Copyright Violation & Plagiarism

If nothing else this question brought to Listmembers’ attention the sometimes sticky relationship between two worlds often problematically opposed -- one legal/corporate and the other educational/academic. While the two worlds might occasionally meet in battles waged over copyrights, most participants in this sub-thread agreed that copyright violations and plagiarism, though sometimes related, are quite different beasts, as evidenced by the fact that, if nothing else, behaviors normally regarded with disdain in the academic world are treated less seriously in the business world. On this point Ron Shook claimed that "what we call plagiarism, borrowing, stealing, using, is simply not looked on with the same horror that it is in the academic world…. In business you will hear more on copyright infringement than on plagiarism. And no, they are not the same thing." On this latter point, John McLaughlin disagreed:

When the form is copyrighted – as in an article bylined by a writer but owned by a publisher – then there’s not a dime’s worth of legal distinction between violation of copyright, plagiarism, and stealing to any ambulance chaser. When somebody plagiarizes a dissertation from a published source under copyright – and uses that stolen work – yes it is – to get an academic reward such as a job…, then other ears prick right up, even if the relativism of reaction among some academics is an interesting post-modern or whatever phenomenon.
Ron Shook’s subsequent response clarified the difference between theft in the legal sense and intellectual thievery in the academic sense:
Copyright violation is against the law. Plagiarism is occasion for moral outrage. It is certainly true that a plagiarist can commit copyright infringement. But what happens when for instance, I lift wholesale information that is either in the public domain or which has had the copyright lapse? I’m plagiarizing but not infringing on a copyright. In those cases, the objection is moral/ethical rather than legal.
Agreeing that there is a "distinct line between plagiarism and copyright infringement," Ilyssa Green followed up on this post with the reminder that in some cases, "plagiarism is punishable through legal means." In a statement that highlights the problematic nature of this debate, Green admitted: "This can be somewhat confusing to anyone…."