According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of legal is something that a court of law regularizes. While paraphrasing is a common occurrence in the writing world, it’s not exactly illegal until someone uses it for illegal reasons.
For instance, paraphrasing copyrighted work and presenting it as your own will be considered illegal. However, the paraphrasing part in that process isn’t exactly against the law—the intention is. That’s the critical difference, but then again, it all depends on the context.
That’s why it requires us to understand what paraphrasing actually is and how writers do it. There is a way to ethically paraphrase content, which many schools teach students. That’s why it’s not precisely against any bylaws.
However, conditions still apply, and intention still comes into play. So, let’s dig deeper and understand what we know.
What Is Paraphrasing?
Paraphrasing is a practice that writers employ to reiterate or iterate something in better words. The change of certain words, structure, and sentences allows the writer to portray certain ideas in different words—compared to the original.
Contrary to popular belief, paraphrasing’s purpose isn’t to change original content. In fact, the practice of plagiarism is to help achieve better clarity in a given piece of content. However, this practice has translated into various objectives these days.
Some of which include:
- Avoiding Plagiarism
One of the key benefits of using proper paraphrasing techniques is to avoid plagiarism. By not quoting the original author, many writers can commit accidental plagiarism. In both academic and professional settings, writing tactics do include ethical paraphrasing.
- Academic Paraphrasing
Academic paraphrasing is something students learn from a young age. By taking ideas from a book or any other physical manuscripts, academies teach students how to paraphrase without plagiarism and quoting the original author.
- Paraphrasing In SEO
Search engine optimized content, aka blogs or articles, includes a lot of paraphrasing. In most cases, it is to avoid plagiarism. However, in many other cases, paraphrasing is to help achieve better simplicity or delivery of content.
Does It Count As Cheating?
The question of paraphrasing being considered cheating occurs when a writer doesn’t quote the originator of any given content. From not quoting the original author to not paraphrasing properly, it’s considered cheating in many academic and professional settings.
In SEO or online articles, plagiarism has no space, and any sort of duplicate content never makes search engine ranks. In academies, such paraphrasing is the cause of the student’s downfall. That’s why it’s imperative for writers to understand when paraphrasing counts as cheating.
That’s why here are three main instances to look out for:
- Not Quoting
Ethical or moral paraphrasing requires the writer to rephrase but still credit the original author. By not quoting the author, writers do not do any favor to their work, nor to the content’s originator. So, correctly quoting can void paraphrasing being counted as plagiarism.
- Not Changing Much
It won’t be ethical or acceptable if you rephrase a few lines here and there or just change a couple of words. That’s why it’s imperative to change content properly or rephrase it correctly. That way, you change good chunks of it and avoid plagiarism/cheating.
Patchwork is one of the most immoral kinds of paraphrasing plagiarism. In this practice, the writer only switches a couple of words from the original content—without accrediting the writer. So, if paraphrased content includes patchwork, then it’s cheating.
As we know now, doing paraphrasing with the wrong intent will cause plagiarism or cheating. However, learning to do it the proper way can help the writers avoid cheating. The only problem is, how do you know the difference?
Moreover, how do you formulate original ideas out of existing content? That’s why it’s a necessity for any writer today to learn the difference between ethical and unethical paraphrasing.
So, to avoid any plagiarism or legal troubles, here are a few things to keep in mind:
1. Learning The Difference
The difference between ethical and unethical paraphrasing is the intention and the final product. Suppose you’re changing a few words here and there, but the basis remains the same. In that case, the content will feature a substantial percentage of plagiarism.
Now, let’s say this is the original sentence:
“I went to see the famous movie with my father, when I was 5 years old.”
So, if you paraphrase it like this:
“When I was five, I went to a popular movie with my dad.”
That’s in no stretch original. The main problem is that the sentence has basically switched around with no virtual change. So, how do you do it properly?
Let’s use ParaphrasingTool.AI for assistance:
As you can see in the paraphrased sentence (marked in orange) is significantly different from the original one (marked in green). This is the kind of difference you should aim for when paraphrasing.
2. Forming Original Ideas
Sentences, passages, and paragraphs can be handled. However, if your ideas aren’t original, then you’re not going very far with essay or article writing. Not only will plagiarism get in the way, but unoriginality will also cause many problems.
So, let’s say you have an essay idea that you’re formed after a bit of research; how do you make it a 100% original?
This is an essay title idea, for instance:
“Improving Local Traffic: The Problems That Drivers Face Every Day”
It’s an original idea and might have stemmed from an essay writer’s personal issues with the local traffic. But, can we make it better and more original? Let’s find out with ParaphrasingTool.AI.
Once again, a little help from AI helped us improve our original idea (Grey). From a bit of redundancy to a proper title that actually sounds like an essay headline (Red).
Rephrasing content isn’t always easy, especially when writers are short on time. However, it’s still imperative to avoid it at all costs. But, then again, writers cannot rephrase thousands of words on the go; they will require assistance.
That’s when a tool like ParaphrasingTool.AI comes in handy. With the ability to rephrase over 1000 words right away, such AI-based tools can help you do that without any trouble.
So, let’s say we have a 100+ word passage that we need to rephrase quickly.
