It is so interesting how the Digital Age has transformed our perceptions of laws and regulations. Regarding copyright, much of what I read and hear has to do with its legal and financial ramifications. This makes some kind of sense, considering in large part our Democratic government and Capitalist economy. Laws can change, and I agree with the majority of the class that a newer, more appropriate scheme may very well improve accessibility while encouraging the advancements in knowledge, culture, art, etc. With that said, ethical issues such as plagiarism that branches off the legal aspects of copyright, must also be reviewed, as both can involve making the claim that something is original when in fact it has already been produced.
According to this New York Times article, incidence of plagiarism at the collegiate level in the United States is rising exponentially. This is interesting, as today’s college students represent a generation that has mostly come of age in our current digital era. All in all, it’s difficult for me to separate the reverberating dialogue concerning copyright and free-use laws from this rise in unethical academic practices. According to the article, a percentage of students who plagiarized apparently believe that information found on the Internet is considered “common-knowledge”, and therefore is authorless and subject to use without proper and ethical credit.
The ramifications of changing copyright laws will undoubtedly affect many other branches of our society, like our education system. Being taught to site sources, I think, serves as a much larger cultural tool than merely providing a list of references. It allows us to submerge ourselves in differing ideas, provides us the tools to understand and accept criticism, all the while encouraging argument and dissent (which I think is almost as American as you can get!). I agree that copyright and intellectual property issues may very well need reform, but I am also wary of how such reform will affect nearly everything.