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Copyright for Students

Students are likely to bump into copyright primarily in two areas. First, and most serious, comes File Sharing. Making audio, video or computer-executable files of copyright protected work available on the Internet is wrong, both ethically and legally. Sharing such files in a peer-to-peer context or incorporating them into a personal web page is wrong. Everyone with a networked computer is tempted by this. Please don't do it.

Next, papers and research are also likely to touch copyright, but most usage here will be exempt under Fair Use. Unless you are going to publish your work, it is probably unnecessary to document your usage with the various checklists provided in the Copyright Analysis section. Although protected from copyright infringement here, students are at high risk for carrying out a different form of intellectual theft — plagiarism. Plagiarism is taking credit for someone else's work. If you didn't write it, then you better cite it. See Beyond Copyright — Plagiarism for more detail.

There are serious penalties associated with both illegal file sharing and plagiarizing. See the Consequences of Infringement and Plagiarism sections for background on that. The penalties are intended to deter infringement and other forms of intellectual theft. Penalties will stop some illegal activity in these areas, but not most. The best reason not to steal someone else's property is because it is wrong. The next time that you are tempted, think about it and do the right thing.

Legal Disclaimer: This site is not intended to provide legal advice. If you are uncertain as to your rights and responsibilities, you are encouraged to seek an attorney’s advice.

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