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Copyright: Copyright for Student Projects

A guide for students and instructors. This guide is not intended to be legal advice. It was not created by lawyers. It is designed to provide general information about copyright and intellectual property.

Copyright Infringement vs. Plagiarism

Plagiarism is using creative work without attribution (giving proper credit). Plagiarism is using someone else's words (or other creative output) and not giving them proper credit, suggesting that the words are your own. We cite sources to avoid plagiarism and provide attribution for quotations and paraphrasing in our work.

Copyright infringement is using creative work without permission. Copyright infringement happens whenever we use someone else's creative work without their permission. Does that mean that, every time we quote someone in our papers, we need to ask for their permission?  No.  This is because the copyright law has a concept called fair use built into it. More information is provided about fair use through this guide, but the kind of quoting that you would do in a paper would nearly always be a fair use.

So, it is possible to plagiarize without infringing copyright. It is also possible to infringe copyright without plagiarizing. 

CC-BY-SA: McHenry County College Library

Watch this short video for specific examples of differences between copyright infringement and plagiarism. Jump ahead to 2:10' for using YouTube videos or 3:47' for making photocopies.

Free to Use Images

Copyright Consideration for Posters and Slide Presentations

Copyright protection extends to student poster projects and class presentations. As an educational purpose, test out if your use falls under Fair Use. Most often, images, videos, and other media often used in presentations will not be allowed under Fair Use. Below are some free resources that can be used for any purpose, providing you with more time to spend on content, not tracking down copyright permissions.

Presentation Templates