MET:Copyright and Plagiarism

From UBC Wiki

Created by Deborah Schell and Chris McKenzie - Summer 2011


Copyright and plagiarism issues are not new, but since technology use is increasing and access to a wide variety of resources is made easier, teachers have a responsibility to inform their practice and educate students about how to legally and ethically interact with other people's work. Therefore, educators must be aware of the Canadian copyright laws as they pertain to education and digital materials. As well, it is essential for teachers to become aware of the reasons that students plagiarise using online sources in order to develop ways to educate them to engage in appropriate online behaviour.

Intellectual Property Rights (IPR)

The Canadian IP System (Canadian Intellectual Property Office, 2012)

Intellectual property (IP), very broadly, means the legal rights that result from intellectual activity in the industrial, scientific, literary and artistic fields. Types of Intellectual Property protected by the law in Canada are [1] :

  • Patents
  • Trade-marks
  • Copyrights
  • Industrial Designs
  • Integrated Circuit Topography

Intellectual Property Rigths (IPRs) are governed in Canada by several different laws and acts. Out of the 5 types of IPR, copyright is the most frequently used and known and is governed by Copyright Act

Canadian copyright laws and education

What is copyright?

Copyright legally protects and gives the right to produce or reproduce any significant amount of a work of literature, drama, art, music, audio recording, software, performance, and communication signal.[2][3] Using your own words to reproduce ideas, facts, or information does not infringe on copyright as long as the sources are properly cited.[2] A failure to properly cite sources (which is called plagiarism) is not only illegal, but it is also unethical since the owner would be receiving no credit for his or her work. Copyright laws are the same everywhere in Canada; however, they can change drastically among different countries. Therefore, educators must always defer to the Canadian Copyright Act.[2] The owner of copyright for a work has the rights to:

  • The sole right to control first publication
  • Production
  • Reproduction
  • Performance of a work, or its translation
  • Give away or sell copyright
  • License the work to another person or company, so they can use it
  • Collect royalties (payment from people and organizations using the works)

You get copyright automatically when you create an original work. That means something you created, using your own ideas, skills and judgement, and with your own activity. You don't have to register your work to get copyright, it exists as soon as your work is "fixed" - which means when it is produced onto any media (paper, digital media, etc)

Copyright in Canadian Education

Digital Copies

File:APA manual.jpg
This person references the APA Manual to give credit for the use of copyrighted materials. The American Psychological Association is one of many groups that suggest how to provide proper referencing.

Copyright laws for print materials also apply to digital copies; [4] therefore, the laws for print resources are important for all educators, even those who teach online courses. For instance, if a student were to include an image in a PowerPoint presentation, he or she would need to provide a citation for the image. As well, educational institutions must keep digital copies or reproductions secure from anyone who is not a staff member, teacher, student, or parent at the institution.[4]

Print copies

The following laws also pertain to digital copyright.[4] Teachers are allowed to copy anything for which the owners have provided written permission.[5] They are also allowed to copy any works of an author who died at least 50 years ago, as long as the work does not contain recently added material and as long as the work was published during the author’s lifetime.[5] Copies of copyrighted materials may be used to present an image to students via a projector, monitor, or interactive whiteboard.[4][6] As well, educators and students may also manually write reproductions on flip charts, whiteboards, or other surfaces that display materials.[6]

Teachers may also copy “insubstantial” portions of a work.[5] “Insubstantial” portions of a work include up to 10% of an excerpt from a printed text, an entire chapter of no more than 20% or a book, an entire article or page of a news publication or journal, an entire short work (short story, play, essay, or poem) from a collection, an entire reference work’s entry, or an entire artistic work found in a publication.[5]

Whenever a copy is made, the author’s/performer’s/maker’s/broadcaster’s name and the source must be provided on one of the pages of the copies. In addition, a notice must appear that states “Copied under licence from Access Copyright. Further reproduction or distribution is prohibited, except as otherwise permitted by law.”[4] The amount of copies made must not exceed one copy per student, two for the teacher, and a “reasonable amount for administrative purposes.”[4]

Also, teachers are not allowed to copy one-time use materials (such as workbooks or purchased exams), instructions manuals or teachers’ guides, or works that state they may not be copied under a collective society’s licence.[5][4] Teachers may also not freely use materials to create a course pack of more than 20 pages and more than four sources.[5][4] Currently, sheet music may not be copied, but a proposed update of the copyright laws would allow its purchase by an educational institution as long as there are enough copies available for at least 75% of the largest class singing the piece or at least 50% of the largest class playing the piece in band.[4]


