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Policies Regarding Plagiarism and Misuse of Copyrights:

Misuse of Sources Defined

The University distinguishes between plagiarism and the misuse of sources. Concerning “misuse of sources:”

Ethical writers make every effort to acknowledge sources fully and appropriately in accordance with the contexts and genres of their writing. A student who attempts (even if clumsily) to identify and credit his or her source, but who misuses a specific citation format or incorrectly uses quotation marks or other forms of identifying material taken from other sources, has not plagiarized. Instead, such a student [has] failed to cite and document sources appropriately. (Council of Writing Program Administrators (2003, January). Defining and Avoiding Plagiarism: The WPA Statement on Best Practices. Retrieved from (

If sources have been misused, in order to receive credit for the work in question, the student will be required to revise until the student’s professor is satisfied that all sources are cited and documented appropriately.

Plagiarism Defined

Concerning plagiarism:

In an instructional setting, plagiarism occurs when a writer deliberately uses someone else’s language, ideas, or other original (not common‐knowledge) material without acknowledging its source. This definition applies to texts published in print or online, to manuscripts, and to the work of other student writers. (Council of Writing Program Administrators (2003, January). Defining and Avoiding Plagiarism: The WPA Statement on Best Practices. Retrieved from (

Plagiarism includes claiming credit for the artistic or creative work of someone else, such as a map, graph, musical composition, photo, electronic image, painting, drawing, sculpture, design, or computer code. Obtaining unauthorized assistance from another person in the writing of a comprehensive examination is also plagiarism. The most likely disciplinary outcome of plagiarism in any completed culminating activity will be expulsion from the University without possibility of readmission.

Copyright Restrictions

The U.S. copyright law provides federal copyright protection for both published and unpublished works. Therefore, authors who may wish to include quotations, illustrations, charts, graphs, musical arrangements, and so forth in their thesis/project should make every effort to be sure that reproduction of the copyrighted material does not exceed the doctrine of “fair use,” which considers both the purpose and character of the use of copyrighted material. Unpublished works, as well as works published without valid copyright notice, are eligible for protection. Absence of a c‐world (©) does not necessarily mean that a work is in the public domain. Tabular arrangements and compilations are specifically covered under copyright law. Permission to reprint or adapt charts, tables, graphs, tabular arrangements, musical arrangements, and so forth must be sought from the copyright holder. Failure to adhere to U.S. copyright law resulting in unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials (including unauthorized peer-to-peer file sharing) may result in the student(s) becoming subject to civil and criminal liabilities.

To obtain current information on the use of copyrighted material, it is recommended that students refer to sites such as the Copyright Crash Course ( or These sites are current, well‐maintained, and user‐friendly.

Summary of Civil and Criminal Penalties for Violation of Federal Copyright Laws:

Copyright infringement is the act of exercising, without permission or legal authority, one or more of the exclusive rights granted to the copyright owner under section 106 of the Copyright Act (Title 17 of the United States Code). These rights include the right to reproduce or distribute a copyrighted work. In the file-sharing context, downloading or uploading substantial parts of a copyrighted work without authority constitutes an infringement. Penalties for copyright infringement include civil and criminal penalties. In general, anyone found liable for civil copyright infringement may be ordered to pay either actual damages or “statutory” damages affixed at not less than $750 and not more than $30,000 per work infringed. For “willful” infringement, a court may award up to $150,000 per work infringed. A court can, in its discretion, also assess costs and attorneys’ fees. For details, see Title 17, United States Code, Sections 504, 505. Willful copyright infringement can also result in criminal penalties, including imprisonment of up to five years and fines of up to $250,000 per offense. For more information, please see the website of the U.S. Copyright Office at

Fair Use

If a work is protected by copyright, permission must be acquired prior to incorporation of that work into a new document. Extracts and quotations may be used to a limited extent for purposes of illustration and criticism. The language of the copyright law is vague as to what constitutes fair use, so when in doubt, seek permission and consult with the professor.

Securing Permission

Efforts to obtain permission to use material from other sources should begin well in advance of a paper or project. Students are expected to acquire written permission to use the material, and evidence of such permission must be provided with the final copy of the paper or project. Written permission may either be by a letter or by a fax and must be accompanied by the signature of the individual granting permission. An e‐mail response granting permission is considered similar to acquiring verbal permission over the phone. Neither is considered adequate proof that permission has been secured; therefore, they must be backed up by some means of written permission. A statement of permission must appear below the caption of a figure or at the bottom of a table. The owner of the copyright may request that specific words or phrases be used to indicate that permission was granted. All copyrighted tables and figures must be followed by a complete reference citation (e.g., not the abbreviated format such as author/year) and should state, “Reprinted with permission.”  Requests for permission should be directed to the copyright holder or the copyright permissions editor of the publication. When requesting permission to reproduce copyrighted material, be sure to specify that the request is for a one‐time, non‐profit, educational use.

The University is committed to upholding the highest standards of academic honesty. It is incumbent upon each student to become familiar with current standards and policies. Culminating activities that do not have appropriate copyright releases for borrowed material will not be approved.

Questions regarding copyrights and plagiarism? Contact or (916)-577-2288

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