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Copyright for Students

Plagiarism vs. Copyright

As an Assiniboine student, it's a good idea to understand the difference between plagiarism and copyright.



In Assiniboine's Policy A25, plagiarism is defined as "using another's words, ideas, theories or images without crediting the source" (Assiniboine Community College, 2013).

Plagiarism is more of an ethical issue and not a legal one. Plagiarism doesn't necessarily include copyright infringement, although it can be used as the basis to charge someone with copyright infringement. By not citing someone else’s work properly in your own, plagiarism has taken place even if the work you are using is not protected under copyright law. And even though copying one sentence from a short story or an online article, for example, is legal under copyright law, it may still qualify as plagiarism unless the source has the proper citation and reference.


Copyright infringement is a legal offense pertaining to Canada’s Copyright Act, and involves the unauthorized use or distribution of someone else's creative work, which can include writings, songs, video clips, movies, visual art, or other creative works, and is punishable under federal law. Taking a copyrighted work and making changes to it creates a “derivative work,” which would not be considered a unique work and also would not provide you with full copyright ownership. Properly citing a source avoids plagiarism, but not copyright infringement.


The text of this page was adapted from the University of Saskatchewan, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 Canada License.

File Sharing Sites

What is academic file-sharing?

Academic file-sharing sites facilitate “the transfer and trading of lecture materials, notes, assessment tasks, answers, and responses with others, including Internet-based sites, for a fee, for free, or to barter” (Rogerson & Basanta, 2016).  This includes sites such as CourseHero, OneClass, and StuDocu.

Since anyone can upload files of any quality to these sites, what you're seeing there may not be well-researched or well-written. Instructors at colleges and universities can also sign up for and upload material to file-sharing sites. This means that there may be files on these sites which instructors use to monitor who is accessing them.

File-sharing sites will share your information if the copyright holder of what you've uploaded – such as an instructor or college – asks for it to be removed. They have also blackmailed and extorted students who have engaged with their sites or similar contract cheating services.