Plagiarism and Copyright
Moving rapidly to remote instruction has caused many disruptions, not the least of which is the urgency to find applicable, accessible content for our students.
In doing so, however, we need to ensure that we are: 1) providing our own original content; 2) providing materials from copyrighted materials purchased for use by UND; 3) utilizing Open Educational Resources (OERs); or providing citation for permissibly used content from other copyrighted sources
We understand the need and urgency in moving courses to remote instruction, so in utilizing different sources, the best course is to always provide citation and reference so that students know where the information is coming from, we ourselves can keep track of it and refer back to it, and to prevent any situations which might open us up to copyright infringement.
The following guide provides resources for how to navigate and present information ethically and legally in your remote course content.
Both NDUS and UND conforms to the federal Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) Policy which makes both employees and students aware of the definitions and repercussions of online copyright infringement.
Jason Jenkins, Assistant General Counsel and the University's patent and intellectual property attorney, has provided the following resources on Copyright, Intellectual Property, Fair Use, and Creative Commons.
Copyright & Creative Commons
Jason Jenkins presented on Copyright and Creative Commons at the Open Education Resources Summit in 2016.
Fair Use in the Online Classroom
Jason Jenkins, UND Office of General Counsel, has provided a write-up on fair use in online education.
It would be impossible in this forum to cover even a fraction of the myriad legal issues that could weigh on the ultimate question of what constitutes a permissible use of third-party content in teaching an online course. Moreover, this is an area that is virtually devoid of clear answers or reliable guidance; every situation is different and thus, every use must be evaluated under the unique facts and circumstances presented. It is instead sufficient to attempt to illuminate some concepts and demystify others, with the hope of equipping instructors with a basic understanding of key legal principles, as well as some rudimentary tools to enable informed decision-making.
What’s the difference in copywritten works used in a face-to-face setting versus online?
A: There are some fundamental differences between online and face-to-face teaching vis-à-vis copyright law. For example, there is an express, and sweeping, carve-out in the Copyright Act (17 USC) for face-to-face teaching (Section 110(1)) that has only a limited counterpart for online courses (Section 110(2)). The biggest drawbacks to Section 110(2) are a quantity limitation ("reasonable and limited portions") and various technological/procedural requirements that are not present in Section 110(1). It would be a fair critique that Congress is notoriously slow to adapt to rapidly evolving technology, and that Section 110(2) as promulgated almost certainly did not fully anticipate the current landscape.
The good news, however, is that fair use (Section 107) applies across the board and that many online teaching activities can be justified under a fair use analysis. Safeguards and best practices should be employed whenever practicable. For example, risk can best be managed where the amount of material used is reflective of what is necessary to achieve the teaching purpose, and where access is limited (via appropriate technology) to enrolled students. Other risk considerations are the availability of the work generally (can it be obtained locally, such as through libraries and ILL, or can it be licensed for a reasonable fee) and whether the copying is gratuitous or connected to a legitimate, pedagogical purpose. Courts are generally cognizant of academic fair use, and universities aren't always attractive defendants, especially where liability is limited (or eliminated) through sovereignty or case law restricting money damages. All of these things are typically balanced in any risk assessment.
Who bears the risk- faculty or employer?
A: The risk of being accused of infringing falls on faculty, yes, but bear in mind that the State of North Dakota fully indemnifies its employees for acts and omissions within the scope of employment. This would include third party claims for IP infringement. There are scant few cases that actually get that far, however, and the most likely outcome is a cease and desist followed by some form of compliance (i.e., a take-down) or push-back depending on the circumstances. Under current federal law, the University has some measure of sovereign immunity from suit in federal court, and the educational aim of fair use is typically upheld. It would have to be an egregious set of facts to warrant a high level of concern.
That said, the University should - and does - aspire to be a good, responsible citizen and we recognize the fine balance between use, dissemination, and exploitation of creative and scholarly output.
Who owns the copyright of content created for the course?
A: If the work in question was created “at the specific direction” of UND, or was otherwise subject to a contract requiring a different disposition, copyright belongs to UND, if not it belongs to the author(s). (UND’s course development contracts are “work for hire” at the specific direction of UND).
What is a compilation work?
A: Insofar as one or more works were independently created, and subsequently merged, the finished product (i.e., the COMPILATION) would be treated as a copyrighted (copyrightable) work separate and apart from the individual contributions. An owner or permitted user of a COMPILATION will generally not have any rights in the individual contributions.
What is a Joint Work?
A: In a true JOINT WORK scenario, however, where there is a manifested, express intent that separate contributions be merged into a single whole, there would only be one copyrightable work, owned in all likelihood jointly by the co-authors. So it is entirely possible that faculty authors could own copyright in text and graphs that are later incorporated into a separate work with different ownership.
Tools & Technologies
The following Academic Tools and Technologies are available to help you
Blackboard SafeAssign is a review tool that matches your content to other content on the web as well as Global and Institutional Databases. In this way, it gives you a report on how “original” your content is, and you can adjust and cite accordingly. While it is mostly used for students, you can create a Blackboard sandbox, upload your content into an assignment, and then review your own results through SafeAssign. You can also do a Direct Submit into SafeAssign from any course by going to Control Panel < Course Tools < SafeAssign < Direct Submit.
Originality checkers like this can not only help you dodge any inadvertent plagiarism but also they can be fun and educational on how to best present others’ content when intentionally doing so.
While SafeAssign is utilized to check documents that have already been created, citation managers help you organize and cite your information before generating content. If you’ve never used a citation manager, you are missing out on a wonderful way to curate and organize your secondary research sources. If you are working on a scholarly article, a book, or even organizing content for a class, these tools help you keep track of where information came from and store the citations for you. You can even organize citations by projects and/or courses for easy access!
Hoonuit is an online training resource that is available to all UND students, faculty and staff. They provide a robust library of eLearning content that can be integrated into Blackboard courses.
Here are two videos from Hoonuit that both provide definitions of plagiarism and ways to avoid it:
To watch the videos above you will need to log in to Hoonuit with your NDUS.Identifier and password.
If you so determine that you do need to provide citation, you can find information on how to do so from UND’s Writing Center.