Copyright and Plagiarism: US Copyright Law


The Copyright Law of the United States defines copyright as the opportunity for the creator of a material object or an innovative idea to claim exclusive rights for the result of his/her work and to apply for the legislative protection of these exclusive rights (Copyright Law of the United States, 2007, p. 2). Drawing from this, the law operates with the notions of copy and copyright owner. The former is referred to as “material objects, other than phonorecords, in which a work is fixed by any method now known or later developed, and from which the work can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated, either directly or with the aid of a machine or device” (Copyright Law of the United States, 2007, p. 2).

The copyright owner, “with respect to any one of the exclusive rights comprised in a copyright, refers to the owner of that particular right” (Copyright Law of the United States, 2007, p. 2). Thus, the country’s laws protect the right of the person for using his/her ideas or inventions and pose certain copyright restrictions.

The essence of all the copyright restrictions established by the Copyright Law of the United States (2007) is formulated in the following statement in section 501, a, of the above law:

Anyone who violates any of the exclusive rights of the copyright owner as provided by sections 106 through 122 or of the author as provided in section 106A (a), or who imports copies or phonorecords into the United States in violation of section 602, is an infringer of the copyright or right of the author, as the case may be (Copyright Law of the United States, 2007, p. 146).

Drawing from this, it is forbidden by the US law to reproduce or use in any way the copyrighted work or an idea from it without the consent obtained from the copyright owner of this work or idea or without acknowledging the authors if the idea is used for purely scholarly purposes.

The punishment for the violation of the copyright restrictions provided by the Copyright Law of the United States (2007) range from the official injunctions issued by the court eligible for hearing the copyright disputes to the criminal charges filed against the infringer of the copyright laws and regulations. Injunctions are issued by the court when the infringements of the copyright are mild and the aim of injunctions is to stop the further infringements. The next step the court might take is order the impounding or destruction of any disposition of the material objects created with the infringement of the copyright or using the idea whose use is also the copyright infringement (Copyright Law of the United States, 2007, p. 148).

Further on, the copyright infringer might be held reliable for compensation of the damages suffered by the copyright owner and for all additional benefits the infringer obtained from the infringement. Finally, the criminal responsibility might be imposed on the infringer is the copyright violation happened for commercial or distributional purposes (Copyright Law of the United States, 2007, pp. 149 – 150).

Towson University Policies

As contrasted to copyright laws, plagiarism regulations are characterized by milder potential responsibility for their violations. To understand how Towson University works on fighting plagiarism among its students, it is necessary to see how basic terms like student and plagiarism are defined and categorized in Towson. Thus, the term students, according to Towson University (2009), “includes all persons taking courses at the university, both full-time and part-time, pursuing undergraduate, graduate, professional, and certificate or continuing studies”. This definition allows avoiding any disputes as for the status of the person accused of plagiarizing.

Plagiarism is defined as “presenting work, products, ideas, words, or data of another as one’s own is plagiarism” (Towson University, 2009). So, if in the copyright law the restrictions are put on the use of ideas of their inventor, the plagiarism policy in Towson University considers the instances of use of those ideas without acknowledging their authors.

In more detail, the Student Academic Integrity Policy of Towson University defines three major types of plagiarism for which their committers have to be punished. These types include the use of the words or statements of another author without acknowledging the latter, use of the ideas or theories developed by other authors without acknowledging the latter even if the wording is completely changed, and the intentional use of data, statistics or any other specific units of information without indicating the source of the latter (Towson University, 2009).

Compared to copyright restrictions, the plagiarism regulations are milder in the responsibility imposed for their violation, but are similar in their strictness. In other words, if a copyrighted restriction is violated by a person for the purpose of his/her commercial advantage, this person might bear criminal responsibility for the infringement. If a student in Towson University violates the plagiarism policy, the responsibility he/she might bear is determined by the faculty members based on the seriousness of the violation.

The punishments imposed on the students that violate the Student Academic Integrity Policy of Towson University range from the need to revise the work where an instance of plagiarism was detected to the expulsion from the university (Towson University, 2009). Moreover, Towson University distinguishes between the course-related and non course-related violations of plagiarism rules, and the punishments imposed depend upon the type of the violation detected.

Thus, if a person is guilty of the course related violation he/she might have to revise the work or obtain the reduced grade for the work or the whole course (Towson University, 2009). The non course-related violations involve failures at comprehensive exams, dismissal from academic and graduate programs, and even referral to the Office of Judicial Affairs (Towson University, 2009). The repeated violations of the plagiarism policy might lead to the “suspension from the university for a designated period of time, expulsion from the university, or any sanctions listed in the Code of Student Conduct or Graduate School Catalog” (Towson University, 2009).

Thus, the main difference between the copyright restrictions presented by the Copyright Law of the United States (2007) and plagiarism policies of Towson University (2009) is the fact that copyright restrictions forbid any use of works or ideas by others without their consent, while plagiarism rules at Towson require the students to acknowledge the fact if they use somebody else’s ideas. The main similarity between the notions of copyright and plagiarism is the necessity to acknowledge the right of the inventor of a material object or an idea for the use of the latter. Accordingly, Towson University requires that its students should be prepared for the real life. They should admit the rights of other people for the results of their work and be able to defend their own rights in this relation.

Works Cited

Towson University. “Student Academic Integrity Policy.” 2009. Towson University Official. Web.

Copyright Law of the United States. “Circular 92.” 2007. Web.

Video Voice-over

Cite this paper

Select style


LawBirdie. (2023, October 4). Copyright and Plagiarism: US Copyright Law. Retrieved from


LawBirdie. (2023, October 4). Copyright and Plagiarism: US Copyright Law.

Work Cited

"Copyright and Plagiarism: US Copyright Law." LawBirdie, 4 Oct. 2023,


LawBirdie. (2023) 'Copyright and Plagiarism: US Copyright Law'. 4 October.


LawBirdie. 2023. "Copyright and Plagiarism: US Copyright Law." October 4, 2023.

1. LawBirdie. "Copyright and Plagiarism: US Copyright Law." October 4, 2023.


LawBirdie. "Copyright and Plagiarism: US Copyright Law." October 4, 2023.