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Copyright Laws: Crucial Aspects

Introduction

Ethics is a term used to basically mean right or wrong. It covers a wide range of disciplines but we are going to concentrate on computer ethics and copyright laws as well as academic ethics. In today’s society there is disregard of computer and academic ethics. Though it may have little impact on the people copying, it creates harm to the creators and this result to a non innovative society (Coates, Suzor and Fitzgerald, 2007).

Copyright can be defined as laws that are used to govern the way the work of another author or creator is used. It does not only entail copying but also displaying and distributing other people’s work. Any creative work should therefore have a contract indicating the copyright owner as the original creator unless stated otherwise. Copyright cannot apply in an idea that is in somebody’s mind hence cannot be protected (Hughes, 2005).

Plagiarism is an act of copying or quoting a text from another author without acknowledging the act. Another author’s work in a text can be acknowledged by providing bibliographic citation or by indicia of a quotation. Indicia of a quotation entails either using quotation marks in a text or indicating a quoted text using a block indented single spaced format. Bibliographic citation comes in different styles. However, each style should have at least the author. Just like copying or burning someone’s videos, music or games, plagiarism is wrong (Armstrong and Franklin, 2008).

Copyright laws are therefore established in order to protect any work meant for computer use and intellectual purposes. Failure to adhere to these laws is referred to as copyright infringement and can result in penalties from both copyright organizations and private institutions. In addition, the laws promote a creative and innovative society (Thompson, 2007).

Copyright Laws

The United States plays a major role in protecting the original works of people. It does so by providing laws as stated in Title 17 of U.S code. Intellectual works, artistic and literary works are among the works protected by these laws. In addition, they protect both printed and non printed works. The copyright Act of 1976 gives the owner of the original work exclusive rights. In the section 106 of the Act allows the owners to copy and record their works and to distribute to the public. In case of works that requires performance and display such as music and drama and other visual arts, the Act allows the authors to display the work in the public. Moreover, the author has a right to allow other people to do the same or even transfer the ownership (Fraser, 2010).

The U.S requires every author to register his/her work with the copyright laws office. The rights stipulated by this body should not be violated under any circumstance. Any one found with this offence is penalized according to these laws. However, there are some exceptions. Fair use is one such exception and is given a statutory in the same Act. It entails a compulsory license in which permission is granted on works once agreements have been made and all conditions fulfilled (Buchanan and Campbell, 2005).

University of Maryland’s Academic Integrity Policy

Plagiarism is the deliberate copying of another person’s words and original ideas and making them to be yours without any attribution in relation to academic integrity. It is a form of cheating from the students. The University of Maryland like any other academic institution condemns this act. It does so by establishing a department that deal with such issues, its key mandate being to uphold academic integrity. The university has put policies governing the act and the procedures involved in case they are not followed.

Every student seeking to be admitted at the university has to go through the integrity program. During this time the students to be are expected to familiarize themselves with the academic integrity policies in which truth and academic honesty is emphasized. The code of ethics not only ensures honesty but it obligates the university community to share a responsibility of achieving integrity (University of Maryland, 2005).

The Differences in Copying Restrictions

The copyright laws are meant to protect a wide variety of works. These include the music, videos, literary, drama and even intellectual property. On the other hand, Maryland academic integrity policy is concerned with academic dishonesty. It deals with plagiarism which is a minor field in the copyright laws. Whereas the copyright laws is against reproducing copies of the same work from the original one by other people and distributing to the public, the code of academic integrity at the university of Maryland is against the act of submitting academic papers without acknowledging the sources. In other words, it pushes for creativity and innovation and not copying what other people have done.

Honor pledge is emphasized in the code of academic integrity at the University of Maryland. Each student is expected to write or sign by the honor of pledge. This is done on every examination paper or during submission of any academic exercise. The pledge states that the student in question did his/her assignment or examination without unacceptable assistance. Any student who fails to do so is said to violet the code of integrity and is therefore penalized. Any issues concerning the same should be discussed with the instructor. However, the issues of honor pledge are not considered while grading. The student’s signature on the pledge indicates that he/she complied with the rules. The copyright laws do not have the honor pledge. This is because many of these works are meant for public use.

