Copyright is defined in U.S. Law (title 17, U.S. Code) as being "...a form of protection provided by the the authors of "original works of authorship," including literary, dramatic, musica, artisitc, and certain other intellectual works." This law allows the author of the work to dictate what other people are allowed to do with their work.
There are four tests that have to be passed in order to use a copyrighted work. These conditions are also known as the "Fair Use Policy" are very important, because if any one of the four conditions are not met, the author can claim that their work is being used illegally. The person who is not the author will be asked to remove their work or even be addressed by the authors lawyers and sued.

On Stanford's website, they list the four factors, describing them as ways to measure the Fair Use policy. These are the terms that judges consider when determining if a copyright has been violated:

        1. The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes
        2. The nature of the copyrighted work
        3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole
        4. The effect of the use upon the potential market for, or value of, the copyrighted work

Not to be confused with Copyright and the Fair Use policy, is Creative Commons (CC) licensing. These licenses can be applied to set conditions on if the authors work can be used for commercial or non-commercial work, if they should be paid a fraction of what you make if the project their work is features on is sold to the public, and if their work can be edited in any way. If the work is licensed under the Creative Commons, it is not recorded into a database. This is just a set of guidelines. If they should be violated it is up to the author to find and assess the situation. The Creative Commons web page has buttons that you can be placed next to a work online. These buttons will redirect the user to a PDF of the conditions that the author has chosen to represent their work. Permission is not needed from the author. As long as credit is given to the author, the person using the authors work is in the right.
If credit is not given to a Creative Commons protected work, if permission is not asked from the author of a copyrighted work, or if the use of the work does not pass all four Fair Use tests, it is considered plagiarism. This is a very serious offense. If the author finds that their copyrighted work has been infringed they have the right to get legal help to deal with the issue. A lawyer will contact the person who violated the copyright. If the work has been criminally infringed, such as the redistributing of commercial work for free, the author can file a complaint to the Intellectual Property (IP) Program of the Financial Institution Fraud Unit of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Another form of copyright infringement is plagiarism. In schools, the consequences of intentional plagiarism vary on the grade level and how many offenses the student has. The punishment ranges from mild to severe. You can ask what the consequences of plagiarism are from your teacher or look for them on your schools website.

At first, the students may be asked to redo their work or receive a failing grade for the assignment. They may also be asked to do a separate assignment for partial or no credit at all. Parents will most likely be contact within the first few offenses. Detention or having a grade lowered are other punishments that may be involved with repeated offenses. Suspension for a number of days and possibly expulsion can also occur. Being expelled usually will happen at the college level, but depending on the severity and frequency of offenses expulsion can occur at the high school level.
Please keep in mind that these consequences are generally intended for intentional plagiarism. If some one forgets to cite something small, it is not an instant offense. However, copy and pasting the works of someones else is plagiarism. More information on plagiarism can be found on the website

Tips for Students:

  • Cite, cite, cite your work! If you did not create or discover what you are using in your work, it needs to be credited. Even though you didn't say the work was yours, you also didn't say that it wasn't yours. The only time that this doesn't apply, is if the knowledge is "common knowledge" such as "George Washington is the first president of the United States."
  • Do not share your work with others. Letting your friends copy down your work is cheating and plagiarism.
  • If you know that some one is plagiarizing, let your teacher know. They may not realize that they are doing something wrong and your teacher may have to go over the rules with them.

Tips for Educators:

  • Educate yourself! Copyright laws are broken all the time outside of plagiarism. The copies you scan could be in direct violation of copyright. Double check what you're copying before you break the law!
  • If you are sharing a video in class, be aware of how much of that video you need to share and how you obtained that video. If you recorded that movie or show and plan on showing its entirety, to the class, you are already in violation of the Fair Use policy.
  • Stress to your students the importance of citing and crediting their work. Whether it is for an essay, a presentation, or another visual or written work, it is important that your students are prepared for college level work by the time they graduate high school. The consequences become more dire at that level and it could spell trouble for those who did not pay enough attention.

Tips for Parents:

  • Monitor your child's school work. You will be able to recognize what they write like, just like their teacher, and so you will be able to help catch when work is not that of your child's.
  • Talk to your child about what Academic Dishonesty means to them. Find out if they are taking it seriously enough and try to explain the long term consequences of cheating and plagiarism.
  • A long-term tip is to nurture a love of learning. If your child wants to learn, they will use other authors material to fuel their need to learn and grow, and not look for ways to just skimp by on assignments.