United Arab Emirates: Plagiarism And Its Legal Consequences

Last Updated: 14 February 2018
Article by STA Law Firm
Most Read Contributor in United Arab Emirates, September 2019

The origins of this proverb are unknown, but they are relevant in varied contexts. One can say that the concept of plagiarism efficiently sits on this axiom. But there's another saying too; "If you steal ideas from one source that's plagiarism, but ideas stolen from more than one source makes the output a 'research.'" So, which one of these two proverbs should we apply when talking about plagiarism? Will it be literary theft? Or will it be fair to use? No doubt, the rules of plagiarism are vague. Although the subject falls under the umbrella of Intellectual Property (the IP), IP law does not directly prohibit the same.

The two main branches of IP law deal with copyright and industrial property. Patents and trademarks fall under the later, and copyrights deal with the right of authorship. Strictly speaking, plagiarism cannot fall under the two types of IP. While plagiarism protects ideas, copyright law does not protect intangible expressions or idea. There are many ways of defining plagiarism.

Defining Plagiarism

Imagine coming up with a plan, a story or a poem. After putting your heart and soul into it, and perfecting it, you put it online or maybe write it down on a notepad. A friend then comes along to steal your ideas, or someone on the internet copies your work, and they get praised for it. How would that make you feel? After all your hard work and dedication, you do not get credit for your creativity and originality, and someone else gets praised for the fruits of your labor. This aspect is the reason why norms on plagiarism are essential, namely to make sure the rightful author gets attribution and credit for their work.

The Miriam Webster Online Dictionary defines plagiarism as literary theft and the stealing and presenting of another's ideas as your own, without crediting the source. The use of someone else's expressions, work or even ideas without accrediting the source is plagiarism. The rules of plagiarism do not apply to information that is available in the public domain; they can be distributed freely and without any consequences. Some critics claim that plagiarising is all about attribution. Copying another's work without attribution is plagiarism, even if the work gets specifically cited. The rules of plagiarism protect ideas, no matter how generic or trivial they may be.

A Few Cases of Plagiarism

While plagiarism cases are common in schools and academia, there are plenty other instances where plagiarism is abundantly prevalent. No one is unaware of Madonna, the pop singer, and songwriter. She has gained huge success and has won several awards due to her edgy and catchy songs. But did you know that even the renowned singer and performer Madonna sparked controversy when media accused her of plagiarism? Salvatore Acquaviva, a songwriter from Belgium, accused Madonna of plagiarising part of his song "Ma Vie Fout L'camp" and using it in her hit song Frozen in 1998. The Belgian court upheld his claim, and Madonna was asked to withdraw her song for sale from the country.

Another plagiarism case that came to the spotlight was that of a Harvard sophomore student Kavya Viswanathan. Miss Viswanathan was on a high when she got a book deal for her novel "How Opal Mehta got kissed, Got Wild, and got a life." It wasn't until a reader noticed striking similarities between her book and the novels "Sloppy Firsts" and "Second Helpings" by author Megan F. McCafferty. The reader notified Miss McCafferty of the plagiarism and Viswanathan was exposed. Although not expelled from Harvard, her book deal which was worth half a million eventually was withdrawn.

Cases of plagiarism are not rare. In fact, traces of plagiarism can be found in almost every industry, from music to film to writing. A handbook stating the policy regarding plagiarism and its consequences by the University of Oregon was alleged and subsequently proved as directly copied from the Stanford University student handbook. Although defined as literary theft, people are still prone to take the risk, much unlike if it was thieving in the more traditional sense. Many famous artists have been known to plagiarise for their self-benefit by not crediting the source and gaining profit. The phenomenon is not a recent one and has occurred on numerous occasions.

How to Avoid Plagiarism?

One cannot emphasize enough that the basis to avoid plagiarism is attribution. Even making small changes while leaving the underlying content intact is counted as plagiarism. Within academic circles, the ethical policy prohibits copying even the 'intangible' ideas. Plagiarism comprehensively protects Illustrations, facts, and concepts produced by an author.

Crediting or attribution is the most comfortable and straightforward way to avoid plagiarism and its consequences. Acknowledging the source from which the information obtained and collected must happen carefully and precisely. It is also important to state the origin or place from where the text came through. Putting quotation marks when taking direct words and speech provides the suitable suggestion that the words belong to someone else and are not the source of the writing.


Plagiarism is despised because it allows the wrong party to benefit and sometimes gain profit that they have not earned. But some critics suggest that if the concept of fair use is applied, plagiarism can get overlooked. They argue that when accused of plagiarism, even before being found guilty, the person can suffer from huge loss. Their reputation suffers. Students accused of plagiarism are more often than not suspended or expelled from their school. Critics feel that the punishment is not fit for the crime. In essence, it cannot be considered as a crime, especially when the information obtained is in the public domain.

Information available in the public domain is free to be used and published. But many people are unclear about this concept. When do they know if the data is genuinely in the public domain? These vague and ambiguous instructions make following plagiarism norms hard, especially for students. Furthermore, the intention of the plagiarist is a topic of debate. What happens when the plagiarism is unintentional, and the accused did not intend to deceive anyone or gain unearned profit?


The essence of plagiarism is crediting or citing the source of the origin. It is all about acknowledgment. Although vague and unclear, it has become a norm in our society and one must follow the rules or face the consequences. Stealing someone else's creativity and originality and presenting it as your own is off limits and should be treated sternly. However, in some instances, the rules must not be as severe. Always give credit to the real source. Regardless of their triviality or generic nature, plagiarism protects all ideas and expressions.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions