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Ethics and Copyright Essay

Nowadays, the advancements in the field of technology has paved the way for the use of digital media in enhancing education system. Many new technologies and various tools have been made available in order to assist educators in their teaching methods. Likewise, these technologies have also been accessible to students and other people. However, together with these benefits also come the problem of the infringement of copyright of these materials, as well as the unethical use of these resources.

Being the case, it is essential that the ethical and copyright provisions that are related with the use of digital media in education is given due attention. In the current digital age, ethics play an important role in order to protect the rights of the people who are actually responsible in creating these digital media resources. It is unethical that due to the accessibility of information especially through the use of the Internet, people often commit plagiarism whether they are aware of it or not.

Plagiarism is defined as the “act of taking someone’s words or ideas as if they were your own” (University of Princeton, 2006). Plagiarism is considered unethical and is recognized as wrong by the academic faculty. In line with

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this, there are western ethical theories that support the idea that plagiarism is indeed unethical and this could be exemplified by Aristotle’s Virtue Ethics.

Aristotle claims that honesty is a virtue state character, which an individual defies when he or she commits plagiarism because it is a form of cheating; and as such, diminishes the moral character of a person. In order to prevent plagiarism during the era of digital media in education, the concept of fair use should be followed. Fair use is a “copyright principle based on the belief that the public is entitled to freely use portions of copyrighted materials for purposes of commentary and criticism” (Stanford University Libraries, 2009).

There are four factors that could determine whether the use of digital media in education could be recognized as fair use and these are: “the purpose and character of your use, the nature of the copyrighted work, the amount and substantially of the portion taken, and the effect of the use upon the potential market” (Stanford University Libraries, 2009). Furthermore, different organizations and scholars have also created guidelines for the educational uses of information and digital media.

Despite the fact that these guidelines are not recognized as part of the Copyright Act, these establish the standards that must be followed in using and copying information for the purpose of education (Stanford University Libraries, 2009).


Douglas, B. (2001). Ethical Insights: A brief introduction, 2nd edition. Ohio: McGraw-Hill Higher Education. Stanford University Libraries. (2009). Copyright and Fair Use Overview. Retrieved June 7, 2009, from http://fairuse. stanford. edu/Copyright_and_Fair_Use_Overview/chapter9/index. html.

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