Writing in Digital Environments

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Plagiarism and Copyright (and some advice on the Blog Analysis)

Below is our agenda for today’s class followed by some final advice for completing the Blog Analysis project, which includes a sample analysis of The Pioneer Woman’s blog.

Class session agenda

Go to Canvas and complete the WTL #5 on Copyright, Plagiarism, and Remix

Review the Blog Analysis assignment

Read over the Blog Analysis and the example post to see if there are any questions.

Review the Research Journals assignment
Review the Research Journal criteria to prepare you for future material for your blog posts. These will be a bi-weekly assignment that are due on every other Tuesday starting on Sept. 27.

Discuss plagiarism and copyright and the difference between the two. 
Read the examples of five separate plagiarism cases outlined in the article, 5 famous plagiarism and fraud accusations in the book world. Do they all seem equal in their ethical violations? Should there be legal consequences in each case? Issues to consider during our discussion:

  • citation v. remix
  • writing/print v. other forms of media
  • what is creativity? what is originality?
  • what about an artist’s ability to make a living from her art?

Copyright & Plagiarism Discussion

Lessig’s argument against current U.S. Copyright law (that you will watch in its entirety before class Thursday—see homework below) hinges on his reading of the copyright clause in the Constitution:


His goal is to balance the rights of an artist to make money from his/her creation with the need for science and the arts (i.e., our culture) to advance by building on (i.e., remixing) previous work.

This brings us back to our list of questions/issues from the WTL:

  • citation v. remix v. piracy
    • two changes in code: technology and law
  • writing/print v. other forms of media
  • what is creativity? what is originality?
  • what about an artist’s ability to make a living from her art?
  • What is fair use?

Danielle DeVoss and James Porter’s article (that you will read for Thursday) asks us to think about remix as a form of writing, one that is essential to communication and creativity in the digital age and one that changes how we should think about plagiarism and citation (and by extension, the economic models by which artist make a living from their art). One of their primary examples is a politically motivated remix of the 2004 Pepsi/iTunes Superbowl commercial that featured some of the teenagers who were prosecuted for illegally downloading music from the Internet. Let’s look at it in order to work through some of the questions/issues listed above.

Here is the original commercial:

Here is the remix:

Honor Pledge Drafting

After discussing the readings and our own positions on what should count as plagiarism and copyright violations in the digital age, we will craft our own version of the CSU honor pledge that fits the context of our course. The standard honor pledge reads as follows:

On my honor as a student, I pledge that I will not receive or give any unauthorized assistance on the assignments for this course.

Here is a version that students in a previous section of CO302 composed:

On my honor as a writer and participant in online spaces, I pledge that I will not claim anyone else’s work as my own regardless of medium or mode of communication (writing, sound, image, video, etc.); I will always provide attribution for the work of others that appears within my projects for this class. I also pledge that when including images and other media in the projects for this class I will, whenever possible, use freely licensed or public domain materials. When it is necessary for me to use copyrighted material for the purposes of social, cultural, or political critique or artistic remix I will abide by what I believe to be an ethical and legal interpretation of the fair use doctrine.

The CO302-specific honor pledge covers both plagiarism and copyright ethics and leaves room for the student to rhetorically justify uses of copyrighted materials that might be outside the letter of the law, but would be in keeping with Kleon, Lessig, or DeVoss & Porter’s philosophies.  Be prepared to draft a new version of the honor pledge in class on Thursday!

Questions on About pages, Welcome pages, header images, or the Blog Analysis project?

Here are some resources about creating static pages and menu items in wordpress:
Link to article about page basics
Link to a help article for menu items
Video instruction