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Question: If you take and/or copy another persons work and call it your own but make changes to it is that illegal?


This answer kind of depends upon what you mean by work. If the 'work' that you're copying is a book, a movie, a web-page or something published like that, then using it and calling it as your own would be an violation of copyright laws.

Copyright is a legal concept that comes from federal laws. A copyright means that when someone creates a 'work', they own that work and other people can not copy it without their permission. If you take a work and make changes to it, this is called creating a 'derivative work' and it is still a violation of copyright laws.

Now, if the 'work' in question were something like a 'term paper' that a classmate wrote (although this could qualify for copyright protection, the author probably would not have applied for copyright protection), then we would normally call this 'plagiarism'. Plagiarism means taking someone's work and calling it your own. While this isn't typically illegal, it is always unethical and will be a violation of most schools' codes of conduct. If you do this and get caught, you will likely be expelled or suspended from school and might receive a failing grade for the assignment.

1 thru 5 of 5 comments
On 07/13/07
Writer from AZ said:
Hi. I'm eleven, and an author. Can I copyright my work independently myself, or do "mommy and daddy" have to do it for me? Also, is there a law against young writers contest with a certain page limit? (EG: No more than fifty pages.)
On 05/08/06
Emmanuel from CA said:
my teacher told me it was plagerism back when I went to school back in the day.
On 09/12/03
carolina from AZ said:
In my school you can be expelled for that...
On 10/13/02
mike from HI said:
This is almost accurate, but not quite. Copyright laws are often considered implicit. Even if a copyright isn't declared or filed, you can be sued for copyright infringment if the work is considered, "original." "Original," is a rather vague definition and what they argue about most of all in courts. Anyway, I thought the matter should be clarified.
On 10/07/02
sss from AZ said:
duhhhhhhh thats called plagurism, don't you ever read taht warning on the tv screen before the movie begins.......warning, violation of copyright may result in.......
1 thru 5 of 5 comments

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