Music rip-offs: Plagiarism or copyright infringement?

By Zeeshan Ali Khan, Lall Lahiri & Salhotra

It is a common perception that plagiarism amounts to copyright infringement, particularly when it relates to musical and literary works. This could not be further from the truth. While certain elements of plagiarism are similar to copyright infringement, there is a marked distinction between the two.

Zeeshan Ali Khan Associate Lall Lahiri & Salhotra
Zeeshan Ali Khan
Lall Lahiri & Salhotra

Plagiarism refers to lifting someone else’s work without credit to the source and thereby creating the misleading impression that the work is original. Copyright infringement is the unauthorized or prohibited use of copyright-protected work, which results in infringement of the exclusive rights that the copyright owner holds in the work.

For plagiarism, it is not necessary that the work be copyright protected – even a work in the public domain may be plagiarized if there is a high degree of similarity between the new work and the original work. Plagiarism is primarily a moral infringement and an issue of ethical responsibility of the person claiming originality in someone else’s work.

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Zeeshan Ali Khan is an associate on the litigation team at Lall Lahiri & Salhotra, which is an IP boutique based in Gurgaon.


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