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Teachers & Intellectual Property

Updated on April 5, 2012

As a teacher, we are cautioned about copyright laws because we love to borrow and receive free things. After reading Intellectual Property (2000), I have a better understanding of what it all means. Intellectual property focuses on someone’s ideas, creations, and inventions coming into fruition. Some forms of intellectual property include: copyrights, patents, trade marks, trade secrets, and industrial design. Understanding what each form of intellectual property protects is also extremely helpful. Patents protect inventions, copyrights protect forms of expression, and trademarks protect brands, slogans, and logos (Swinson, 2000).

Academic integrity is extremely important to me because of the line of work that I am in. I value my work, my colleagues’ work, and my students work. This value is shown by honoring the copyright laws. It was interesting to identify who can claim what and under what circumstances something can be claimed. The problematic part to understand was when creating work as a part of my employment, my employer will own the copyright. Everything that I develop is work related because it is created for the betterment of my students. When it comes to my students’ work, the work that my students complete is now their own. What work do I actually own?

Understanding the complexities of intellectual properties affects the way in which I approach certain things. When approaching academic integrity, the main thing I need to heed to is, to respect other individuals’ work. Legally, when copying information for my students’ work, I need to make sure it is reproducible. There are people who work extremely hard to create and develop ideas and to use this information inappropriately would be robbing them of their hard work. From a marketing perspective, when inappropriately using the information I will be causing someone to lose money.

Academic integrity is so strongly emphasized because it is extremely relevant. Many teachers borrow and share information but is it done legally? If it is done illegally, in a sense we are providing our students with illegal documents. A lot of tools created within my classroom are done to meet the needs of an individual student. Who does that work rightfully belong to? In the end, I have to remember to identify property owners.


Swinson, J. (2000). Intellectual Property. Australian Teachers Journal, 46(3), pp. 1-6.


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