How to Avoid Copyright Infringement while Quoting in Journals?

Contrary to popular belief, a citation for another's work is not a sure solution to avoid copyright infringement. While citation shows ‘good faith’ and ‘fair use’, it does not necessarily prevent violation of rights. Infringement can only be avoided by seeking the owner’s permission or by using the exceptions under the Copyright Law.

2 Ways to Avoid Violation of Copyrights

While quoting someone’s work in a journal or book, the only sure-shot was to avoid infringement of copyrights is by seeking the permission of the owner or by making sure you fall under the exceptions mentioned in the Indian Copyright Act.

1. Seeking Permission

Many creators are willing to share their work either for a fee or with proper attribution. The owner can either assign the right to you or license the same for a limit period of time.

Both licensing and copyright assignment is mentioned in the Copyright Act, 1957. However, the basic condition is that such assignment and licensing must compulsorily have a financial aspect.

2. Exceptions Under the Copyright Act

If the user in the journal results in any one of the following situations, then, the permission of the owner is not required. Such use would not fall under the rules of unauthorized use. However, you must still ensure that the credit for the work is acknowledged to avoid plagiarism.

Copyright infringement will not hold ground when the work is used:  

  • For personal use or private study.
  • By educational and research institution
  • For criticism and review
  • In judicial proceedings
  • By the legislature
  • By an amateur club

What is Plagiarism?

Plagiarism occurs when the work of an author is used without acknowledgement. This results in a false claim – giving the impression that you are the creator of the work.

A citation is an obvious cure to ensure that your content doesn’t fall under the purview of plagiarism. However, this is not necessarily the case for copyright infringement.

The Distinction Between Plagiarism and Copyright

Plagiarism is different from copyright in the sense that, a copyright lasts for a limited period. In India, the term of the copyright is 60 years, after which the work falls under public domain. However, irrespective of whether the work in protected by a copyright or not, you can still plagiarise it.


The works of William Wordsworth are no longer protected by copyright; however, it can still be plagiarized. To avoid plagiarism, you can mention the source of the content.

Therefore, citation always cures plagiarism.

Why Citation isn’t a Solution for Infringement?

While plagiarism is the unacknowledged use of a person's work, copyright violation is the unauthorized use of content.  

Therefore, if you use someone’s work, it would still be a copyright violation despite the fact that you would have given the necessary citation.

In a court of law, a citation can be used to show proof of good faith, but it is not a sufficient defence against an infringement suit.


Not all works are protected by copyright. Therefore, there can be no infringement when there were no rights, to begin with.

One should also understand that copyright only protects the expression of the idea, and not the idea itself. When you recreate another’s idea without their permission, it might not amount to copyright infringement, but it could fall under the gamut of plagiarism.

While it might not always lead to legal proceedings, plagiarism can be sufficient grounds for both academic and profession violation of ethics.

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