Ethical Use of Information

What is 'ethics'?

  1. Moral principles that govern a person's or group's behavior.
  2. The moral correctness of specified conduct.

Using someone else's work

Any time someone else's work is used, it is ethical to give credit to the original creator. This takes the form of a citation which indicates who the original creator is and where the item was found.
When using someone else's work in your own without giving credit, you are essentially indicating that you created it. This is called plagiarism.

Read More about Plagiarism

Using Media

Media such as photographs, video, and sound are all protected by copyright -- even when available 'freely' on the Internet.

The Center for Social Media has gathered Best Practices for using media in your work.

Need help with using media in your course? Check out this resource:
Interactive Guide to Using Copyrighted Media in Your Course (Baruch College)

What is Copyrighted

Imagine that you've written a book or a piece of music or crafted an original digital image.

As soon as it is in tangible form -- which may include anything written on paper, saved to disk (web pages, graphics on the web, email messages or computer programs), or saved on any audio/video device -- your creation is covered by copyright law and is your intellectual property.

Copyright law says that copyright holders ONLY may do the following things with their created work:

  • reproduce the work
  • prepare derivative works based upon the work
  • distribute copies of the work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending
  • perform the work publicly
  • display the copyrighted work publicly
  • in the case of sound recordings, to perform the work publicly by means of digital audio transmission
  • in the case of a “work of visual art” the author has certain rights of attribution and integrity Fair Use is a clause in copyright law that allows non-profit educational insititutions and libraries the ability to do the above things with someone else's copyrighted work, within specific guidelines.

Additional information can be found in these excellent tutorials

Fair Use

Learn about Fair Use

Students at non-profit, public educational institutions can make use of the educational Fair Use doctrine written into copyright law. Examples of fair use include commentary, criticism, news reporting, research, and scholarship.

The Fair Use doctrine generally allows students to:

  • make one copy of a copyrighted work (i.e., article, book chapter, etc.) for your own research / educational needs
  • use a small, limited quantity of the copyrighted material in your own work without having to request permission or pay a licensing fee, however citing the original creator is expected.

The following are not covered by the Fair Use doctrine:

  • making copies of textbooks or disposable worksheets
  • distributing copyrighted materials to others

Read More about Fair Use

Public Domain

What is 'Public Domain'?

Wikipedia has an excellent entry which explains the concept of public domain. Basically ideas, information, and works enter the public domain and can be freely used when they are no longer covered as intellectual property by copyright law.

The American Library Association presents a handy tool – Digital Copyright Slider -- to help determine if something is covered by copyright law.

Cornell University provides extensive information on Copyright Term and the Public Domain.

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