Educators may copy a broadcast as long as the broadcast was recorded at the time it was originally presented.[7] The educator may keep the recording for up to thirty days to evaluate it; however, if thirty days pass and the recording has not been erased or if the educator decides to show the recording, then the royalties must be paid.[7]

Ethical vs. legal - how to be an ethical downloader

In Canada, downloading movies, video games and licensed software is illegal. However, rules concerning music are complicated by an exception in the Copyright Act that makes it legal to copy a recording for personal use. The government charges a levy on blank recording media as a way to compensate artists. The private copying section of the act was created before file-sharing exploded, and it doesn't specifically outlaw downloading. Section 80(1) of the Copyright Act [4] states that the downloading (or other copying) of music for a person's private use does no constitute infringement if certain conditions are met. In order to take advantage of this special exception, the copying has to be made to “an audio recording medium,” and it has to be for the purpose of the private use of the person who actually makes the copy. That is, you cannot use this exception to make a copy for someone else. The exception is also not available if the copy is going to be sold, rented out, distributed, or communicated to the public by telecommunication or performance. Any distribution will take the copying out of the exception, even if it is not done for the purposes of trade or sales. The question that remains somewhat unclear in Canadian law is whether putting a file in a shared directory constitutes authorization to reproduce. If so, that act would be infringement on a right reserved to the owner of the copyright in the file. Also note that this exception, which was put in place in response to lobbying of the music recording industry and in conjunction with the levy on blank recording media does not say anything about downloading of video or software materials.



Piracy now is viewed in terms of copyright infringement. Copyright infringement is the unauthorized use of works under copyright, infringing the copyright holder's "exclusive rights," such as the right to reproduce, distribute, display or perform the copyrighted work, spread the information contained within copyrighted works, or to make derivative works [8]. It often refers to coping "intellectual property" without written permission from the copyright holder, which is typically a publisher or other business representing or assigned by the work's creator.

Examples of Piracy


Sampling is the act of taking a portion, or sample, of one sound recording and reusing it as an instrument or a sound recording in a different song or piece. During the 80's and early 90's, the explosion of hip-hop/electroninc production was created through sampling

Peer-to-Peer file sharing
Example of P2P Piracy

A peer-to-peer(abbreviated to P2P) computer network is one in which each computer in the network can act as a client or server for the other computers in the network, allowing shared access to various resources such as files, peripherals, and sensors without the need for a central server [8] . P2P networks can be sest up within the home, a businiess, or over the Internet. Each network type requires all computers in the network to use the same or a compatible program to connect to each other and access files and other resources found on the other computer. P2P networks can be used for sharing content such as audio, video, data, or anything in digital format [8].


Streaming media is multimedia that is constantly received by and presented to an end-user while being delivered by a provider. Its verb form, "to stream," refers to the process of delivering media in this manner; the term refers to the delivery method of the medium rather than the medium itself. An example of streming piracy can be found here


What is plagiarism?

Plagiarism is the act of using or passing off someone else’s work as your own without giving proper credit to the original author. Although plagiarism has been around for generations[9] Internet plagiarism is a relatively new problem that is on the rise. Approximately 60% of high school students have admitted to some form of plagiarism and half of the students admitted to plagiarizing using the Internet[10]. Males are much more likely to participate in unethical behaviour than females[11]

Types of plagiarism

The two main types of Internet plagiarism are buying papers and copy-and-paste (or cut-and-paste) plagiarism. Buying a paper involves purchasing a paper on a particular topic from a website that advertises this service. Examples include Best Essays and Term Paper Writer. A credit card is all that is required to obtain a paper on the subject of your choice.

Copy-and-paste plagiarism involves copying and pasting information from a web site without making any attempt to reword the information or give proper credit to the original author.

Reasons for internet plagiarism

Students are overwhelmed by the large amount of information available on the Internet and have difficulty sorting through it. In addition, students have not been shown how to paraphrase and properly reference information obtained from the Internet[10].

Some students display a lack of confidence in their ability to complete an assignment and wind up plagiarizing instead[12]. Other students cite a lack of interest in the assigned topic and/or the type of assignment[10].

