Plagiarism is no joke, especially in the world of academia.
There's a reason that so many schools and colleges spend countless hours every year drilling their students on the ethics of academic research and the strict guidelines when it comes to originality and plagiarism. Despite that, it still occurs with alarming frequency because there is always someone who thinks they won't get caught.
Things in academia often move pretty slow, and if the research is obscure enough there's actually a chance you could get away with it. That said, the consequences for getting caught are pretty dire, as this unscrupulous professor came to realize all too well.
Plagiarism is not limited to just the world of academics either. Pop culture is simply rife with it, as seen in this CBS show that plagiarized 'Bones'