Monday, July 28, 2014

‘You hurt yourself with plagiarism,’ says FILCOLS exec to Miriam College students

Students who plagiarize eventually stunt their own intellectual growth and they fail to develop good writing skills, Filipinas Copyright Licensing Society (FILCOLS) executive director Alvin J. Buenaventura said before first year students of Miriam College (MC) last July 21.

FILCOLS executive director Alvin J. Buenaventura introduces students to relevant websites.

Cut and paste is easy but it makes the mind lazy

Buenaventura, during his lecture “Copyright is a Human Right” at the MC’s Paz Adriano Little Theater in Quezon City, said due to the availability of online materials students resort to doing the shortcut to a writing assignment: cut and paste.

He said “cut and paste” is easy. But this easy practice, once ingrained, makes the mind lazy. It also fails to develop one’s writing skills as one relies only on the written output of others. The practice falls under plagiarism and violates intellectual honesty. “In the long run, you only hurt yourself with plagiarism,” he added.

The generally accepted definition of plagiarism is the deliberate use of another person’s work and then passing it off as one’s own work. The right thing to do is to properly acknowledge the source of the work by the use of quotation marks, footnotes, or bibliography.

Miriam College first year students laugh at Buenaventura's funny stories.

Copyright’s “M&M”

Buenaventura explained that copyright is a bundle of rights made up mainly of moral rights and material (or economic) rights. He calls them copyright’s “M&M.” Copyright is an “invention” of the law to protect authors and artists.

The first “M” or moral rights of the author is made up of the right of paternity (or maternity) and right of integrity. 

The right of paternity (or maternity) means the author alone can put his or her name on the work and claim the work as one’s own. The right of integrity means the author can allow or stop changes to the work. The material rights mean the author can earn from what s/he produced.

Due to the large number of students, they were divided into four batches. Each session lasted 2 hours.

Where copyright and plagiarism meets

A plagiarist who puts his or her own name on the work instead of the true author may be violating the right of paternity (or maternity) of the author.

The plagiarist may also violate the right of integrity of the author by paraphrasing the work to mask the stealing of the author’s original work or idea (especially for research works).

Where copyright and plagiarism part ways

The plagiarist does not violate the second “M” or material (or economic) rights of the author since s/he is not engaged in the mass reproduction or distribution of the copyright owner’s work. Under the material (or economic) rights, the other rights where the author can earn are through translation, transformation, public performance or exhibition, broadcasting or other ways to communicate the work to the public.

There were a number of students from other countries. The energetic girl with raised arm is a Fil-New Zealander.

A note on public domain plus plagiarism

Copyright lasts for the lifetime of the author plus 50 years. After this period, the work or works of the author goes to a law-created world called “public domain.” This means anyone can do whatever they want with works in the public domain without violating copyright. Works can be reproduced (photocopied or scanned), translated, transformed, performed or exhibited, broadcasted or communicated to the public.

The “public domain in the copyright world” is different from the “in the domain of the public in social networks.”

As explained above, public domain is the imaginary world where works with “expired” copyright are placed together with those which did not have copyright like works of government.

As for social networking sites, photos or videos one uploads or articles or literary works posted are publicly seen and may be shared. Works uploaded or posted are accessible to the public. The public can see, read, or hear these works using their gadgets.  But it does not mean that one can re-use these photos, videos, articles or literary works in a website or physically publish them without asking permission from the author. These works are protected by copyright. Copyright protection extends to works uploaded or posted online.

Again, copyright has an expiration date. One can only be guilty of infringement or violation within the duration of copyright (lifetime of the author plus 50 years). However, one can be charged with plagiarism if s/he got a paragraph from a work in the public domain without properly citing the source.

Student-emcee Jem Bordonada at the start of the lecture.

Are only students guilty of plagiarism?

Buenaventura clarified the mistaken notion that only students are guilty of plagiarism. Due to the ease of doing a “cut and paste” and the availability of online resources, many students engage in plagiarism. 

