In order to successfully draw the comparisons as well as contrasts between the restrictions on copying imposed by copyright law and the restrictions on plagiarism and paraphrasing in the University’s academic integrity policy, Two key terms must first be clearly understood; academic dishonesty and academic dishonesty. The term academic dishonesty is used in academic circles to mean that a student has not maintained academic integrity that is recommended in the university’s academic integrity policy. Appropriate sanctions are imposed on students who go against the high academic standards set by the university by engaging in acts that point to academic dishonesty. The student must be clearly shown to have committed the offence so as to deserve the sanctions. Similarly, in the U.S copyright laws, offenders must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt that they have committed the offence. In the copyright laws, violators of the U.S copyright laws are punished according to state laws that prohibit copying artistic or creative works while the university punishes its owns students according to the rules stipulated in Policy 150.25 which touches on Academic Dishonesty and Plagiarism (Center for Intellectual Property’s Virtual Academic Integrity Laboratory)                

The university’s policy on academic integrity as well as the procedures regarding the handling of academic dishonesty besides plagiarism is quite explicit. The policy has an aim of fostering academic integrity within the academic fraternity. With reference to academics, the institution defines integrity as the act of commitment to some specific core values of truth, honesty, respect, fairness and responsibility. The aim of the U.S copyright act is to protect artistic as well as creative works. All members of UMUC academic community should at all times adhere to such values as truthfulness and honesty. They should endeavor to be truthful in their expression devoid of deception, cheating, fraud and duplicity. The policy requires that they be forthright in their interactions with one another and some reasonable effort should be made in order to fulfill their commitments. Fairness requires that students and other academic staff be treated in accordance with the set standards as well as policies and impartiality should be administered in a manner that is impartial. The environment should be such that it provides for communication that is honest and open, devoid of intimidation and harassment for respect to prevail. Members of the academic fraternity should appreciate diversity. For any action or work, each member is supposed to be accountable in line with the requirement for responsibility among members within the university community. Behavior that is academically dishonest breaches the community’s standards of ethics and the university shall not tolerate it. The copyright law permits fair use of works that belong to another person but the academic integrity rules do not allow this whether it is fair or not. The copyright law does not contain such clauses as honesty and truthfulness.

The university requires all its members to maintain integrity in their academic work in order to preserve academic integrity. In addressing cases of students who are accused of having committed an act that amounts to academic dishonesty in their coursework, the university has due process that should be followed, according to the university’s policy. Section VII (A) of the university’s policy on disciplinary action for students who are involved in incidences of academic dishonesty provides for sanctions which should be imposed upon the students according to the director of the unit with the approval of the provost. The sanctions range from mild to severe and may include the student being required to complete remedial work. The remedial work should be appropriate. The unit’s director is the one to select the remedial work which the student is supposed to do before which the student can not be allowed to continue on with the certificate or degree program. It may also be in the form of reducing the grade of the concerned work or in some cases being awarded a zero or a grade of F, which implies being denied credit portfolio. The provost may, with the recommendation of the unit’s director, approve of the suspension of the student on account of academic dishonesty. This includes a letter being attached to the concerned student’s file or in worst cases the provost may expel the student altogether, depending on the recommendation of the unit’s director (Information and Library Services). The copyright laws state that a person who is found guilty of violating the laws may, according to the discretion of the judge, be fined or sentenced to between five and ten years. The offender may also be fined and jailed at the same time depending on the magnitude of the offence. This is purely the discretion of the judge.

In the U.S, the federal statute is the one that governs copyright law, otherwise known as the copyright act, 1976. The copyright law, just like the university’s laws on academic integrity, prohibits anyone from copying a work in terms of authorship, but people are allowed to copy the ideas that may be contained in that work. The university disciplinary system does not sent offenders to jail unlike with the state copyright laws. The students are also not taken before a judge in as court of law.

The U.S copyright law grants the authors of creative work exclusive rights to that work, but it does not protect the ideas that are contained in it (Yu, 2007). Students are not allowed to present   as theirs ideas that do not belong to them, as stipulated in the academic integrity rules but in the copyright laws, one may do so as long as they do not violate copyright laws. Paraphrasing is allowed in copyright laws unlike in academic integrity rules whereby it is unethical to paraphrase the works of others to present them as original ideas.

The sanctions for students who are suspended or expelled for academic dishonesty are much more severe as are barred from registering at the university. This implies that they are not allowed to transfer to the university credits that they may earn elsewhere while serving their time in suspension. Suspension on grounds of academic dishonesty may even result in denial of admission in any other university. These kind of punitive measures taken against students who engage in acts of academic dishonesty are meant to deter them from engaging or being tempted to engage in such acts as they kill the very essence of academics in terms of originality. They also violate the rights of the owner of the plagiarized or copied material. This may deny the owner the benefits which were expected from the charges for the use of the material. Criminal Prosecution Copyright Act 505 gives the court the permission to award costs to the party that is deemed by the court to have been offended but in the academic circles, the offender is not fined but rather other forms of sanctions are imposed fro example redoing the paper, suspension  or expulsion. People who are found guilty are allowed to appeal just like in the university.

The above list of possible punitive measures the university may decide to take against a student who is found guilty of academic dishonesty shows just how seriously the university takes dishonesty and plagiarism. The consequences of intellectual dishonesty are known in many institutions and recognized in the copyright law and they are severe in some cases as they may lead the suspect to serve term in jail or seizure of the copied or plagiarized material or property. The term academic dishonesty may not sound as serious until one is caught. It entails mainly plagiarism. The university therefore does not allow students to present as their own, with or without their intention, the product or idea of another person. It is against the university’s ethical code of conduct for students to copy verbatim as well as work that does not belong to them. The students are not allowed to copy charts, use phrases, figures and such other works that do not belong to them and present them as their own. U.S copyright laws also prohibit these acts. Cheating is a form of academic dishonesty. Students who bribe to be awarded a grade they did not earn are also guilty of academic dishonesty, and this applies to those who assist others to pass an examination. Impersonation and leaking of examination details is also categorized as academic dishonesty. Students are not allowed to use materials that are not authorized by the university. Unauthorized information and study aids should not be used in any academic work.

The process of handling cases of students suspected of engaging in acts of academic dishonesty held in fairness. Section V (C) states that the suspected students are given ample time to prepare to prepare their defense as well as a fair chance defend themselves before the conference, In order to ensure fairness students may choose a representative to accompany them if they so wish. Appeal is allowed if the student feels the process was unfair. The copyright law follows a similar process whereby people suspected of infringing the copyright laws are notified and a reasonable period within which to prepare their defense they are also given a fair chance to defend themselves (U.S Copyright Act, 2005). The difference in the trial process is that violators of copyright law are allowed to be represented by an attorney.


















Center for Intellectual Property’s Virtual Academic Integrity Laboratory-VAIL.


Available at:


Information and Library Services (

U.S Copyright Act, (2005). Copyright Law in the U.S.


Available at:


Yu, P. K, (2007). Intellectual Property and Information Wealth: Copyright and related


rights. Greenwood Publishing Group