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Intellectual Property

Charlie Lowe

Grand Valley State University


"Is it legal to make a copy of this text for the classroom?" "How do should we define plagiarism?" "Do I own the rights to the course materials that I create?" These are questions that many teachers confront on a regular basis that are part of the study of intellectual property. As defined by the World International Property, "intellectual property (IP) refers to creations of the mind: inventions, literary and artistic works, and symbols, names, images, and designs used in commerce" (WIPO). In higher education, the study of IP is an interdisciplinary area which explores the cultural significance and legal implications of who owns a work and how that work can be used. Research areas include, but are not limited to, fair use, plagiarism, copyright term extensions, definitions of authorship, the public domain, faculty ownership of the IP that they produce, open access, open source, open textbooks, and peer-to-peer file trading.

Related Resources

The CCCC Intellectual Property Committee provides both monthly and annual reports on important issues in IP and new publications.

Creative Commons provides a clearinghouse of licenses which authors can use to provide extended rights to the works they produce.

The U.S. Copyright Office Copyright Basics flyer explains about authors' and users' legal rights for copyrighted works.

The Council of Writing Program Administrator's Defining and Avoiding Plagiarism: The WPA Statement on Best Practices is a well-accepted position statement which faculty can use at their institutions.

Rebecca Moore Howard's Bibliographies for Composition and Rhetoric contains extensives lists of sources on a wide variety of IP topics.

Know Your Copy Rights is a publication of the Association of Research Libraries which can help teachers understand educational fair use rights.

Email Lists and Related Organizations

Digital-copyright is an email discussion list made up of educators, librarians, and lawyers interested in copyright and other IP issues relevant to higher education.

The CCCC Intellectual Property Caucus, which regularly meets each year on Wednesday at CCCC, maintains a web page and a discussion list at Google Groups for educators interested in discussing IP. 

Document and Site Resources

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