But some teachers (in other schools he visited) were discovered to have plagiarized works to come up with research papers. In one case, he learned of how one Metro Manila university expelled its dean and some members of the faculty who plagiarized works to come up with a book!

Sadly, even high officials of the country have been exposed as plagiarists.

Dr. Gail Reyes-Galang dutifully introduced the speaker and explained the aim of the lecture for each of four batches.

But educational institutions may be guilty of copyright infringement

Buenaventura said that it is laudable for school officials to remind students not to plagiarize and maintain academic integrity. But school officials should also look at the possible violations to the other “M” which is the material (or economic) rights of authors within their premises. 

The massive and systematic photocopying (or scanning) of works for internal, institutional use is a violation of copyright. Massive means large number of students are involved. Systematic means the photocopying (or scanning) happens every semester and there is an established process of which work to copy, how many chapters will be copied, and which shop to go to. Internal, institutional use means the work is for the use of tuition-paying students and not for private, personal study.

He said “FILCOLS agrees that some photocopying (or scanning) of works inside educational institutions may be covered by Fair Use. However, the massive and systematic reproduction of works are not fair to authors and may be violations to the reproduction rights of authors. According to sec. 177.1 of IP Code (RA 8293 as amended by RA 10372), the right of reproduction belong only to the author.”

To get a thorough explanation of Fair Use in relation to systematic and massive photocopying, please read the piece "Criminals in the classroom" written by FILCOLS chair and Philippine Star columnist Dr. Isagani R. Cruz.

To show respect for copyright, it is best for educational institutions to get a license from FILCOLS. The license will legalize the reproduction of works not covered by Fair Use.

The Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IP Philippines) recently recognized FILCOLS as the collective management organization (CMO) “to collectively administer, license, and enforce the right of reproduction of authors, publishers, and right holders in the text and image sector.”

Buenaventura walks to interact with the students.

No shortcut to success and good writing

Buenaventura stressed that there is no shortcut to success. One should work hard to become successful. In the same way, there is no shortcut to writing good reports, reaction papers, and other written assignments. It takes practice to become good at writing. It takes a lot more to produce A+ written outputs.

Use online sites to hone your writing skills

He proposed that instead of using the internet to “cut and paste” from other people’s works, “you should use the tools online to hone your writing skills. You can create your own blog and practice writing. Start by writing about the things you regularly encounter. For example, you can write about how you feel after watching a movie or finishing a novel. You can write your opinion on the latest mobile phone games or apps. You can also express your opinion on fashion: bags, shoes, jeans, dresses, and accessories. You can write about your crush next door. Actually, you can write about anything that interest you. The point is that you should practice writing.”

Pamela Lauren C. Liban of the External Affairs Office asks how to protect Miriam College's intellectual properties.

Cure to plagiarism

He concluded by saying that the cure to plagiarism is truth, justice, and good old hard work. We should observe academic integrity. Keep in mind that respect for copyright is respect for the human rights of authors. If you produce works, you also want your works to be respected. There is no shortcut to good writing. But if you work hard at it, you may emerge from Miriam College intellectually developed and exemplars of the “liberating force of truth.”

A student blogger asks questions.

FILCOLS thanks Miriam College 

Buenaventura thanks the people and organizations who made the “Copyright is a Human Right” lecture possible.

They are award-winning author and FILCOLS member Debbie Ann Tan, MC’s Office of the Vice-President for Academic Affairs, the Miriam College Language Learning Center especially program officer Grace Annette B. Soriano and office assistant Ferlyn Supan, and First Year coordinator Dr. Gail Reyes-Galang.

Thanks to the student emcees Gela Santos, Jem Bordonada, Priiti Mae Bandaril, and Gia Cordero. Big thanks to MC Red Batch 2018/2019 and some from Blue Batch 2017 for their attention and active participation.

This is FILCOLS's second visit to Miriam College. Click this link to see photo of the first visit featured at the website of the Norwegian Copyright Development Association.

Text by Alvin J. Buenaventura. All photos by Ran Espiridion. This article and the photos may be re-posted as long as the authors are acknowledged.