With Stuvia you can buy or sell summaries quickly and easily. You can save time studying or earn money from your knowledge when selling your content. But when is a summary based on your own knowledge and not someone else’s? How do you know when sharing is caring and not stealing? Let’s look at the terms Copyright and Plagiarism in order to explain.

Stuvia Tip: Use the Copyright Checklist when writing your documents. This is how you ensure that you write the best possible notes and avoid plagiarism.


Every piece of original work contains copyright. That applies to books, but also to lecture notes and summaries. The copyright dictates that the author can decide on the exploitation of the document and protects the author against potential misconduct from others.

Summaries and copyright

You get the copyright of a document as soon as you write a text in your own words, such as a summary. Nevertheless, sometimes a summary can still contain copyright-protected work. For example, when you copy parts of someone’s (original) work without stating the source, you break copyright law and enable the author to demand compensation.

How to write a summary based on the copyright

By citing and paraphrasing you can use parts of original work without breaking copyright laws. In other words: write a summary in your own words, and if that’s impossible for some parts of the text, cite or paraphrase and clearly state the source of the quote. You’re allowed to always copy facts, but be sure to put these into your own words as well, and include the source of the fact. Learn more about plagiarism here.

How to avoid plagiarism?

How to avoid plagiarism?

Plagiarism is the copying of ideas from others without giving them credit. As soon as you copy anything from someone without referring to the copyright-protected work, you commit plagiarism.
You should never just copy something, because that violates copyright law and makes you guilty of plagiarism. Always be sure to write in your own words. A recommended approach is to first read the original text in full until you understand it clearly. You then put the original text away and start writing your own version using your own words.

Whenever you need to use original work, you can cite or paraphrase:


When you use citations, you literally write verbatim what someone has previously said or written. You place this text between quotation marks and include the source. The appropriate length for a citation is approximately up to four sentences.


Paraphrasing is a different wording of a sentence or text. You paraphrase when the original text is overly complicated or dense or to distill the meaning of a larger body of text. By paraphrasing, you can maintain your own writing style and the text becomes much more accessible. Of course you will always include the original source of information.

How does Stuvia deal with copyright and plagiarism?

How does Stuvia deal with copyright and plagiarism?

We find it crucial that sharing is caring and not stealing. That’s why you are only permitted to upload documents to Stuvia for which you hold the copyright and are not faulty of plagiarism. When you share a document on Stuvia, you remain in the possession of the copyright on the document and can control what happens with the document. You can always edit, delete, sell or offer your document for free on our platform. Stuvia is therefore not responsible for the exchange of documents.

No returning costs

Copyright Checklist:

  • The source of the original text is shown in the document.
  • The summary is written in your own words.
  • Copied text is cited or paraphrased.
  • Facts are sourced and in your own words.
  • Sources are clearly and easily readable.