​Is it Plagiarism to Pay Someone to Write for Me?

Don't I Own That Work?

Paying someone to write your paper, whether it’s a fellow student or an essay mill, is a form of plagiarism and is usually considered one of the most serious by teachers and administrators alike.

That’s because a teacher doesn’t just assign a paper to have you produce one, the goal of the assignment is to showcase your understanding of the subject, your ability to communicate that information and how well you analyze and draw conclusions from it.

In short, essays are designed to test your skills as a student and, if you simply pay someone else to write that paper, it is impossible for your teacher to evaluate your understanding or your progress.

Despite this, many still claim that since the use was “allowed” by the original author that it is ethically acceptable. After all, it’s a case of “victimless” plagiarism.

But even if we ignore the issues about what the goals of the assignment are and how cheating on such an assignment hurts you as a student, there are other victims to be considered.

First, by turning in a paper you paid for, you are lying to your teacher. When you place your name on top of your paper or on the cover sheet, you are saying that everything in that paper, unless specifically cited, is your work.

If you pay someone to write the paper, that is clearly untrue.

Second, other students in the class did the work and are earning a grade based on their efforts. They chose not to pay someone to write their paper, either out of ethical concerns or fear of punishment, and are at a disadvantage to someone who simply paid for their paper.

But while buying an essay is definitely a form of cheating, it’s very likely that you won’t end up owning the essay that you “bought”.

The reason for that is because, under copyright law, buying a work doesn’t necessarily transfer copyright into it, much like how buying a DVD doesn’t make you the owner of the film.

Copyright in a work, whether it is a paper, song or film, resides with the author of the work. Unless that work is by an employee of a company or the author has signed a contract (which must be in writing), the copyright in the work stays with the author.

Since just buying an essay doesn’t make the author an employee, you don’t own the work unless you have a contract transferring copyright in it. While the person has agreed to let you use, it’s still, legally, their work.

As such, they can turn the paper in themselves, sell it to other students, post it online or do nearly anything they want with it.

Buying a paper does not make it your work, neither for the assignment it’s submitted for nor in the eyes of the law.

When it comes to buying essays, your best bet is to save your money and do the work yourself.