By Charlotte Cheek

Plagiarism goes beyond just copying someone else’s words in writing and calling them your own. Plagiarism is the act of stealing someone else’s ideas, written or spoken word, or artistic expression and not giving credit where it is due. Plagiarizing is not just something to worry about for professional writers, academics, or students. The business world must be aware of the types of plagiarism, the laws surrounding it, and the consequences.[1]


Officially there are five types of plagiarism: verbatim, mosaic, inadequate paraphrase, uncited paraphrase, and uncited quotations. All of these go beyond academic writing and can be applied to verbal plagiarism. First, verbatim is self-explanatory, copying words from a source word for word and not siting the source of those words, consequently giving yourself credit for something you did not think up. Mosaic plagiarism is “copy[ing] bits and pieces from a source (or several sources), changing a few words here and there without…adequately paraphrasing or quoting directing,” (Harvard Guide to Using Sources 2016). Inadequate paraphrasing is when you attempt to recreate a source’s words and put them into your own words, but the result is still too closely related to the original work. Even if it is cited, this is still plagiarism. Similarly, uncited paraphrasing, can be adequately paraphrased, but without citing the ideas is attempting to take credit for something that is not your original idea, even if it’s original wording. Putting quote marks around a sentence from a source is not enough to not plagiarize. There must be a source for the quote, or an uncited quotation is plagiarism.[2]


Just like stealing something from a store, plagiarism is illegal. Authors are protected under Intellectual Property Rights. This does not mean that you must protect all of your work under a copyright or trademark. If the original idea is documented, then it will most likely be protected under Copyright Law.[3]


Regardless of your level of exposure, being caught will have a very negative effect on a reputation. Specifically, in business, a person or entire business can lose credibility, if not all of their credibility. For individuals, finding a job after an offense such as plagiarism could become nearly impossible. Businesses need to trust their employees who they hire to use their ideas to work and without trust, employers have a very hard time moving forward with employees. As a whole, a business caught plagiarizing will have a very difficult time keeping good relationships with customers and other businesses that now view the business as an untrustworthy organization. Beyond the public image of the company, the legal consequences as written above, although not criminal, can result in “monetary repercussions,” where the plagiarizer can be fined for the amount due to the original author (6 Consequences of Plagiarism 2016). This can get extremely costly for any business big or small.[4]

Regardless of the legal and public image consequences, stealing someone else’s work is wrong. It is easier than ever to copy and paste someone’s work and call it your own, easier than stealing a book from the library. Yet, the ramifications of plagiarism are much worse than an angry librarian for your public image and bottom line.


[1] What is Plagiarism? (n.d.). Retrieved July 21, 2016, from

[2] Harvard Guide to Using Sources. (u.d.). Retrieved July 21, 2016, from

[3] What is Plagiarism? (n.d.). Retrieved July 21, 2016, from

[4] 6 Consequences of Plagiarism. (n.d.). Retrieved July 21, 2016, from

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