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Helping Students Respect Copyright Law

Modified on: Tue, Jul 28, 2015 at 2:17 PM

Be a role model. Demonstrate within your web-based instruction how to use others' published and unpublished materials, as well as student contributions, on the web. Know about copyright law and what constitutes intellectual property. Cite sources and attributions appropriately. Have your students complete a permission form at the beginning of the course, allowing use of their ideas, writings, etc. online.

Include information in your syllabus about intellectual property and academic honesty. Students frequently refer to a course syllabus as the initial guide to what is required (and important) within a course. By placing short statements about your expectations for academic honesty as well as how the class should adhere to copyright law, you will provide follow-up reinforcement about these topics.

Explain to students where and how you obtained your online resources or examples. Discuss with them the concepts of plagiarism and intellectual property rights. Help students to understand the difference between citing and showing sources in the classroom versus copying/publishing materials in print or on the web. Mention those resources requiring that you obtain permission for the web. If students plan to place their work online, and if they will be using graphics, etc. that they didn’t create, then help them know how to request permissions. Show them what a request and a letter of permission look like. If time allows, talk about the consequences of infringement.

Discuss the issues associated with online "paper mills" that allow students to copy (plagiarize) work instead of creating their own. Discuss the available resources. Discuss the extrinsic and intrinsic consequences for those who choose that route for completing assignments. For some classes, you may want to let students know that you take this seriously and will be randomly checking their work.

Help students understand ways to use resources without needing copyright permission. Provide students with examples of linking to web resources. Provide students with models for summarizing or referencing others\' work or ideas without copying or infringing on the author\'s rights. Discuss the use of public domain documents as a resource.

Discuss with students the role that libraries are able to play in helping access electronic reference materials. Provide students with guidelines regarding how you would like them to work with the library in listing web resources within their work. Provide models of how to appropriately reference web resources.

Provide students with resources that further explain the details (and examples) for adhering to copyright law. Examples of those sites might include any of the following:

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