How will the paraphrasing tool bode with that? Let’s see for ourselves:
|I went to see a movie in the afternoon yesterday. It was a good thing, because when I got home I saw that the movie was in German, because I had forgotten my wordlist! Then there was this thing with my computer at home, but I didn’t have time to take a break and rest. And at 5pm I was going to go to the movie again!|
Anyway, I did it. I got up to do some stuff around the house, had some nice coffee, then I went to watch a movie. The movie was called “Mesmer”. It’s a historical movie about a magician.
|I went to the cinema yesterday afternoon. When I got home, I thought it was a German movie. I forgot the vocabulary! After that, my computer at home was the same, but there was no time to rest. And I went to the cinema again at 5pm!|
Anyway, I did.
I got up to do the housework, had a good coffee, and went to the movies. The title of this movie is “Mesmer”. This historical film is about a magician.
Within a few seconds, the tool helped us rephrase the majority of the content, exactly 106 words. On average, a writer would require at least 5-10 minutes to do this.
However, what’s important here is that this content will pass any duplicity check. Moreover, if you tweak it just enough, it will be ethical paraphrasing.
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4. Quoting & Citing
Citing correctly is yet another thing you need to work on. Besides understanding the originality of ideas and the correct way of rephrasing, it’s necessary that writers also focus on citing properly. One of the critical problems behind accidental plagiarism is the lack of citations.
Let’s say that you took an idea from a book, which then you rephrased into something like this:
“The experts claimed it was the worst drought the country has ever seen. However, the weather expert of the time said it was going to rain soon, so they had nothing to worry“
All these underlined words indicate the lack of context throughout this text. It demands the writer to clarify and tell the readers just who said about what. So, let’s try rephrasing it—this time with proper quotations:
“John Doe claimed that it was the worst drought the U.S has ever seen. However, Jane Doe at the time said it was going to rain in the summer so, the country had nothing to worry about”
We now have the context: John and Jane Doe, in this case, are the people who factually said it; the U.S is the country, whereas the rain was expected around the summertime.
So, it should accompany a citation like this at the end:
Doe, John. “The Chapter in Quotes” Book’s Name. Publisher Name, Year it was published. Page Numbers.
This proper quotation will help the reader know just the origins of the content—helping you avoid any unwanted plagiarism.
Paraphrasing In Academies
It’s imperative to understand the difference and employ all the aforementioned tactics to paraphrase legally—and without cheating. But, each paraphrasing type differs from the other, such as academic paraphrasing.
Some would say academic paraphrasing isn’t paraphrasing at all, as it requires the writer to present the idea with completely original words, in their own understanding of the subject. So, writers have their work cut out for them from research to producing information.
So, here’s how ethical paraphrasing in academies goes:
- Understanding The Subject
The first thing that any writer needs to do is research their subject properly. Bearing in mind that paraphrasing is only illegal if you take the credit of someone else’s work—and earn money from it. Therefore, there’s not much fear of that in the academic settings, except for failed grades.
However, it’s still imperative to ensure that you grasp the idea, which is the point of academic essay writing. So, that’s why a writer needs to start off strong.
The process includes a few fundamental essentials, such as:
- Researching various mediums such as books, the internet, or personal interviews with experts
- Taking notes, keeping critical information in mind, and written down to use in the essay
- Finding out the intricacies of the subject, opinions, variances, etc.
These key elements will help a writer gather just the right information to help them grasp the subject.
- Producing Information
Producing information or finding just the correct elements to fill in an essay isn’t exactly easy. However, it’s not exactly difficult either. Most essays require the writer to write about their opinion. Some of them might be as such:
- Traffic Rules: Why They’re Not Ideal In L.A
- How To Abide The Californian Traffic Laws
- Tackling L.A’s Traffic Trouble
All these subjects include traffic problems in and around the L.A County. Now, that could be a problem for even a Californian native. However, paraphrasing such information is a significant part of writing academic essays—hence one must do it.
- Writing Content
Then comes the part where the writer begins writing. Once again, they can use ParaphrasingTool.AI to help them out. For instance, if a writer doesn’t know where to begin, they can simply take one of the topics above and put it in AI Content Generator from Paraphrasingtool.ai.
Notice how the AI generator has formulated a remarkable opening to the essay. Since this AI-based tool only creates original content, you don’t have to worry about paraphrasing it.
Paraphrasing In Online Settings
Compared to academic writing, professional writing allows you to go back on duplicate content and fix it. Aside from some very lousy writers, not many professionals intentionally commit plagiarism. That’s why paraphrasing in professional settings is straightforward.
Here’s a proper way of doing it:
- Research The Subject
Thoroughly research the topic that you wish to rephrase. This will allow you to grasp key information that you will have to fill in throughout the articles, blogs, etc. Most of all, remember Google is your best friend.
- Forming An Opinion
Articles and online content of various other kinds depend a lot on the writer’s opinion. Even if the opinion is collective, it needs to be original. So, you will have to thoroughly understand the subject then form your opinion.
- Presenting An Argument: Leading With Facts
If you write research papers in the academy, then writing in professional settings won’t be a problem. Consequently, you will have to paraphrase accordingly. Make sure you lead the argument with facts by rephrasing it into your original words.
Conclusion: Is It Illegal Then?
Paraphrasing is by no stretch illegal, but it can be unethical if used incorrectly. It can cause more harm than good if the writer does it with bad intentions.
Moreover, writers might even face a lawsuit in some cases if the paraphrased work was protected by intellectual property laws. So, it’s neither illegal nor cheating, but it requires you to do it correctly.
Asad is a professional content writer with commendable SEO skills. He has a strong grip on paraphrasing and has developed Paraphrasing Tool with help of NLP and GPT models.
He has 04 years experience of testing and developing writing tools including plagiarism checker, grammar checker and AI content generator.