Copyright & Plagiarism

Be sure to accurately cite your sources to avoid plagiarism. Plagiarism involves the use of other's ideas or writing as one's own.

What is copyright?

Copyright is the legal right (usually of the author or composer or publisher of a work) to exclusive publication production, sale, or distribution of some work. What is protected by the copyright is the “expression,” not the idea. Taking another’s idea is plagiarism.

Anytime you copy something, you must cite your sources. Your teacher will let you know whether to use MLA or APA style for citations. But you are also limited in how much you can copy without breaking copyright law:

Used with permission from the Crescent Valley High School Library

Motion MediaUp to 10% or 3 minutes, whichever is less, of a single copyrighted motion media work.
TextUp to 10% or 1000 words, whichever is less, of a single copyrighted work.
PoemsAn entire poem of less than 250 words: no more than three poems by one poet, or five poems by different poets from a single anthology. In poems of greater length: up to 250 words but no more than three excerpts by a single poet or five excerpts by different poets from a single anthology.
Music, Lyrics, and Music VideoUp to 10%, but not more than 30 seconds of music and lyrics from an individual musical work; Any alterations to a musical work shall not change the basic melody or the fundamental character of the work.
Illustrations and PhotographsA photograph or illustration may be used in its entirety. No more than 5 images by an artist or photographer. Not more than 10% or 15 images, whichever is less, from a single published collected work.
Numerical Data Sets (spread sheets/databases)Up to 10% or 2500 fields or cell entries, whichever is less, from a copyrighted database or data table; A field entry is defined as a specific item of information, such as a name or Social Security number, in a record of a database file. A cell entry is defined as the intersection where a row and a column meet on a spreadsheet.
Copying and Distribution LimitationsOnly a limited number of copies, including the original, may be made of an educator’s educational multimedia project. No more than two use copies only one of which may be placed on reserve; an additional copy may be made for preservation purposes but may only be used or copied to replace a use copy that has been lost, stolen, or damaged; in the case of a jointly created educational multimedia project, each principal creator may retain one copy following the time and use restraints listed above.

What is Plagiarism?

Plagiarism involves the use of another’s ideas or writing as one’s own. Examples include:

  • Downloading an entire paper off the Internet and turning it in as one’s original work.
  • Downloading paragraphs or groups of sentences from texts online and turning them in as original work.
  • Reformatting an online text and turning it in as original work.
  • Copying a print text or another student’s work and turning it in as one’s own work.
  • Copying groups of sentences or paragraphs from a print text and turning them in as one’s own work.
  • Knowingly passing off someone else’s original idea(s) as one’s own work.

Used with permission from Crescent Valley High School