consequences of plagiarism? At the school level, they vary from one to the next. At best you can expect having to redo the work, at worst it could mean expulsion so it’s better to not be in a situation where there can be any accusations made against you by using a service like ours which helps rephrase sentences online for you.
An online based anti-plagiarism company Turnitin found that over 50% of papers presented by college students had copied material included in them from Internet sources such as Wikipedia or other well-known libraries but more students get away with it because of a sheer lack of methods in place to verify the content. However, if like these students you are ever tempted to copy, pleading ignorance of understanding what counts as plagiarism is not a defense that you can use if you are caught.
Reasons Why You Should Not Plagiarize
While you may think that any penalties leveled against you for acts of academic dishonesty while at school don’t seem that severe, just think about the reaction of your family and friends when they find out you have been cheating. Ok so having to rewrite an essay doesn’t seem so bad but continued offenses will lead to eventual expulsion which will make getting into another college almost impossible. Let’s take a moment to go over what are the consequences of plagiarism for all professions just to put it into perspective:
- At a professional level – loss of image, job, income, potential family problems as a result and a reputation that will stay with you for many years making it difficult to find work in the same profession.
Now let’s take a look at what it can cost you from the legal standpoint for intentional plagiarism or copyright breach according to the U.S. copyright law:
- An injunction taken out against you which takes away all material for destruction
- Recovery of any profits made and damages
- Monetary damages – Statutory damages (alternative to profits or actual damages) from $750 to $30,000 unless a case of willful infringement is proved which is then raised to $150,000. If sued for damages and taken to court, there is no upper limit
- Cost of legal proceedings
- For a first offense, a fine can be imposed of $500,000 or 5 years in prison or both
- For repeated offenses, a fine of $1,000,000 or 10 years in prison or both
A Famous Case of What Happens When You Plagiarize Someone Else’s Material
As we discussed earlier, there are some consequences of stealing another person’s intellectual property and this isn’t necessarily the sole area of academia. There are many industries where plagiarism exists that have much more serious ramifications than being just thrown out of school. Johnny Cash, the world-renowned singer found out about the consequences of plagiarism the hard way:
The song ‘Folsom Prison Blues’ was recorded by Cash in 1955 and tells the tale of a convicted murderer being tortured by the sound of a passing train as it goes past the prison he is locked up in. The song was released that year and again after he performed it live at the prison in 1968.
In 1953 however, Gordon Jenkins recorded the song ‘Crescent City Blues’, a tale of how a narrator was stuck in a small township in the Midwest and was desperate to get out. While the lyrics were changed somewhat to make it more about imprisonment and regret, there were still too many similarities between them.
The resulting lawsuit which was settled rather rapidly was said to have cost Johnny Cash $75,000 back then, the equivalent of $660,000 in today’s money.
What to Do If Accused of Plagiarism by Your Teacher
If you have intentionally committed an act of plagiarism by deliberately trying to pass someone else’s work off as your own then the only thing you can do is to own up to your mistake and accept whatever punishment comes your way. As for ghostwritten content, while this does not fall into the plagiarism category because it is work paid for and commissioned by you making you the copyright holder, it is still classed as academic dishonesty and most higher education institutions now have an honor code in place which forbids works of this nature.
If on the other hand, it was an unintentional act of plagiarism where you simply forgot to include quotation marks or the correct citation. You will still have to face an awkward interview but as long as you have kept your notes, you will be able to prove it was a simple error and will most likely have no further action taken. How do you avoid plagiarism charges in the first place? Don’t cheat, check and then double check your work at all times until you are absolutely sure there is nothing that can land you in trouble.