Writing in Digital Environments

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Plagiarism, Copyright, and the Honor Pledge Cont’d

Class Agenda

  1. Tech Presentation: Group #2–Buzzfeed
  2. What is plagiarism in the digital age?
  3. Copyright Discussion
  4. Learn how to add a Creative Commons license to your blog
  5. Honor Pledge
  6. Wrap-up

Copyright & Plagiarism Discussion

Participation Activity: Log in to Canvas‘ ‘Discuission’ section and answer WTL #6: Take 5 minutes to write out your thoughts about what plagiarism consists of in the digital age.  Remember that plagiarism is the ethical side of using other people’s material.

Here is our running list of questions/issues we should consider with a few additions in orange:

  • citation v. remix v. piracy
    • two changes in code—technology and law—created a copyright crisis (Lessig and Devoss & Porter, p. 188)
    • file sharing and remix rely on the ethic of citation (Devoss & Porter, p. 186-187)
  • writing/print v. other forms of media
  • producers v. consumers (Devoss & Porter, p. 190-191)
  • what is creativity? what is originality?
  • what about an artist’s ability to make a living from her art?
  • What is fair use?
  • What does ethos have to do with all of this?

Let’s continue using the remix of the 2004 Pepsi/iTunes Superbowl commercial to explore these issues and then look at the controversy over the selling of “Who Dat Nation” t-shirts when the Saints were in the Super Bowl.

Here is the original commercial:

Here is the remix:

When the New Orleans Saints were in the Super Bowl several years ago, street vendors began selling “Who Dat Nation” t-shirts that featured the fleur-de-lis image:


The NLF sought to stop the production of these shirts because it claimed it owned the excessive right to use the fleur-de lis in conjunction with football. Ultimately, what it wanted was control over the profits generated by these shirts and the right to trademark the phrase “Who Dat Nation.” Should they have such exclusive rights to a phrase made popular by fans and originally taken from an Aaron Neville  song? If not the NFL, who, if anyone, should have such rights?

Honor Pledge Drafting

DeVoss & Porter ask writing teachers to reevaluate their approaches to plagiarism (p. 202-203) and I invite you to help me with this by collaboratively authoring our class honor pledge. 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.

What should ours look like?  Suggest some revisions you see that would be appropriate for the way our class wants to address this issue.


Read: Sirc, What is Composition After Duchamp?
Listen: What is Original?