One of the big ideas raised in both the film we watched and your textbook is that of ownership of ideas. To quote from the chapter in Everyone’s an Author,
Who owns words and ideas? Answers to this question differ from culture to culture. In some societies, they are shared resources, not the property of individuals. In others, using another person’s words or ideas may be seen as a tribute or compliment that doesn’t require specific acknowledgement. In the United States, however (as well as in much of the Western world), elaborate systems of copyright and patent law have grown up to protect the intellectual property (including words, images, voices, and ideas) of individuals and corporations. This system forms the foundation of the documentation conventions currently followed in U.S. schools (527).
As I’ve mentioned, we are an individualistic society. We encourage people to pull themselves up by the bootstraps (assuming they have boots to begin with). We expect our members to pursue happiness and prosperity by their own definition, and we encourage them to defend what is “theirs” with laws that protect them from “violation” (see copyright law). In other words, the individual is the central focus of American society, rather than the whole, or the greater good. This kind of thinking operates closely to the scarcity model that teaches us resources are limited, survival is everything, everyone is competition, and thus we should fight to protect what little we have lest it be taken away. We hoard whatever we can get our hands on, then, in an effort to preserve some sort of perceived safety: is our very existence truly threatened by sharing what we have with others?
Academia exists in a weird place, somewhere between the copyright and copyleft. While we pander to individualism in that we want you to do your own work and earn your credentials (also, we want you to think for yourself!), we also greatly value collaboration and remix! When I write for an academic audience, I name drop. I associate my work, and my ideas, with the people who came before me, who have been doing this work. It would be unprofessional and inappropriate to show up and suggest change without first learning about how we got to where we are now. I build on what they have already done. I also connect sources, putting them into conversation. Perhaps Source A made a point that Source B can add to. As a writer, I can connect these articles and make new meaning. This is what sampling looks like in academia. However, academia makes an explicit demand that the public sphere does not, which is that you must cite your sources, giving credit where credit is due.
Here is Henry Ford College’s policy on academic (dis)honesty (I put the dis- in parenthesis because I wonder how this conversation would change if instead of framing it as a list of do-not’s, we looked at academic honesty and defined that instead):
Henry Ford College (HFC) considers academic dishonesty to be a serious offense. It is the policy of the College that determination of and appropriate action in respect to academic dishonesty by a student shall be a matter of individual judgment by the instructor. The instructor may administer a penalty up to and including failure in the particular course. It is the professional obligation of the faculty to enforce academic integrity in their courses. Instructors (or their designees) reserve the right to require picture identification for test taking, graded papers or projects, or other appropriate purposes. A student cannot drop a class if failing for reasons of academic dishonesty.
Academic dishonesty is any activity intended to improve a student’s grade fraudulently.* It includes, but is not limited to, the following:
- Unauthorized acquisition of tests or alteration of grades (such as the stealing of tests, test keys, or grade books from faculty offices or elsewhere, or the purchasing of tests or grade-books);
- Unauthorized use of notes, books, or other prohibited materials during an examination;
- Open cheating on an examination (such as copying from another student’s paper);
- Permitting another person to take a test in the student’s place or receiving unauthorized assistance with any work for which academic credit is received;
- Providing unauthorized assistance with any work for which academic credit is received;
- Revision of graded work in an attempt to receive additional credit fraudulently;
- Plagiarism (using another person’s work without acknowledgment);
- Use of cell and video phones to cheat; and
- Any other conduct intended to obtain academic credit fraudulently or dishonestly.
If an instructor fails a student in a course for academic dishonesty, the instructor must immediately notify in writing the student and the registrar of the infraction, retaining copies of both notifications.
The registrar maintains a record of all such violations. If a student fails two classes as a result of academic dishonesty, he or she is dismissed from HFC for two academic years. In addition, a notation of the reason for academic dismissal is placed on the student’s transcript(s). The notation may be expunged at the discretion of the appropriate vice president if the student petitions for its removal after at least two years have elapsed since the disciplinary action.
If a student believes that the accusation is false, he or she may appeal through the Student Complaint Procedure. If the appeal reaches the Student Complaint Board (SCB), the SCB may consider only whether the charge is justified. The SCB may not set aside or change the penalty given by the instructor unless the charge of academic dishonesty is set aside.
*Any action that violates the Student Conduct Policy and Due Process Procedure is also subject to review under that policy.
Your assignment for this particular unit asks you to connect themes from RIP: A Remix Manifesto to college policies on academic integrity. Start with fair use. Read your textbook. Review the college policy quoted above. Think about whether or not ideas can really be owned, and whether we need more copyright, or more sharing/open source materials. Consider your responsibilities as a college student, where the concept of remix might fit into the work that you do, and how you should handle that ethically. I’m looking for you to show me that you paid attention to the film, that you’ve taken some time to think about these concepts, and that you are aware of and understand what is expected of you as a college student.
Here are links to two resources we talked about in class: