Monday, July 17, 2006

A Copyright Conundrum - #3

As I try to emphasize copyright in many lessons with my students with the consequences and examples of plagiarism in the publishing and world at large, I am often met with blank stares. I hoped that in other academic settings this was of more concern. However, lately I have been disheartened by some experiences that two authors in my family have experienced. My husband recently wrote a teaching unit for a division of a major university. When the unit was received at the program, the interns working on the project eliminated all the footnotes and references summarily. When the unit was sent back to him for proofreading, the head of the program received an immediate call from my husband who informed him that he had a problem with the lack of citations when he had been so careful to cite things correctly. The citations were restored.

My daughter is working for a think tank in our nation’s capital and is helping to edit a forthcoming book. The book is a collection of articles by experts in the international relations concerning the Middle East. Most of the articles were submitted to her agency with only web links as references. It has become her incredibly time-consuming task to track down these references and she will not be happy until things are cited correctly. Well-regarded professors in major universities and international relations experts submitted these articles. Her professors at Illinois Wesleyan were very meticulous about this issue, thank goodness!

What has happened to make these instances common? What has happened to academic integrity and the issues that we teach as librarians?

In one instance, the lack of a style sheet as they have for World Libraries could have made things much better. However, to completely remove carefully cited information or not to include it at all and not think that is unusual is disturbing to me. Do these issues concern you? What has been your experience, are people in your workplaces indifferent about this?


Blogger Heidi said...

It is so ironic that you mention copyright at this point. I was in a class last night where the majority of the students were teachers in the school of education, rather than library science students, and comments came up about copyright. Someone made a comment that they wanted to make sure they weren't breaking any copyright rules when creating their website, so our professor was going to check the laws for her. After this subject was brought up one of the other education school students made a side comment to his classmate, and said, "Look at all these English majors worrying about citing things correctly". I was astonished. He had no clue. These people were not merely being picky, they were following the LAW! I dont think that most people realize how serious of an offense it is to break copyright and not use correct citations and get permission. I know that we have talked about this in my media productions class, that as a librarian, it is part of our job to educate other teachers on what can and cannot be used without the publisher's permission. I am just shocked that in the school of education, this sort of material is not covered.

So sadly to answer your question, I think that there are many people out there who just don't relaize when they are breaking copyright, and teh plea of ignorance is not a justified excuse.

6:11 AM  
Blogger Michael Stephens said...

I've cited a lot of stuff that only appears only online -- blog posts, online journals, etc. With Library Journal, for example, I'd rather cite the online version so folks can get to it more easily!

5:48 PM  
Blogger christopherf said...

If we are living in a Web 2.0 world people need to be made aware of what copyright infringements they could come across when gathering and borrowing information from the Internet. I strongly think that the notion towards the Internet and copyright are finally changing. I wonder what percentage of Internet-users today actually, and finally, understand the concept that "just because you can find it on the Web doesn't make it 'fair game', something can LEGALLY be copied and pasted"?

11:17 AM  
Blogger Mikey said...

If you want an interesting spin on copyright you should check out Captain Copyright I'm not sure that its the best message to set across since Librarians dont like him so much but it is a different perspective.

11:09 AM  

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