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Cultural Contexts of Intellectual Property

There are two ways to look at the effect cultural context has on how students’ might approach plagiarism. Both revolve around questions of whether published work and knowledge can be considered "intellectual property". In the U.S., we have quite strict intellectual property laws. This is not the case in other national contexts, and thus, some students educated in other countries may, quite rightly, have a different conception for what is “fair use” of previously published work or of how collaboratively developed research findings should be reported.

Within the U.S. context, changing technologies and access to information via the Web have had a similar effect on perceptions about what kinds of intellectual property constitute “fair use” and which do not. As all of us—but particularly the younger generation raised in a digital environment—use web resources more and more widely, the lines between what is “common property” and what is “protected” have become blurred.