We have come across the term ‘plagiarism’ a lot many times. As writers we also know the types of plagiarisms, like patch-work, global, incremental, the ghost-writer, photocopy, potluck paper and self-plagiarism.

But do we know what an ‘author’ means? As an Indian, let me refer to the Copyright Act of India. The Copyright Act of India states that the writer of a literary or dramatic work is the ‘author’ of that work.

The Indian Copyright Act has sections provided for ‘Copyright Infringement’ but not for ‘Plagiarism’. Is there a difference between the two?

Plagiarism and Copyright Infringement maybe similar in some areas, but are two different terms. When you use any author’s work and try to pass it off as your own, without giving credit, you have committed ‘plagiarism’. If you make use of an author’s work, for which prior permission is essential, you have done a ‘copyright infringement’.

In India, plagiarism is considered more of an ethical issue and does not have special laws. However, the laws of ‘copyright infringement’ have been applied for plagiarism acts as well.

In India even an accidental or innocent infringement of a copyright is punishable. However, the intention of the individual is taken into account while considering the degree of punishment.

An individual or a group is considered guilty not only when the infringement activity is done by self, knowingly, but also when there was an indirect involvement or no steps were taken to stop such an act in spite of knowledge about it.

The punishments for a copyright infringement act is dependent on the involvement level of the individual or group i.e. if it was done knowingly or unknowingly, involved directly or indirectly and first time or serial offender. Based on the involvement, the offender or offenders can be imprisoned for a period of six months to two years with a fine of fifty thousand to two lakh rupees.

In case of repeat of the offence, the imprisonment ranges from one to two years with a fine ranging from one to two lakh rupees.

I hope this knowledge about plagiarism and copyright infringement laws in India has made you more aware and alert. Happy writing!