During their training to become teachers, did they have lessons on copyright? Here's the reality today: most teachers have not received this training. However, a teacher who fails to cite their sources is a bit like a mother yelling at her child to stop screaming. It's tolerated, but is it really effective and reasonable?


Reminder of the definition of plagiarism


Plagiarism is defined as the duplication of a work without indicating the author. Plagiarism may or may not be intentional.

Aix-Marseille University has identified several forms of plagiarism on its page "Plagiarism, copyright, paraphrasing, copying/pasting, etc.":

  • "the infamous ctrl+C / ctrl+V" or "copying/pasting"
  • the no-less-infamous paraphrase: rephrasing another's ideas using your own words
  • self-plagiarism, using your own work from a previous assignment


All without ever citing the original source.

And plagiarism can pertain to any type of original work:

  • a text, a text's translation
  • an image, photograph, painting, graphic, etc.
  • encrypted data
  • a course which the professor has not given permission to cite


Teachers' respect of copyright


The pedagogical exception granted to teachers

Does plagiarism apply to teachers?

In practical terms, teachers implicitly share knowledge that they themselves have acquired from their peers. Thus, it is tolerated that teachers will not always mention their sources in their courses. Authors are paid according to a flat rate that the Ministry pays to the authors' copyright management companies.

On the other hand, teachers cannot use these works for any audience other than their students. For this reason, it is forbidden to publish a work on the school's website, for example, without having asked the author or publisher for permission.

In addition, teachers cannot copy more than 10% of a work (except for images and short texts).

Article L122-5 of the French Intellectual Property Code defines the pedagogical exception for the use of copyrighted works:

"Once a work has been disclosed, the author may not prohibit:
e) The reproduction or performance of a work extract or musical score, used as an illustration for an educational purpose, in the context of teaching and research, including the development and dissemination of subjects for examinations and assignments organised as an extension of teaching, to the exclusion of any recreational activity or entertainment, as long as this reproduction or performance is intended, especially via a digital medium, for an audience comprised mainly of students, teachers or researchers directly involved in the learning, training or research activity requiring this reproduction or performance, and provided that it is not the subject of any publication or dissemination to a third party besides the audience thus constituted"


The secret plagiarism of dissertation advisors


The second form of plagiarism is much more serious: the theft of a student-researcher's work by their teacher-advisor.


A student-researcher needs a dissertation director to guide them in writing their doctoral thesis. A teacher-advisor is the ideal candidate to fill this role. Indeed, the advisor also wants to deepen their knowledge in a specific field. The pair works very well together usually. However, one practice has been overlooked: the theft of the student-researcher's work by the teacher-researcher. The doctoral student feels indebted to their mentor for their guidance in completing their work successfully. Most students feel that "it's part of the game" to give their research to their dissertation director. However, this is a form of plagiarism. There are no statistics to assess the scope of this practice, nor the harm it causes.


Solutions to ensure integrity among teachers


Integrity in all courses


university plagiarism teachers

The teacher has the right to use quotations and research to carry out their profession.

However, integrity is also learned by imitation. It is easier for students to understand how to cite their sources if all their teachers do so for all their sources. To promote knowledge sharing and prompt students to develop good habits, we invite teachers to cite authors when:

  • Sharing slides between colleagues,
  • Reusing students' work,
  • Using visual media (images, graphics, videos)
  • Taking instructions for an exercise from a book
  • Citations...

 A little line of text or footnote is all it takes.

Pledge signed by students and teachers


At the start of each school year, one effective method to ensure copyright is respected is to have students and teachers sign an anti-plagiarism charter or code of honour. These documents define plagiarism and explain the different forms of copying/pasting and methods for preventing it. This sets a clear framework, so everyone knows the academic institution's policy. Committing to respect intellectual property is a strong step toward maintaining diplomas' value.


Educating students and teachers about copyright


Copyright is not always easy to understand. What could be better than training teaching staff and students to ensure that everyone has the same basic knowledge in this area? Compilatio offers several topics to guide academic institutions in the prevention of plagiarism:

academic plagiarism lecturers
Explore Educating about plagiarism Ask for the training catalogue

A teacher hopes to shape respectful students who embody integrity. To this end, the teacher must lead by example. They teach academic skills and also, more subtly, life skills. Students need to understand how what they've learned coheres in order to put this learning into practice. Academic integrity involves students as well as teachers, and the value of diplomas and quality of education depend on it.

In conclusion, training about copyright is essential to avoid plagiarism, for students as much as for teachers and future educators.

Sources :

Aix-Marseille University, "Plagiarism, copyright, paraphrasing, copying/pasting, etc."

Website ESPE de l'Académie de Lyon, page "Culture Numérique de l'enseignant - Droits et obligations"

Article L122-5 of the French Intellectual Property Code

Website Centre français d'exploitation du droit de copie, "Comment utiliser des extraits de textes et d'images dans le respect du droit d'auteur ?"