When you do your homework, you will
often want to copy text, diagrams or pictures. There are laws that
prevent this kind of copying. Without such law, the argument goes,
the writers could not earn a living, so these things would not be
published in the first place.
The good news is that you are allowed to copy things for school
work - thanks to an exception to copyright law, called "fair
dealing" in South Africa and the UK and "fair use" in the US. This lets you copy for
private use, if you don't make multiple copies and if the copying
has no significant economic effect on the owner of the copyright.
So, do copy things for your history
project, don't put them into
magazines to sell to your friends.
Copyright in South Africa extends for 50
years after the death of an author.
Teachers want you to find things out. But
you should do more than "copy and paste". Sometimes what you find
is so well written that you can't see how to change it. One way is
to make notes, delete the original text, and go back later to write
your own version from the notes. An alternative is to show that you have copied someone
else's work, by putting it in quotation marks. Most word-processing
software has built-in tools to show you how to set out
Internet technology makes it possible to
organise cheating online. American learners can buy essays ("term
papers") from specialist websites, nicknamed "paper mills". This
isn't clever. It's wrong - you would know you hadn't really done
the work. And it's easy to get found out - teachers can take a
complete sentence from your work and run it through a search
engine. If the original text from which you copied is anywhere
online, the search engine will find you out.
Sometimes you will use Internet
technologies to help with homework - e-mail, chat or websites. Be
sensible with anything that brings you into contact with strangers.
If these are other learners, teachers or web educators, you should
have no problems. It's not wise to give out personal information,
like a name and address, or post your picture on the web.