Legal and Ethical Technology Issues
Discussing Copyrights, Fair Use and Privacy Act
Legal and Ethical Issues with Technology
The education system has always resulted in difficulties in information protection. Whether the issue is the protection of a student's information from illegal collection or the protection of copyrighted or publicized information against plagiarism from the student, the battle of giving credit where credit is due has always been a struggle for instructors and school administrators.
The introduction of technology has only multiplied the difficulty of safeguarding the rights of individuals. Information that could only be previously found in books or spread via word of mouth can now be downloaded onto a phone or tablet, immediately copied and then reproduced via printer, or easier yet, by simply clicking cut and paste.
Several laws and other legal protections have been put in place to protect the right of authors, while allowing share and use of information for educational purposes. These policies and laws are not always fool-proof, so it is vital to always check with an expert before sharing or using another's work.
In simple terms, copyright is the legal right given to the originator of a piece of work (writing, music, art etc) to allow others to legally use their material. The process to get this permission is often lengthy resulting in breaches of law where others illegally reproduce work for their own personal use (Merriam-Webster, 2014).
Fair Use allows the use of brief pieces of material (even if copyrighted) for use in critiques, reporting, teaching or research without permission as long as the material is used in a learning environment (Merriam-Webster, 2014)
According to the Department of Justice (2014), the Privacy Act "attempts to regulate collection, maintenance, use, and dissemination of personal information by federal executive branch agencies". The act has spilled over into the private world as a means to protect personal information of all citizens against exploitation without consent of the owner.