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Friday, October 10, 2008

Who Takes the Blame for Plagiarsim?

A couple posts previously, I mentioned information about the need for schools to employ Turnitin because of plagiarism. In keeping with this topic and students' overwhelming submission of plagiarized materials, I found this article to be informative and interesting. The author, Nate Anderson, discusses points of a speech from Baroness Deech who runs the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education in the United Kingdom. This agency handles student complaints against university decsions dealing with copyright issues, so Deech gets a first-hand look at these issues.

Anderson begins by mentioning the burgeoning problem of student plagiarism partially due to electronic databases that make it so easy to cut and paste and students growing up in a "Rip, mix, burn" society. Then he asks if it is totally the students' fault and brings in Deech's thesis that teachers and technology have an equal share in the blame. How's this, you ask?

In her speech, Deech mentions (criticizes?) the teaching methods of university teachers. She says that students seem to have expectations that information will be handed to them, often because teachers simplify lectures and complex lessons down to "three bullet points" in a PowerPoint. Instead, she encourges that students take their own notes and limit computer usage for research.

Anderson, also an educator, says he is surprised by the number of students who have forgotten how to even locate books on a shelf and the mentality that if it's not accessible through Google, it's not worth finding. He mentions his dismay at some of the websites that "students consider authoritative." Couple that with students who are poor writers, procrastinators or lazy and it's the perfect recipe for copyright disaster.

Regardless of who might be to blame or contributing to the problem, Anderson makes the claim, and rightly so, that students are still ultimately responsible. Students always have the choice whether to create original works or not.

My questions to you: How well do you feel your college professors advocated - verbally or by example - researching, curiosity, and originality?

Do you feel your professors' methods made you any more aware of copyright issues?

Anderson, N. (2006, October 20). Are teachers and computers responsible for plagiarism?
Retrieved from, http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20061020-8041.html

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Do We Have One?

I finished my last post by saying I wasn't sure if the library I work for has a copyright policy or not. Just in case anyone is interested, I did ask my library director if we have a copyright policy. She looked a bit surprised and said, "Not one written down, but everyone knows the basic rules, so I don't see a problem."

Anyone out there take issue with this mentality after all we've learned thus far?!?

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Does Your School Need a Copyright Policy?

So, who needs a copyright policy? We all know that there are laws and regulations to comply with, right? Well, when we consider the purpose of a policy, which is to have guidelines set in place before an incident happens, no matter the type of institution or regulations we're dealing with, it shows the need to institute a full written policy. We don't make policies hoping that something will go wrong, we just have them in place as a guide to set things straight or if necessary, to use as ammunition in a legal battle.

So, what does a policy consist of? In our text, Copyright for Schools, Carol Simpson says that of utmost importance is a statement of a school's intention to abide by copyright laws. (2005) She also mentions the Association for Information Media and Equipment (AIME), which is the "king" of copyright law advocates, publishes an information packet with policy-making tips and guidelines. She notes a few key points that should be included in any institution's policy:
  1. Intent to abide by the letter and spirit of copyright law.
  2. Cover all types of materials and media.
  3. Liability for noncompliance rests with the user.
  4. The district mandates training for all personnel who might make copies.
  5. The user must be able to provide justification for use.
  6. The district appoints a copyright officer. (Simpson 2005)

These are only very skeletal suggestions, and I've even pared down from the information in the text, but it's a good beginning framework for policy. As noted in numbers 3 and 5, heavy responsibility is laid on the end user. It's become more and more evident as I read and research copyright, there is never a time that the words, "but I didn't know" will be acceptable.

I think I'll check on what my library of employment has in the way of copyright policy and if nothing is in place, make some suggestions for beginning one. If there is one, I guess I need to familiarize myself with it!