Whereas the copyright laws take the legal action against any person breaking their laws, they do not have a system in which the offenders can reconcile with the original authors. The University of Maryland has self-referral system. It helps the students who are faced with penalties to restore their integrity according to this code. They do so by writing to Honor Council that is a discipline body in the department. It is important to note that the opportunity is given once and a student cannot go to the council twice. The council committee investigates the student before charging the student. Formal procedures outlined by the code must be followed. That is, the dean or designee of the faculty should be involved. If the self referral is accepted the student should be taken to a seminar in which the council counsels him/her on the integrity.

The penalty given in the University of Maryland can be appealed. Either the student or the dean of faculty involved can appeal through writing to the honor council. This should be done within fifteen days after the judgment has been passed. This is not the case with the copyright laws. Once an offence has been committed, the penalties must be faced (Kurth, 2002).

The copyright ownership can be transferred to another person. This can be done by signing agreements between the original author, the registrar and the third party. At times apart from conditions given, there maybe some payments done (Gervais, (2009). Maryland university academic integrity policies do not have such laws. The academic work of a given author cannot be transferred to the students. In case they have to copy the work, proper citations should be provided.

At the University of Maryland, academic integrity policies involve every member to be responsible in upholding the academic integrity. Any member of the university community is therefore entitled to be on the look out and to report any case of dishonesty. In case they witness any such case they are advised to report to the honor council in written form. The copyright restrictions on the other hand do not involve the society. Instead, it calls every individual to uphold ethics and to observe copyright laws. The community is not actively involved in reporting those who do not observe these laws; a legal body that deals with copyright issues is entitled to the task.

Copyright restrictions can only apply to those works that have been registered with the organization. It recognizes those authors who are mentioned in their records as the original creators of the works and thus their conditions and penalties revolve around the works they are associated with. This is not he case in the University of Maryland. The academic integrity restricts students from copying all sorts of academic work. It involves the academic materials that are within their reach and those that are not. For instance it not only restricts plagiarizing the books in the university library but also other sources like the internet (Corke and Smith, 2008).

The academic integrity code also outlines that an “XF” grade can appear in a student’s transcript. This is especially when the student refuses to abide with the code’s policies. In other words, the letters are used as a symbol of dishonesty in academic. This is different when dealing with copyright laws because once the offenders have been punished there is no other mark that indicates that they committed the crime.

Conclusion

Computer and academic ethics should be upheld as far as copying is concerned. Plagiarism just like copying or burning CD copies of other people’s works is wrong and illegal. The copyright laws restrict copying and distributing other people’s registered works. Plagiarism as discussed by the University of Maryland should be avoided in order to uphold academic integrity. The code of academic integrity used to regulate this act therefore outlines the policies that every student should follow on admission to the university. Failure to do so leads to penalties. The major difference between the two institutions concerning the copying restrictions is that the copyright laws protect wide variety of works while university of Maryland academic integrity code protects academic materials form being copied by their students. Unlike the copyright laws, whose major goal is to encourage authorship, the university code promotes academic honesty. However, all in all both institutions are out to protect the works of the creative minds and at the same time encourage creativity and invention.

References

Armstrong, J. & Franklin, T. (2008. A Review of Current and Developing International Practice in the Use of Social Networking in Higher Education. UK: Franklin Consulting.

Buchanan, E. & Campbell, J. (2005). Commons through Law and Technology in the US, In Intellectual Property Rights in a Networked World. Theory and Practice. Web.

Coates, J. Suzor, N. & Fitzgerald, A. (2007). Legal Aspects of Web Activities: Management of Legal Risk Associated With Use of Youtube, Myspace and Second Life. Australia: Smart Service Queensland, CCI and QUT, Brisbane.

Corke, S. & Smith, C. (2008). Key Online Copyright Issues. London: Rouse Legal.

Fraser, M. Presentation at UTS on 28 April 2010 on ‘Digital Age Demands a Revolution in Copyright Regulation’. Web.

Gervais, D. (2009). The Tangled Web of UGC: Making Copyright Sense of User-Generated Content. Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment and Technology Law, 11(4), 841-870.

Hughes, J. (2005). Size Matters (or Should) In Copyright Law. Fordham Law Review, 74, 575 – 637.

Kurth, T.A. (2002). Digital Rights Management: An Overview Of The Public Policy Solutions To Protecting Creative Works In The Digital Age. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc.

Thompson, B. (2007). The Breaking Wave: New Law for a Wired World? International Review of Law Computers & Technology, 21(3), 221-223.

University of Maryland. (2005). University of Maryland Code of Academic Integrity. Web.

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