Ethics & Copyright

Please mind your manners and don't steal other people's stuff!

It seems so simple. The Internet is free, easy to use, open 24 hours a day and has everything you need for school and personal entertainment: research materials, term papers, software, music, and videos to download. CDs are simple to duplicate and give to your friends, and your cell phone keeps you in touch with them in and out of class.

So, what is the problem? Just because something is available and easy does not make it legal or right.

  • Downloading or copying software, music or other media and not paying for it is no different than shoplifting.
  • Copying information from a web site or printed material and pretending it is yours is plagiarism.
  • Cheating is unethical whether you write on your hand or text message during a test.

A national survey published in Education Week found that 54% of students admitted to plagiarizing from the Internet; 74% of students admitted that at least once during the past school year they had engaged in "serious" cheating; and 47% of students believe their teachers sometimes choose to ignore students who are cheating.

Copyright Violations

It is expected that all Bozeman School District staff and students will comply with copyright and fair use laws.

Be sure a get this chart covering the basics of copyright and fair use guidelines for teachers that you can copy and distribute as needed (courtesy of

Areas of Copy Right Concerns:

  • Plagiarism in homework, research, and academic projects 
    Plagiarism: To steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one's own; use (another's production) without crediting the source; to commit literary theft; present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source. (Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary) 

    Plagiarism in any form is unacceptable. Proper credit and citation must be given whenever material is copied and/or paraphrased.
  • Software and media copying/piracy 
    A person who copies CDs, does not pay for shareware, or shares MP3 files or software with friends is stealing property. While this person might never consider shoplifting or burglary, there really is no moral, ethical or economic difference between the theft of intellectual property and that of physical property. 

    Economic losses due to copying and piracy are enormous. Artists and creators lose income, governments lose tax revenues and all consumers eventually get less variety and choice. Prices rise for those who do pay to compensate for the theft by those who do not.

What Parents & Teachers Can Do:

  • Set and enforce high standards of ethical behavior at home, at school and in the community.
  • Talk about ownership of intellectual property and make the ethical/moral connection to theft of physical property.
  • Set a good example by not violating copyright laws.
  • Check the computers your children and students use for new software, media files and music on a regular basis.
  • Use Turnitin to monitor

Cheating During Tests

How It's Done:

  • Camera phones: students can snap a picture of a test.
  • Text messaging: students use cell phones to request or provide answers during a test.
  • MP3 players: notes can be recorded and played back during a test.
  • Candy wrappers can be flattened; scanned into a computer; the ingredients section can be edited into a cheat sheet; the wrapper is printed and rewrapped around the candy.
  • Graphing calculators can be programmed with formulas or vocabulary lists.
  • Personal digital assistants may look like calculators, but they can hold notes.

What Teachers Can Do to Prevent It:

  • Talk to your students about cheating and make honesty a high priority.
  • During tests, walk around your classroom. Be watchful and vigilant.
  • Do not let students listen to "music" during tests.
  • Do not allow cell phones, PDAs and other personal electronic devices in your classroom.
  • Have students clear graphing calculators before tests.
  • Ban snacks during tests.

CyberSafe information copied and used with permission from Boise School District

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