This week was eye-opening and helped me realize how little I actually knew about copyrighting qualifications and laws. As an English teacher, I am already aware of the lack of understanding when it comes to plagiarism. This is something that many people in my department avoid and pass on to students, but I have also seen many teachers, some in but most out of my department, plagiarizing others’ works. Copyright laws, on the other hand, seem to have been abused by almost every single teacher I know, including myself. I do not believe either of these is done with malicious intent, but it is instead due to ignorance. It is important for educators to have a complete understanding of copyright and plagiarism guidelines not only to make sure they do not face legal actions, but to also make sure they are preparing their students to be responsible digital citizens.
Determining the differences between plagiarism and copyright infringement was critical for me this week. Defining and avoiding plagiarism is much easier than doing the same for copyright infringement. This is because it can be simply defined as using the “original work or works of another and presenting it as your own” (Bailey, 2013). Ethically, this should never happen because it is dishonest and a simple form of cheating when it comes to academics. Copyright infringement on the other hand is when someone reproduces, imitates, distributes, or publicly displays something that is copyrighted without permission (Bailey, 2013). One of the many common myths that contributes to teachers illegally using outside resources is that using materials for education is an exception to the law, “but it [is] not automatically in all cases” (Bringham Young University, 2017). The reality is that there are other factors that must be understood in order to use copyrighted materials without permission.
There are two major laws that specifically help educators when it comes to using copyrighted materials without actually requesting permission: fair use and the TEACH Act. The four factors of fair use are purpose, nature, amount, and effect, all of which need to be considered by educators before using copyrighted materials (dschrimsher, 2010). If a teacher wishes to use unoriginal materials, they can evaluate what is going to be used with these four factors to see if they can do so legally. The TEACH Act also provides someone the right to digitize materials for the sake of education (Piculell, 2013). This is especially important as the world of education continues to develop and use the Internet as a form of hybrid or extended classrooms. Online learning is a growing trend and being able to supply materials to online students legally is equally as important as doing so with those involved in traditional classrooms.
The surplus of information transferred over the Internet is something that has drastically changed the way people exist in the United States, and it has made it much easier for people to steal intellectual property (TEDx Talks, 2011). If learning were to occur in a classroom without using these resources, it would be at a much less effective rate. For this reason, it is essential that teachers learn to effectively use copyrighted materials, avoid plagiarism, and teach our students to do the same so they can be responsible digital citizens.
Bailey, J. (2013, October). The Difference Between Copyright Infringement and Plagiarism. Retrieved from https://www.plagiarismtoday.com/2013/10/07/difference-copyright-infringement-plagiarism/
Bringham Young University. (2017). Copyright basics. Retrieved from https://sites.lib.byu.edu/copyright/about-copyright/basics/
dschrimsher. (2010, February 7). Fair use photo story.wmv [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vxGiV6iKw_g
Piculell, A. (2013, April 25). TEACH Act- dmf [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=flvmGgyJvEI
TEDx Talks. (2011, July 5). TEDxGoodenoughCollege- Lettie Ransley- copyright in the digital age [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qmDeBYosaJU