Copyright Made Easy
by Keith Lightbody - Facilities Consultant - last updated 5 March 2007

Even before computers it was possible to break copyright. The printing press, photocopier, audio-cassette tape recorder and video cassette recorder all allowed people to easily copy other peoples creations.

The digital world has escalated the ease and dramatically lowered the cost. Email, the World Wide Web, DVD and CD writers (burners) and peer-to-peer networking all make it easier than ever to break copyright. Huge numbers of people in society regularly break copyright in some way. Students wonder "Why not join in with everyone else?"

However there are good moral, ethical and legal reasons for protecting copyright. One issue is the option of economic reward to the person creating the content. People can choose to seek reward for their creativity. Another option with digital content is giving it away freely. The Internet has been inspiring in the way many people have willingly shared their efforts. The cost of distribution is minimal on the Internet. The end user may view the work on screen or meet the cost of printing.

How to encourage students to respect copyright?

Positive strategies!
A. Responsible use policies.
B. Acknowledge all significant sources of information.
C. Respect copyright by producing your own work.
Notes on encouraging creativity
D. Collect a copyright file of resources.
E. Role models in copyright

What about a scare campaign?
Search online ... find recent examples of users who have been prosecuted for breaches of copyright.

Other strategies!
1. Handout software audit forms to audience
(one part of a campaign by the Business Software Association of Australia)
2. The powerful search facilities on the Internet allow easy identification of blatant plagiarism.
3. A recent example in USA resulted in the successful prosecution of a 12 year old student for sharing 1000 music files. Tracking of a persons movements on line is relatively easy.
4. I found a University had 'appropriated' a whole section of content from my digital camera site and placed it on their site under a new title. Fortunately a number of carefully worded emails with copies of that Universities ethics policy attached sent to many significant University staff members solved the problem within hours.

Useful sites :
Article by Rosemary Shaw "Kindergarten Copyright"
Australian Copyright Council - general information plus excellent information sheets on particular areas of interest (e.g. Music & Copyright, Computer Software & Copyright, Videos and Film: Screening in Class)
Australian Libraries Copyright Committee - how to maintain a balance between reasonable access to creative works for copyright users and an incentive for copyright creators and owners
Intellectual Property Branch of the Australian Federal Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts (slow to load)
Copyright Agency Limited - general information, copying guidelines for schools, TAFEs and independent educational institutions plus the excellent slogan "Respect Copyright - Encourage Creativity" (dated digital agenda bill info)
IP Australia - federal government agency that grants rights in patents, trade marks and designs.
(IP - intellectual property - term which covers copyright, trade marks, designs, patents, circuit layouts, plant breeders' rights, performers' rights and confidential information)

Digital ethics and morality extend beyond copyright and digital stealing. Assist students to realize problems caused by hacking and viruses. Help them understand that email and chat are still subject to legislation regarding libel, slander, stalking, contempt of court, breach of contract or perverting the course of justice.

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My email:
cumuluskeith at