Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

WRIT 110 College Writing: Use Resources Ethically & Legally

Ethical Use of Information

Plagiarism is one of the most common ethical misuses of information. 

Random House Webster's Dictionary defines plagiarism as the "use of the language and thoughts of another author and representing them as your own." 

5 Most Common Forms of Plagiarism (Courtesy of
Clone: Submitting another's work, word-for-word as one's own.
CTRL-C: Including significant portions of text from a single source without alterations.
Find-Replace: Changing key words and phrases but retaining the essential content of the source.
Remix: Paraphrases from multiple sources, made to fit together.
Recycle: Borrow generously from a previous paper (work) without citation.

George Fox Student Handbook - Academic Honesty

Privacy-related Issues

"In our increasingly complex and technologically dependent society, many critical issues relevant to information access and usage are misunderstood, overlooked, or simply ignored. Some of these issues involve an individual’s privacy vs. the public’s “right to know.”

Other issues include the extent to which an employer may have access to its employees’ medical records, e-mail, personnel files, and other confidential information.

Still other issues concern the increased need for security of information content and systems to protect against terrorist attacks." University of Pittsburgh, Institute for Information Ethics and Policy

Using these sites, look for information about yourself.

How do you protect your privacy online? 

Courtesy of Online WSJ, Carnegie Mellon University,
Associate Professor, Lorrie Faith Cranor
Online Privacy Report by CQ Researcher
Facebook Postings resulting in Jail Time
Family loses $80,000.00 due to FaceBook Post

Legal Use of Information

Copyright is the ownership of an intellectual property within the limits prescribed by a particular nation's constitution or international law. The United States Constitution grants copyright protection in Article 1 Section 8.

United States copyright law provides the owner of a property with the
exclusive right to print,
distribute, and
copy the work,
and permission must be obtained by anyone else to reuse the work in these ways.

Copyright is provided automatically to the author of any original work covered by the law as soon as the work is created. The author does not have to formally register the work, although registration makes the copyright more visible.

Copyright was meant to give the author of the work a limited monopoly. The time frame for that monopoly in the United States is the life of the author  plus 70 years.  If the author is unknown, it is the date of the creation of the work plus 120 years.  Works created by federal government employees in the course of their work for the United States government are automatically in the public domain.

The monopoly can be infringed upon under the doctrine of "fair use." Fair Use is provided for under US Code Title 17, Chapter 1, Section 107.

The code allows the use of portions of copyrighted work without permission from the owner if the infringer can show that the majority of four factors do not give more rights to the infringer than the copyright holder.

Four Factors:

  • amount of the original work being used, 

  • the purpose for which the original is being used,

  • the nature of the original work, and

  • the effect on the market

Creative Commons Creative Commons develops, supports, and stewards a legal and technical infrastructure (a free license system) so that if a copyright holder wishes to share their work their can make explicit the rights they give to the world and the rights they wish to retain.

Copyright Tools Tools for Determining Fair Use, Public Domain, etc.

Student Press Law Center Rights of the journalist spelled out.

YouTube Copyright Information Copyright primer as well as information about YouTube and copyright.

ATLA Overview of Copyright American Theological Association's Quick Reference Guide on Academic Integrity and the Ethical Use of Information

Copyright Compliant Image Sources

  • American Memory Archive from the Library of Congress, includes many historical photographs and film stills.

  • Creative Commons Search Convenient access to search services provided by independent organizations.

  • Flickr: Creative Commons Search for images on Flickr released for use under a Creative Commons license.

  • Suggested attribution instructions for images from Flickr

  • Liam's Pictures from Old Books Almost 3,000 high-resolution images scanned from publi domain books. Includes illustrations, borders, decorative elements, and alphabets.

  • MorgueFile Stock photography provided free for all uses, including commercial.

  • NYPL Digital Gallery Images scanned from the vast collection and archives of the New York Public Library.

  • Public Health Image Library (PHIL) US Dept. of Health and Human Services Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides a searchable database of photographs, micrographs, and illustrations relating to public health.

  • WikiMedia Commons  a database of media files to which anyone can contribute with content licensed for reuse.

  • Wellcome Images  a database of images related to health and medicine. Many of the images are available for use through a Creative Commons license, but some high-resolution, rights-managed images will incur a fee.