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Scholastic Art & Writing Awards - Alliance for Young Artists & Writers


Copyright & Plagiarism

Be You! Be Original!

We want what you have!

The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards may be an awards program, but first and foremost, it’s a celebration of you: your hard work, your unique talents, and your originality! A Gold Key is not the only award we give; another comes long before the National Ceremony at Carnegie Hall when our jurors, world-renowned artists and writers meet you through what you’ve made. It’s your chance to be taken seriously as an artist or a writer, as an individual with a personal voice or vision that belongs to you and you alone.

The Awards hold you to the same standards as professional artists and writers. This doesn’t mean we expect you to spend a decade perfecting a manuscript before sending it out, or to jumpstart a new art movement that completely changes the world. All we ask is that you be yourself! We value originality above all else, and this means no awards can be given to work that is not your own.

There is no formula to receiving an Award. We want you to surprise us, challenge us, let us into your world. In almost 100 years, there’s only one thing we’ve never seen: You! And this is all we want!

So before entering any work to the Awards, make sure it adheres to the plagiarism and copyright guidelines below.

A Guide on Plagiarism and Copyright for Students & Educators

Work that is submitted to the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards must be original work created by the student. By participating in the Awards, students agree to the Scholastic Awards participation terms

If a submitted work is found to have been copied from another artist or writer or is plagiarized, the work will be disqualified from the Scholastic Awards. 

To avoid this from happening, please review these guidelines before submitting your work. 

How do I know if my work is original?

An original work is one that is new and different from what others have created. This means that you are the author of the work, and the work is not copied from someone else’s original work. Even if there is no exact or literal copying, but the average person may notice substantial similarities between the submitted work and the source material, it is possible that the work is not considered original and should not be submitted to the Awards.  

We understand that artists and writers sometimes create work that references other artists, writers, and popular culture in original and meaningful ways. If your work transforms some sort of source material, then it may be considered original. 

We define transformative work as a new work that adds value, substantially changes, comments on, or gives a new expression or meaning to the source. If the submission uses another artist or writer’s work as raw material and transforms the original work by bringing new insights and understandings to the piece, it may be submitted to the Scholastic Awards. 

Here are some examples of work that should not be submitted:

  • A pencil drawing that directly copies a portrait that was taken by another artist or a piece of writing that simply rearranges the words of someone else’s writing is NOT transformative. 
  • Changing the medium or visual style of another artist’s work is NOT considered transformative. For example, a painting or drawing of a photograph taken from the internet or a magazine is not considered original and should not be submitted to the Scholastic Awards. 
  • Creating a painting or digital artwork based on a photo that was taken by someone else, or creating a poem by rearranging the lyrics to a song—does NOT make the work transformative. 
  • Cropping or resizing an image that a friend created or that you found on the internet does NOT make the work transformative. 
  • Changing the order of the lines in a poem or adding a few words to a sentence written by another author is NOT transformative. 
  • Fan art (such as a painting or drawing of an actor, musician, or preexisting character) or fan fiction is NOT considered original work and should not be submitted.  
  • A critical essay that copies or paraphrases passages from another piece of writing without citing the source is NOT original work. Paraphrasing, which is restating text by another writer using other words, does NOT make the work transformative. 
  • Even if you have permission to use a work or if the work is in the public domain, the work that you submit to the Scholastic Awards must represent a new, original work.

These examples are simply for guidance and they are not meant to represent all instances of non-transformative work. 

What if I cite my sources? Can I use another person’s work if I give them credit? 

You may use limited portions of another’s work if you cite your source and if the final product is still an original idea. Written works that take quotations from other pieces of writing should properly cite all sources. For example, you can quote another author in a critical essay if you cite the author in the Works Cited section of your submission. 

There is no formula, specific number of words, or percentage of someone else’s work that is acceptable to use when submitting your work to the Scholastic Awards. What is important is that your finished work is something new and different from your source. 

If you have any doubt about whether a submission is original, we advise that you choose not to submit that work. 

Consequences of Copyright & Plagiarism Violations 

If the Alliance has reason to believe that a submission violates the participation terms, an investigation into the submission will be opened, which could lead to disqualification. In this event, the Alliance may refuse or revoke the grant of an award, and take such other measures, including the recall or removal of all awards for works submitted during the program year, as the Alliance deems appropriate. Bear in mind that this policy is in the interest of both the student and the Alliance, since the display or distribution of an infringing submission could result in financial liability for both the student and the Alliance. 

What if I find a work that was submitted to the Scholastic Awards that isn’t original? 

If you suspect that a work was copied from another source or was plagiarized, please let us know by emailing us at We will investigate to determine if the work violates our participation terms. Because of student privacy concerns, we will not follow-up with you to report on the outcome of our investigation.

Copyright & Plagiarism Protocol

Tips for Preventing Copyright & Plagiarism Violations

  • Educators and students are responsible for educating themselves on copyright and plagiarism issues. This page is only a guide. There is no formula for creating an original work. 
  • For both visual and written submissions, always cite all sources, whether the source is protected by copyright or not. 
  • No number of words or percentage of a source can be safely assumed to render a work original. 
  • Educators: if a classroom assignment involves any copying of another artist or writer’s work, even if it’s just for the purpose of practicing and learning, please direct students not to submit these works to the Scholastic Awards. 
  • The Alliance for Young Artists & Writers uses the following definitions for Copyright and Plagiarism: 
    • Copyright is a form of legal protection prohibiting others from copying one’s creative work without permission. A copyright is a property right. Copyright law grants the creator of an original work the exclusive rights for its use and distribution. 
    • Plagiarism is an ethical violation resulting from failure to cite sources and engaging in the act of passing someone else’s work or ideas off as one’s own. This applies even if you have only copied a part, rather than the whole, of another’s work.