Plagiarism (West's Encyclopedia of American Law)
The act of appropriating the literary composition of another author, or excerpts, ideas, or passages therefrom, and passing the material off as one's own creation.
Plagiarism is theft of another person's writings or ideas. Generally, it occurs when someone steals expressions from another author's composition and makes them appear to be his own work. Plagiarism is not a legal term; however, it is often used in lawsuits. Courts recognize acts of plagiarism as violations of COPYRIGHT law, specifically as the theft of another person's INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY. Because copyright law allows a variety of creative works to be registered as the property of their owners, lawsuits alleging plagiarism can be based on the appropriation of any form of writing, music, and visual images.
Plagiarism can take a broad range of forms. At its simplest and most extreme, plagiarism involves putting one's own name on someoneelse's work; this is commonly seen in schools when a student submits a paper that someone else has written. Schools, colleges, and universities usually have explicit guidelines for reviewing and punishing plagiarism by students and faculty members. In copyright lawsuits, however, allegations of plagiarism are more often based on partial theft. It is not necessary to exactly duplicate another's work in order to infringe a copyright: it is sufficient to take a substantial portion of the copyrighted material. Thus, for example, plagiarism can include copying language or ideas from another novelist, basing a new song in large part on another's musical composition, or copying another artist's drawing or photograph.
Courts and juries have a difficult time determining when unlawful copying has occurred. One thing the plaintiff must show is that the alleged plagiarist had access to the copyrighted work. Such evidence might include a showing that the plaintiff sent the work to the defendant in an attempt to sell it or that the work was publicly available and widely disseminated.
Once access is proven, the plaintiff must show that the alleged plagiarism is based on a substantial similarity between the two works. In Abkco Music, Inc....
(The entire section is 921 words.)
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