Poor time management by students plays a role in Internet plagiarism[13]. Leaving an assignment until the last minute or laziness on the student’s part increases the chance of Internet plagiarism.

Prevention strategies

Historically, a rules-based approach has been used to address cases of plagiarism. This method does not work with the current generation of students. An educational approach is thought to be more effective at reducing instances of Internet plagiarism[14]


Students need to learn what plagiarism is and how to complete Internet research. The education process should also include referencing methods and paraphrasing techniques. Using examples and case studies is an effective method of teaching students about Internet plagiarism.[12][14].

Assessment and evaluation strategies

Chunking larger assignments into smaller, more manageable pieces and insisting on seeing rough drafts throughout the writing process will decrease the frequency of last minute work and will provide students with timely feedback[15][16]. Clearly communicating expectations for Internet research assignments such as the process to be followed, the need for rough work and due dates are also effective plagiarism prevention strategies.[10]. Students who are uncertain of expectations may commit plagiarism. Students are less likely to plagiarize when they are interested in the topic or assignment[10].Strategies to reduce plagiarism include allowing students to select their own topic (in consultation with the teacher)[16] and allowing students some flexibility with the method of presenting the assignment, such as wikis, web pages and Prezi[10].

Detection strategies

File:Turnitin Pic.JPG is one method teachers use to detect plagiarism.

Educators can check student work for unusual and/or inconsistent formatting that is contrary to class expectations[16]. Software available on sites such as Turnitin can be used to detect plagiarism by checking a student’s submission against past submissions stored in its database[12]. Problems with using websites such as Turnitin include potential violation of a student’s privacy and copyright since the submissions are stored on the site without the student’s permission[12]. While software can detect whether the current submission uses words or sentences from another assignment, it has difficulty distinguishing cited from uncited work which would require intervention from the instructor[12].


  1. Canadian Intellectual Property Office. An Agency of Industry Canada (2013). Retrieved from
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Council of Ministers of Education Canada, Canadian School Boards Association, and Canadian Teachers’ Federation In W. Noel (Ed.), (2005). Copyright matters: Some key questions and answers for teachers. Retrieved from
  3. Copyright Act, C-42 R.S.C. § 3 (2011). Retrieved from
  4. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 Copyright Act and Cancopy license (2001). Retrieved from
  5. 6.0 6.1 Copyright Act, C-42 R.S.C. § 29.4 (2011). Retrieved from
  6. 7.0 7.1 Copyright Act, C-42 R.S.C. § 29.7 (2011). Retrieved from
  7. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Edwards, L., & Waedle, C. (2010). Online intermediaries and liability for copyright infringement. Retrieved from
  8. Gorman, G.E. (2008). The plague of plagiarism in an online world. Online Information Review, 32(3), 297-301.
  9. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.5 Sisti, D.A. (2007). How do high school students justify internet plagiarism? Ethics & Behavior, 17(3), 215-231.
  10. McMahon, J.M. & Cohen, R. (2009). Lost in cyberspace: ethical decision making in the online environment. Ethics and Information Technology, 11(1), 1-17.
  11. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 Miall, C. (2005). Combating ‘cut n paste’ culture: The impact of new media technologies on plagiarism. In P. Kommers & G. Richards (Eds.), Proceedings of World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications 2005(pp. 2918-2923). Chesapeake, VA: AACE.
  12. Szabo, A. & Underwood, J. (2004). Cybercheats: Is information and communication technology fuelling academic dishonesty? Active Learning in Higher Education, 5(2), 180 – 199.
  13. 14.0 14.1 Banerjee, G. (2010). Teaching students personal and social responsibility: An “engaged pedagogy” with instructional technologies. In D. Gibson & B. Dodge (Eds.), Proceedings of Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference 2010 (pp. 2156-2161). Chesapeake, VA: AACE.
  14. Correa, E. (2006). "Practice cheating" challenges to ethics 'on-line'. In T. Reeves & S. Yamashita (Eds.), Proceedings of World Conference on E-Learning in Corporate, Government, Healthcare, and Higher Education 2006 (pp. 2545-2550). Chesapeake, VA: AACE.
  15. 16.0 16.1 16.2 Suarez, J. & Martin, A. (2001). Internet plagiarism: A teacher's combat guide. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 1(4), 546-549. Norfolk, VA: AACE.

External Links

Best Essays [1]

Term Paper Writer [2]

Turnitin [3]