Copyright and Intellectual Property Policies
There is a growing national trend in which some university students are posting course materials to online platforms such as Coursehero.com without permission. These materials are then made available to other users of that platform. Therefore, to protect the intellectual property of syllabi and course materials, among other materials, it is recommended that instructors take the following actions:
- Educate your students that syllabi and course materials you provide are intended for research and educational purposes only and are protected by U.S. copyright laws. This is a good opportunity to have a discussion with students about ethical responsibilities and the legal principles concerning copyright.
- Include a statement in your course syllabus to this effect.
- Add a copyright notice to course materials that is distributed or that students download from Brightspace.
Suggested syllabus statement:
“This syllabus, course lectures and presentations, and any course materials provided throughout this term are protected by U.S. copyright laws. Students enrolled in the course may use them for their own research and educational purposes. However, reproducing, selling or otherwise distributing these materials without written permission of the copyright owner is expressly prohibited, including providing materials to commercial platforms such as Chegg or CourseHero. Doing so may constitute a violation of U.S. copyright law as well as MSU’s Code of Student Conduct.”
Note: Copyright protection is not contingent on including a copyright notice on your course materials. The materials are protected as soon as they are created. However, including a notice reminds students of faculty ownership and copyrights and of students' obligations to respect those rights.
Copyright notice for course materials:
“These materials are protected pursuant to U.S. copyright laws. No part of these materials may be reproduced, displayed, or used in any manner or medium without prior written permission of the copyright owner.”
To prohibit recording in the classroom:
Electronic video and/or audio recording is not permitted during class unless the student obtains permission from the instructor. If permission is granted, any distribution of the recording is prohibited. Students with specific electronic recording accommodations authorized by the Office of Disability Services do not require instructor permission; however, the instructor must be notified of any such accommodation prior to recording. Any distribution of such recordings is prohibited.
Code of Student Conduct and Academic Misconduct
The Code of Student Conduct is available online. If you suspect a student conduct violation has occurred, please fill out the Incident Report Form. The Office of the Dean of Students will make the final determination what, if any, violations have occurred.
Suggested Statement on Academic Writing and Student Responsibilities:
Students writing in an academic setting are responsible for approaching all assignments with rigor, integrity, and in compliance with the University Code of Student Conduct. This responsibility includes:
- consulting and analyzing sources that are relevant to the topic of inquiry;
- clearly acknowledging when they draw from the ideas or the phrasing of those sources in their own writing;
- learning and using appropriate citation conventions within the field in which they are studying; and
- asking their instructor for guidance when they are uncertain of how to acknowledge the contributions of others in their thinking and writing.
When students fail to adhere to these responsibilities, they may intentionally or unintentionally “use someone else’s language, ideas, or other original (not common-knowledge) material without properly acknowledging its source” (http://www.wpacouncil.org). When the act is intentional, the student has engaged in plagiarism.
Plagiarism is an act of academic misconduct, which carries with it consequences including but not limited to receiving a course grade of “F” and a report to the Office of the Dean of Students. Unfortunately, it is not always clear if the misuse of sources is intentional or unintentional, which means that you may be accused of plagiarism even if you do not intentionally plagiarize. If you have any questions regarding use and citation of sources in your academic writing, you are responsible for consulting with your instructor before the assignment due date.
In addition, you can work with an MSU Writing Center tutor at any point in your writing process, including when you are integrating or citing sources. You can make an appointment and find citation resources at www.montana.edu/writingcenter.