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Copyrights and Plagiarism



In our digital world, it is important to be able to protect our own work as well as use others' copyrighted work without permission.  Students are accessing large amounts of information, reworking it, and sharing it with others not only in the classroom but also around the world.  Because it is getting easier to find, copy and distribute content, we need to make sure students understand how to use copyrighted materials in the correct way.


A copyright is a law that protects the creator's ownership of and control over the work he/she creates.

Common Sense Media - Copyright and Fair Use Animation

If you want to use something that is copyrighted you must:

  • Check to see who owns it
  • Get permission to use it
  • Give credit to the creator
  • Buy it (when necessary)
  • Use it responsibly

When using work for educational purposes, for news or to critique/comment, this may fall under fair use.  Fair use allows you to use small parts of work for these purposes without permission, but you should still follow these guidelines:

  • Use only small amounts of the work
  • Add new meaning to the work and make it original
  • Rework it and use it in a totally different way
  • Use it for non-profit purposes

A creative commons license allows work to be used for free as long as you give credit to the creator.


Copying and presenting another person's work as your own is illegal and considered plagiarism.

WriteCheckVideos - Plagiarism

All of the following fall under the topic of plagiarism:

  • Handing in some else's work as your own
  • Copying words or ideas from someone else without giving them credit
  • Failing to put a direct quote in "quotation marks"
  • Changing a few words but using the same sentence structure without credit
  • Copying so many words from a source that makes up a majority of your work, whether it is cited or not
  • Taking written content from one language and translating to another (Google Translate or other tools) without citation - Translation Plagiarism 

How to protect yourself from plagiarism:

  • Consult with your teacher if you have any questions
  • Take effective notes about where you are gathering information
  • When in doubt, cite your source (text AND images need to be cited)
  • Understand how to paraphrase (write it in your own words)
  • Be sure to determine credibility of information before gathering and citing
For questions about this information, contact Chad Kliefoth (608) 267-9289, Janice Mertes (608) 267-1054