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Plagiarism 

Most people understand that plagiarism is unethical, but very few people truly understand what plagiarism really is. In fact, many individuals unintentionally plagiarize all the time.

Plagiarism often occurs because so many people do not know when they need to cite a resource, or they do not understand how to properly cite a resource.

Merriam-Webster defines “plagiarize” to mean the following:

  • "to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one’s own;
  • to use (another’s production) without creating the source;
  • to commit literary theft;
  • to present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source.”

Thus, plagiarism is essentially failing to correctly cite a source from which you took information or an idea, from.

Attorney for Students Accused of Plagiarism in Tallahassee, FL

There are times when there is no question about whether something was plagiarized. There are, however, instances where accused plagiarism is questionable.

If you or someone you know is a student at Florida State University, or in another secondary school in Florida, such as: The University of Florida (UF), The University of South Florida (USF), or Florida A&M University (FAMU), contact the experienced lawyers at Pumphrey Law.

The attorneys at Pumphrey Law are experienced professionals who are dedicated to fighting to get the best possible result.

Call (850) 681-7777 to learn more about how an experienced lawyer at our firm can help you.


Information About Plagiarism


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How Universities Detect Plagiarism

Most universities prohibit plagiarism in their student code of conduct and in their academic honor policies. These violations are then reviewed by the school's disciplinary board

According to the University of South Florida, plagiarism is “literary theft” and students commit plagiarism by paraphrasing, quoting, or taking ideas without using the proper citation.

Florida State University created a guide for its instructors on how to detect plagiarism. The Guide calls for instructors to do the following:

  • to ask students to describe how they found the source that he or she cites and what strategies that he or she used in conducting research;
  • to use a four to eight keyword search in Google or Google Scholar to locate the plagiarized work;
  • to look for vocabulary not commonly used;
  • to look for the citations that are included;
  • to look for statements at the end of the paper that acknowledge the source for the paper;
  • to look for unusual formatting.

Each Florida university deals with plagiarism differently. If you have been accused of plagiarism, looking to your school’s academic honor guide or its student code of conduct book will be the first step in determining what to do next.


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Penalties for Plagiarism

Although each Florida university has its own rules and penalties for students who have been caught plagiarizing, many of the policies are similar.

Florida State University has a two-step process for issuing sanctions for academic honor code violations. The first-step is implemented after a first-offense violation, and is less harsh than the penalties imposed in the second-step.

The second-step is implemented after a second-violation, the punishment for which can range from an automatic zero or “F” in a course, to being academically dismissed from the institution.


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Plagiarism versus Copyright Infringement

The difference between plagiarism and copyright infringement is the basis in each of those offenses. Plagiarism does not generally result in criminal or civil liability. In addition, plagiarism is considered an ethical standard.

Copyright infringement, on the other hand, is a federal claim made by the owner or creator of a “work.” Copyright infringement can only occur with works that are protected by copyright. Plagiarism can occur on a broader scale.

If an individual steals ideas from a work and presents it as his or her own, then the original owner of a protected work can force the alleged offender to remove his or her copy of a work. Additionally, an individual can bring a claim under 17 U.S.C. § 501.


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Additional Resources

Florida State University Academic Honor Policy – Visit the Florida State University website for more information about the Universities’ academic honor policy, including the penalties and sanctions for being caught plagiarizing in violation of FSU Honor policy.

What is Plagiarism – Visit “About Plagiarism” to find out more information about the definition of plagiarism, how plagiarism harms the creative community and why it is important to employ proper citation practices when writing academically and creatively.

U.S. Copyright Office – Visit the United States Copyright Office website to learn more information about copyright law as a Federal claim and the consequences of being accused of copyright infringement in violation of 17 U.S.C. § 501.


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Find a Lawyer for Plagiarism in Leon County, FL

If you or someone you know is a student at FSU, USF, UF, or in another nearby university in Florida who has been accused of plagiarism and faces sanctions or academic dismissal, contact the experienced attorneys at Pumphrey Law.

Our lawyers are experienced litigators who practices throughout the courtrooms in Tallahassee, Florida, and who regularly represent students in, not only criminal violations, but in academic violations as well. We accept plagiarism cases in Leon County, Florida, and in the surrounding counties of Wakulla County, Liberty County, and Gadsden County, Florida.

Call (850) 681-7777 now to schedule a free, confidential, consultation with one of our experienced attorneys.

This article was last updated on Friday, September 1, 2017.