Identify the ethical responsibilities of authors. Understand intellectual property and copyright.
In order to avoid inadvertent plagiarism or academic dishonesty, you must understand intellectual property and copyright. In our digital age, where users can easily download information, we must consider these issues from an ethical perspective as well.
“The ease of saving images off of the web has caused a very real problem for artists and content providers alike. If you have placed your intellectual property on the web chances are that sooner or later someone is going to ‘borrow’ a little bit of it… without your permission.” -Linda Cole
Intellectual Property (IP) refers to a document or ideas owned by authors, publishers, and corporations. IP is anything that reflects an original thought that is written down or expressed in any media, such as word-processed documents, emails, Web sites, and music. Simply put, what you create is your “intellectual property.” Graphics, songs, poems, pictures, and essays are examples of “properties” that are owned by their creators, properties that are subject to U.S. and international copyright laws.
Intellectual Property Resources
Copyright refers to the laws that protect your ownership of property (whether or not you file a formal copyright application). Plagiarism refers to the theft of someone’s intellectual property. According to the U.S. Copyright Office,
Copyright is a form of protection provided by the laws of the United States (title 17, U.S.Code) to the authors of “original works of authorship” including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works. (U.S. Copyright Office, Copyright Basics, Circular 1).
Copyright refers to the laws that protect the creator’s intellectual property. Copyright laws allow you (as the creator) certain rights. You can:
- Reproduce the work in copies such as books or CDs.
- Prepare a derivative work. For example, if you write a book or short story, only you can create a play or movie from that story. (Of course, you can sell these rights if you so desire.)
- Distribute copies of your work to the public by sales or other methods. You get to perform or display the work publicly (e.g., plays, music, or dance performances).
- iCopyright : “Our goal is to put the iCopyright icon on every Web page—and give it intelligence. It will “know” about the content it sits on. It will help publishers protect, license, and track their intellectual property. It will give credit to the people who created it. It will help Internet users obtain the proper license to reprint or reuse copyrighted works in the format they desire.”
- Privacy in the Online Classroom : Article that explores reasons to limit access and restriction methods
- Chilling Effects Clearinghouse : Written by students at UC Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law, “These pages will help you understand the protections intellectual property laws and the First Amendment give to your online activities. We are excited about the new opportunities the Internet offers individuals to express their views, parody politicians, celebrate their favorite movie stars, or criticize businesses.”
- Intellectual Property Law: This site “provides information about intellectual property law including patent, trademark and copyright. Resources include comprehensive links, general information, space for professionals to publish articles and forums for discussing related issues.”
- Gigalaw.com : Excellent resource for information on intellectual property and copyright.
- Copyright Myths : Wonderful, easy-to-understand, rich essay on copyright. If you’re going to read just one essay on copyright, read this one!