Can you get suspended from school, be fined, or even go to jail for stealing content?
The answer is technically yes.
While you probably won’t get locked up, plagiarism is a serious offense with real consequences.
The end result of “borrowing” someone else’s work may vary depending on the intent or industry. However, the negative consequences are damaging either way and should be enough to deter anyone from intentionally stealing content.
What happens when you plagiarize?
Before we discuss the consequences of plagiarism, you should have an understanding of what plagiarism is. Many people think that plagiarism is simply copying someone else’s work word-for-word and trying to pass it off as your own. However, not all plagiarism is the same, and it isn’t always intentional.
Here are a few common types of plagiarism to watch out for:
Most types of plagiarism can be avoided by properly citing or quoting your research sources. However, accidents happen, and in some cases, you might miss something when working with another writer and in charge of making sure their work isn’t stolen or misquoted.
Whatever the case, as a writer or editor, you’re likely to come up against plagiarism. The internet is full of examples of plagiarized content. So much so that you might be thinking it isn’t a big deal to “borrow” some copy or ideas from another source. Everyone seems to be doing it.
However, there are serious consequences to plagiarism that any writer, from a professional copywriter to a new college student, needs to know about.
What happens when you plagiarize varies depending on what was stolen and the severity of the theft. For instance, paraphrasing someone’s research findings when writing a school paper will have different consequences than if you directly copied someone’s patented research and published it on your website as if it were your own.
Why is plagiarism bad for students?
If you are a high school or college student accused of plagiarism, this will call your academic integrity into question.
This can lead to a failing grade in the class and even wind up on your permanent record. Plagiarists can also find themselves suspended, expelled, or even barred from attending universities. It simply isn’t worth the risk.
Fortunately, it is easy to avoid this fate. There are tons of free plagiarism checkers that you can use to quickly scan your paper. Online plagiarism checkers work by comparing your paper to published research papers and indexed web pages to check for copyright infringement and stolen content. This type of software is advanced enough to check for more than direct plagiarism, but also look for synonyms, paraphrasing, and improper attribution.
Why is plagiarism a serious offense?
Students aren’t the only ones that can see stiff penalties. Plagiarised content has the potential to hurt professional careers as effectively as it can harm an academic one. Plagiarism is such a serious offense because it’s unethical, damaging, and potentially illegal.
Plagiarism can lead to some serious consequences that can cause lasting damage to the plagiarist. The impact can be felt by not just the person committing the act but their company and anyone else involved with the stolen content, whether they knew about it or not.
In the next section, we’ll cover some of the actual consequences that can result from the act of plagiarism.
The 8 consequences of plagiarism
As mentioned above, students can face serious consequences for submitting plagiarized work. Grade penalties, class or course failure, suspension, expulsion, or other disciplinary action like being banned from extracurricular activities or sports are all possible. In some cases, students may even be barred from attending other schools or universities.
If you aren’t challenging yourself to come up with original content and fresh ideas, then your creativity will suffer as a result. It’s difficult to flex your creative muscles when you’re only copying someone else’s work. The best writers push themselves creatively so their work can stand out. Plagiarized work prevents you from pushing yourself to create something truly unique.
Poor quality content
Plagiarizing content can hurt not just the quality of creative outputs but your career. Submitting stolen work can have serious consequences for a company, whether that’s poor-performing content or actual penalties. As an employee or contractor for a company impacted by your plagiarism, you can expect to bear the brunt of it. You could get fired or face being blacklisted in your industry, making it difficult for you to land another job.
Plagiarizing content can hurt not just the quality of creative outputs, but your career. Submitting stolen work can have serious consequences for a company, whether that’s poor performing content or actual penalties. As an employee or contractor for a company impacted by your plagiarism, you can expect to bear the brunt of it. You could get fired or face being blacklisted in your industry, making it difficult for you to land another job.
In addition to hurting your career, your personal and professional reputation can be impacted by plagiarism. You can even harm the reputation of the brand you represent or your employer. Plagiarism comes across as shady and immoral. It’s hard to undo the negative result of your audience or customers finding out your work was plagiarized.
Authority and ranking penalties
High quality, original content helps boost website search rankings. On the flip side, search engines will penalize duplicate or plagiarized content. The goal of search engines is to find the most relevant, quality content for each query. It goes against the best interest of the searcher to be sent to a plagiarizing website.
Deters your audience or followers
Aside from the hit to your reputation, plagiarized content simply isn’t interesting. Serving up ideas and content that’s already been published isn’t as engaging or exciting as something new. This is true whether the work is self-plagiarized or taken from an outside source.
Potential legal and criminal action
Lastly, one of the most serious consequences of plagiarism is a potential lawsuit or even jail time.
Most plagiarism cases won’t end up in court, but if the plagiarized content happens to be protected by copyright law, you could be stuck with legal fines or penalties. At the very least, you could be served with a cease and desist letter.
Plagiarism is easy enough to avoid with proper quotations and attention to detail. Always be diligent about citing your work and make every effort to come up with original content to avoid the negative consequences of plagiarism.