Plagiarism means copying or stealing another person’s idea, words, expressions, illustrations, tables, figures, thoughts without their consent and acknowledging them for using their work.
In this age of information, plagiarism is very common among the students, sometimes it is intentional, but most of the time it is by accident or done unconsciously and due to lack of knowledge about plagiarism. The word ‘plagiarism’ comes from a Latin word ‘plagiare’ which means “to kidnap”.[i] It is an intellectual theft which is punishable under Copyright Act, 1957. Plagiarism is accepted by UGC India up to 10% of the thesis or article or book or any other document, it is punishable only when it passes the minimum acceptable percentage.
Types of Plagiarism:
There are different types of plagiarism, they are :
- The Potluck Paper :- This is a type where the author gathers information from various different sources and transforms it as his own work, where the difference is very minimal.
- The Photocopy :- In this type a part of any thesis, article or any other document would be taken without making any changes.
- The Self- Stealer :- This is not regarded as stealing per se or is punishable because an author using his own work in some other place is not deemed to be wrong.
- The Ghost Writer :- This the highest form of plagiarism where the whole work of another is copied exactly and claimed to be his own.[ii]
Laws relating to Plagiarism:
There is no particular statute which deals with plagiarism, but under Section 57 of Copyright Act, 1957, an author has a special right to claim for acknowledgment, authorship or damages, if his work is used somewhere else without his consent.
Under Section 63 of the Act, the court can award the same level of punishment as of for copyright infringement for violation of Section 57. Which may amount to imprisonment for 6 months but not more than 3 years and compensation in the form of fine of fifty thousand but not more than two lakh rupees.
And Under 63A the enhanced penalties for second and subsequent convictions are provided. Which shall be an imprisonment for minimum 1 year and maximum 3 years and fine of minimum 1 lakh to maximum of 2 lakh rupees.[iii]
Why Plagiarism is Unethical:
There are three reasons why plagiarism is unethical :-
- Firstly, because it amounts to theft.
- Secondly, because the plagiarizer benefits from such theft.
- And thirdly, because a person shall not be employed on the basis of a degree obtained by cheating, as it would put others at risk.[iv]
Because using some other person’s work as their own amounts to fraud, and when such act is performed dishonestly, it amounts to cheating.[v]
The punishment differs for different amount of plagiarism as defined by UGC India under the new policy :-
- “Up to 10%”, no penalty.
- “10% to 40%”, students need to submit a revised manuscript and the faculty personnel must withdraw the plagiarized paper.
- “40% to 60%”, the student shall be suspended for 1 year, the annual pay raise for the faculty personnel shall be withdrawn and also shall not be allowed to supervise the students for 2 years.
- “More than 60%”, the student will be expelled from the college, for the faculty personnel the annual pay raise shall be withdrawn for 2 years and shall not be allowed to supervise the students for 3 years.[vi]
“Paraphrasing is making significant changes in the style and voice of the original while retaining the essential ideas”.[vii] Paraphrasing amounts to plagiarism when the original statement is identifiable even after making the changes and is not acknowledged. Thus, when paraphrasing is done it is necessary to cite, who’s source has been used, to avoid plagiarism. Students must observe academic codes of ethics to avoid all forms of plagiarism. Merely incorporating the ideas which another writer has expressed without accrediting to that writer constitutes plagiarism.[viii]
Cases and illustration:
In a case, the petitioner had applied for a Ph.D programme, in furtherance of which he had submitted a thesis. A complaint was made to the university that the thesis is copied from the thesis of Mr.Nashirkar, and alleged to have committed plagiarism. Mr.Nashirkar was made to submit his thesis and a 6 member committee found that few parts of his thesis was copied by the petitioner. The petitioner was debarred from Ph.D programme for 5 years, and the guide of the petitioner was restrained from acting as a guide in the future by an order of the court. When the case came before the Bombay High Court, it held that the decision of the committee was not wrong and it has no jurisdiction to sit in appeal over the decision of the committee.[ix]
It can be concluded with the above information that, plagiarism is an unethical conduct and not a crime, which attracts the same punishment of copyright infringement under Copyright Act, 1957. Due to increase in rate of plagiarism among students of various universities the development of effective academic skills has deteriorated excessively. To reduce the increasing rate of plagiarism, it is extremely important to make the students aware about What constitutes plagiarism?, Consequences of plagiarism, and How to avoid plagiarism?. Because ordinarily, lack of knowledge among the students is the main reason for plagiarism.
Edited by Pragash Boopal
Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje
[i] Legal Service India, Plagiarism in India, http://www.legalserviceindia.com/article/l222-Plagiarism.html
[vi] Science mag, India creates unique tiered system to punish plagiarism, https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/04/india-creates-unique-tiered-system-punish-plagiarism
[vii] Legal Service India, Plagiarism in India, http://www.legalserviceindia.com/article/l222-Plagiarism.html
[ix] Anil Rangnath Bankar & Anr. v. State of Maharashtra & Anr., 2015 SCC OnLine Bom 137.