Protecting intellectual property

What can we as parents do to teach our children to respect digital resources, copyright and intellectual property?

Introduction: Safe and responsible practices online include protecting reputation and property. With this in mind, our young people need to avoid plagiarism, breaching copyright, Peer to Peer file sharing (P2P). Apart from these practices being illegal and carrying hefty fines, breaching copyright laws and disregarding appropriate use of material is both immoral and unethical. Sharing of material can lead to viruses being spread and more. For more on researching and safe internet management, go to NetSafe's Parents & Caregivers - Downloading and Uploading

Students need strategies to help them take key information from websites as part of their research without breaking copyright or plagiarising the work of other authors. Plagiarism, put simply is, "A piece of writing that has been copied from someone else and is presented as being your own work." The media presentation above outlines several types of plagiarism - from the subtle through to the most obvious forms of copying.

* A study by The Center for Academic Integrity found that almost 80% of college students admit to cheating at least once.
* According to a survey by the Psychological Record 36% of undergraduates have admitted to plagiarizing written material.
* A poll conducted by US News and World Reports found that 90% of students believe that cheaters are either never caught or have never been appropriately disciplined.

Source – Plagiarism.ORG

Recommendation: Talk to your child about the different types of plagiarism. Share some strategies that will enable them to create their own work authentically and while avoiding plagiarising other people's material. For some strategies for researching go to,

Internet Piracy
Downloading illegal material is a huge problem today. Most people think that if stuff is freely available on the Internet, then there is nothing wrong? Right? Wrong. The truth is, we are damaging the very industries that provide this material and eventually ourselves. This not only becomes a legal issue, but a moral and ethical dilemma. In Illegal downloading: How do you explain it to the kids? Erin Anderssen writes, "And the fact that the tech industry sells devices that make file-sharing easier, and that blank CDs come with the levy, makes the situation even fuzzier to explain", he says. "The very industry that tells them it's bad is sending mixed messages." "...Why else would you sell home consumers a 2-terabyte hard drive that streams video to their television through a Playstation 3 unless you're assuming they'll be downloading content online?"

Internet piracy - a definition

Internet piracy is the unlawful reproduction and/or distribution of any copyrighted digital file that can change hands over the Internet. This can be done with music files, videos and movies, e-books, software, and other materials. Those who engage in Internet piracy can often conduct their entire operation on the Internet, including advertising and sales. Internet piracy has become a worldwide crime problem, because of the relative ease with which it can be committed, even over long distances.

Source -

So, what do we need to know about internet piracy as adults? How do we explain it to our kids? and make them understand that under today's law this is wrong?

Suggestion: Talk to your child about how they are using their computer to access, share music, videos and other files, piracy and illegal downloading and uploading. Explain the issues and consequences (who will pay) of file sharing and copyright infringement (who loses out when they don't get paid for their work).

Talk about alternative ways to create and access material safely, responsibly and legally. For example, there are a wide variety of ways to pay for music online. "You can download individual songs or albums, stream music through an online radio or listen to a huge library of tracks on your computer or music player for a monthly subscription. For links to over 500 legal music retailers worldwide, go to and find a service that operates in your country."

For more support, go to NetSafe's External Resources about File sharing and Copyright infringement. Some more great tips for parents can be accessed at Are your kid's downloads on the up and up?

Copyright and Creative Commons
While many children have a clear understanding of theft in relation to physical objects such as a pencil or DVD from a shop, many do not understand why taking digital resources from websites or file sharing digital content from copyrighted sources is a problem. As parents and educators, we need to ensure that our kids are aware of the law and the impact of using other people's material without permission. There are positive alternatives, such as Creative Commons.

Copyright - a definition

“It is a basic principle of copyright that the expression of an idea in an original work is legally protected by copyright as soon as it becomes 'recorded in material form' (viewable by others). In other words, write it down, draw, record, or film it, and the original material is automatically protected by copyright. The author does not have to register the work to claim copyright in New Zealand – the act of putting the idea into a fixed format establishes copyright.
Source – TKI – What is copyright

Creative Commons aims to establish a fair middle way between the extremes of copyright control and the uncontrolled uses of intellectual property. It provides a range of copyright licences, freely available to the public, which allow those creating intellectual property – including authors, artists, educators and scientists – to mark their work with the freedoms they want it to carry. Explanation from the Creative Commons New Zealand website. For more explanations on Creative Commons, go to

Suggestion: Read through the following tips for parents and try to put into practice where possible.

• Be a positive role model as a digital parent
One of the reasons that younger people often feel it is OK to take digital material is that they see this modeled around them all the time. Ensure you model how to use appropriate material inside and outside the home.

• Have high expectations of your children
While it may be more time consuming, you should expect that your children will make the effort to respect content creators accessing, using or creating presentations for school work. If they are old enough to search the internet for themselves, then they are old enough to make sure that they follow copyright guidelines. Expect that they will always cite their sources or create their own material.

• Give your children resources and strategies to 'stay legal'
Make it easy for students to access material that they are able to use. Put links to Creative Commons search engines on your home computer. Bookmark these. See for more details on Creative Commons resources, go to

Work with your children on ways to take information from the web without copying and pasting to avoid plagiarism. See information on plagiarism above and information at

Recommendation: Become more familiar with all of the issues outlined on this page by reading through the resources below.

Subject Author Replies Views Last Message
What strategies have you used to help with homework? tessagray tessagray 0 115 Oct 13, 2010 by tessagray tessagray

Additional resources to consider:

Illegal downloading: How do you explain it to the kids?

ICT PD Digital citizenship and copyright module - Piracy and illegal downloading

You tube - A Fair(y) Use Tale