Copyright for Students

Copyright & Plagiarism

Education is about the exchange and creation of ideas. It is essential that this process respect the original authors and creators responsible for the material we use. Understanding the boundaries of copyright and plagiarism protects everyone.


Copyright infringement is using someone else’s work with acknowledgement, but without permission or without following fair use guidelines.

Students working on research papers and presentations must  understand the limits of what is the “fair use” of someone else’s material. Remember that the unauthorized use or dispersal of someone else’s creative and/or scholarly work is illegal.

Note the four factors of fair use:

  • Purpose: What you will do with the material?
  • Nature: What is the format of the copyrighted work?
  • Amount: How much of the original work will you be using?
  • Effect: How will using this material impact the market for the original?

To help you answer these questions, use the following worksheet:

For more detailed information, this 5-page document summarizes fair use practices:

Copyright and fair use guidelines apply to the copying and sharing of multimedia materials as well. College students are often sued for downloading and sharing music and movie files without the copyright holder’s permission. When you download copyrighted music and movie files from the internet you are breaking the law and taking a chance on being hit with costly penalties. Educate yourself on the limits and requirements for fair use of multimedia:

Each of the following institutions helped provide this material and have excellent resources for copyright concerns in higher education:


Plagiarism is using someone else’s work and pretending it is your own. 

This can include not giving credit for direct quotes, paraphrasing text, and passing off someone else’s ideas as your own. Submitting another person’s full research paper or project as your own is plagiarism.

Plagiarism also includes not acknowledging your use of someone else’s visual and media material, such as music, artwork, charts, and graphs.

When in doubt, always cite your sources. When you do not acknowledge the creator of the material you are using, you are guilty of academic dishonesty and fraud.

For a better understanding of plagiarism, refer to one of the following sites:

Pacific Union College has established a Code of Academic Integrity  available in the 2012 Student Handbook and takes these guidelines very seriously. Information on this policy is also provided in the current College Bulletin.


Information provided in this document is no more than a personal understanding of the application of the copyright law to the academic environment and is not an official document issued by Pacific Union College.