Essays and Plagiarism: Fair Use Policy for Custom Samples

Essays and Plagiarism: Fair Use Policy for Custom Samples

Too much good-or-bad and right-or-wrong thinking can be dangerous, since things often are neither black nor white. The world we live in has countless different shades that make up the beauty of life.
That’s why, when we speak about using free essays for reference purposes, we need to avoid extremes. Stealing someone’s ideas and passing them off as your own is obviously wrong. However, when it comes to ghostwriting, the evaluation can’t be that blunt.

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What if a retired professor is bored and wants to help students do homework as a ghostwriter? It’s not plagiarism anymore. The professor gives his consent to share his knowledge and ideas. In this case, using sample essays and plagiarism have nothing in common. If a person agrees to offer ideas, refusing his/her authorship, there’s nothing wrong with it, provided that you do not claim these ideas as your own.

What Is Plagiarism?

According to, plagiarism is “an act or instance of using or closely imitating the language and thoughts of another author without authorization and the representation of that author’s work as one’s own, as by not crediting the original author.”

All modern plagiarism detection tools are limited to finding instances of plagiarism in this broad context. Despite the variety of techniques used, all plagiarism detectors simply match strings of words with identical excerpts in their databases. For example, Copyscape and Plagium are based on search engines that look for matches on the web. Turnitin, which is used by the most educational institutions, has its own extensive database, with 12+ billion pages of digital content.

However, custom essays that are written from scratch especially for you are not on those databases. This means that, technically, modern plagiarism checkers are unable to detect instances of plagiarism in custom essays.

What Is Ghostwriting?

From a certain ethical point of view, using custom-made academic materials is not stealing. It is ghostwriting, using writing without crediting the original author, who gives full consent. It means that ghostwriters readily sell their intellectual property, just as they would a car or a house.
Whereas plagiarism is undeniably wrong and unethical, things are not so black and white when it comes to ghostwriting. Examples of ghostwriting can be found in different fields, from politics to literature and scientific research.
The best known examples include

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  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (a ghostwriter: Truman Capote). The legend said that the two authors co-authored the novel, though it’s attributed to Lee only. Even though a recent computerized text analysis has shown that the novel was written by Lee only, the debate still goes on.
  • The question of the works credited to Shakespeare may be another example of ghostwriting.

If we refer to the result of research creative writing as property, and if the author has the right to own it, then why can’t he or she sell it as well?

Fair Use Policy for Custom Samples

At the same time, things become more complicated because of the expectations of your instructors. Academic institutions expect that every word in your written assignments is yours. This means that using ghostwriting services can be regarded as misconduct, not from the point of view of the original author, but your academic code of conduct.
That’s why the main principles of fair use of essays are needed to avoid plagiarism:

  • Essay samples can be used for research purposes only;
  • essays can inspire you and boost your research;
  • if you decide to include word-for-word citation, be sure to give credit to the original source;
  • both quotation marks and a source are needed if you use a direct quote;
  • only a source is enough if you carefully paraphrase an idea.

Custom samples are a more effective alternative to unreliable lecture notes and working through literature that proves to be irrelevant. Neither plagiarism nor copyright infringement is involved in using essays from ghostwriters in these ways. However, you should observe the main principles of fair use to avoid any possible trouble with your academic institution.


Ivy Panda

Hi Colonel,

Thanks for your kind words and for taking the time to leave this comment! Please let me know if you have any questions.

Tyesha Taj

Thanks, great post.

Ivy Panda

Hi Tyesha,

Thanks for your feedback. I hope it will be useful for you!