ABSTRACT: The research evaluates copyright law awareness of the Internet publication among students with the sole objective to know if Internet publications and materials enjoy copyright law or not and to what extent because plagiarism is a criminal offence in an academic sphere which is not taken for granted. However, referencing and appropriate citations are used to attribute the originators of idea used in the course of writing and presentations. Today, many undergraduates and some lecturers pay less attention to what constitute copyright or intellectual property, plagiarism, fair use, paraphrasing and how to deal with them. Referencing internet publications and posts is one of the gimmicks used. The study was anchored on Technological Determinism Theory. A survey research method was adopted coupled with 200 copies of questionnaires that were administered to students and lecturers of which 193 copies were retrieved. Internet publishing is no more a hidden phenomenon but a concept that has taken a root in this global world of ours. Although Internet users do download copy, convert, edit some Internet materials or copies such as; pictures, graphics, typography sounds, music, movies, ringing tones, WebPages, documentaries games, articles, and lots more does not make internet publishing a free source of information without any gatekeeper, therefore, copyright law subsist on internet materials usually original. It is essential to sensitize the internet users on what can be copyrighted and what capable of putting them into trouble by organizing online seminars, conferences or normal conferences e.t.c
1.1 Background to the Study
Human activities and events have been altered by the emergence of the internet especially in the last few decades. One of the aspects of life that has been seriously redefined is information, communication and education. Before now, students rely majorly on the literary and primary data to gain knowledge and understanding regards any phenomenon.
Having access to the Internet comes with its various advantages and one of such benefits is the ability to access millions of academic books and materials. However, the accessibility of the internet on the mobiles and computers is now essential to everyday life of students because they are solutions to assignments, projects and research. Obviously, students no longer wish to read and searching academic materials in the library, what they do is to “ask google”, thus, making the busiest activities on the internet to be “searching” for information and no wonder Google Search Engine is the most visited website in the world (Alexa, 2017).
It should be noted that there is no crime in using the Internet materials for academic advancement but the abuse of such privilege is the concern of this study because many students neither cite nor reference internet materials use in their assignments and research which arises from lack of knowledge of copyright or plagiarism, lecturers pays less attention to such details, lack of effective instrument to measure and judge the materials until the recent when anti-plagiarism software surfaced. Despite the popularity of these anti-plagiarism software; many schools are yet to adopt it, while many even criticise it efficiency and efficacy.
There are lots of materials on the Internet that are available for public use. However, the author of the work must have explicitly granted it to public domain. If a work is in public domain, granted by saying “I grant this to the public domain,” anybody who stumbles upon it can use, take, or copy without giving credit to the owner. Although, frequently a user can contact the author of the work and be granted permission to use it, which can be done through electronic-mail by sending a request to use such work. Christopher (1996) writes that requesting permission is not hard as most times the owner quickly grants a user access and respects him or her more for asking.
Lack of knowledge makes the Internet users unintentionally break the copyright laws that govern the Internet. Many myths have caused people to believe that copyright laws do not subsist to the Internet materials and online publications. Another problem is that, people believe if a work has no copyright notice, it is not copyrighted. The correct form of a copyright notice is “Copyright or (date) by (author/owner)”. Many people believe that if this notice is absent, they can post, use, or take any work on the Internet (Christopher, 1996).
Therefore, copyright is the creative arm of Intellectual Property Rights, the other being the industrial arm consisting of patents, labels, trade mark etc. “The right to prepare and distribute copies of an intellectual production’“. i.e the monopoly right conferred by law on a person or an. institution to do or to restrain others from doing certain acts with respect to the author’s original literary, musical or artistic work. Onwubiko (2005) cited Blacks Law Dictionary (n.d) defines copyright as:
The right of literary property as recognised and sanctioned by positive law. An intangible incorporeal right granted by statute to the author or originator of certain literary or artistic productions, whereby he is invested for a limited period, with the sole and exclusive privilege of multiplying copies of the same and publishing and selling them.
It is in the light of the foregoing that the precept of copyright is moulded universally around the intermediation between facilitating the personal enjoyment by the creator or author of the products of his efforts and also to ensure that the public benefits from the work. It should be realised from the onset that there is no concept of international copyright law in the sense of a copyright legislation with a universal application. Howbeit, international copyright relies on international treaties such as the Berne Convention, Universal Copyright Convention, Rome Convention and so on, and the national legislations of member states of these treaties.
Arowosegbe (2009) highlighted some of the works which are eligible for copyright. They include the followings: literary work; musical works; artistic works; cinematograph films; sound recordings; and broadcasts. The law of intellectual property has thus been developed to encourage people who have the zeal to put more effort and ingenuity into the development of diverse creative works ensuring that such people enjoy the fruits of their labour without been stolen by another. This law covers the area of print, electronic and even to the recent internet which is the focus of this work.
It is against this background that the research examine the knowledge of copyright law on the internet materials among KWASU students with the view to know the extent at which they are aware of the copyright law because ignorance is not acceptable in law and because plagiarism is become more a common phenomenon in the academic sphere especially among undergraduates.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Having access to the Internet comes with its various advantages and one of such benefits is the ability to access millions of academic database, books and materials. However, the accessibility of the internet on the mobiles and computers is now essential to everyday life of students because they are solutions to assignments, projects and research to students. Obviously, students no longer wish to read and searching academic materials in the library, what they do is to “ask google”. This is where the thrust of this study emerged because many did not deem it fit to acknowledge the sources.
However, lack of knowledge makes the Internet users unintentionally break the copyright laws that govern the Internet. Many myths have caused people to believe that copyright laws do not subsist to the Internet materials and online publications. Another problem is that, people believe if a work has no copyright notice, it is not copyrighted. The correct form of a copyright notice is “Copyright or (date) by (author/owner)”. Many people believe that if this notice is absent, they can post, use, or take any work on the Internet.
The study thus, examines the knowledge of copyright law on the internet materials among KWASU students. Although, there are empirical studies available on the aspect of this study but many focused on the impact of the internet on academic performance, on social life and social internet with much emphasis on social media in the likes of Adeyeye (2016), Adeniran (2015), Anyanwu and Ossai-Onah (2013)
Also, few or no research has been specifically done on the copyright law awareness and knowledge about the internet materials on students of tertiary institutions in Nigeria. Even where it exists, it was not conducted in Nigeria, meaning that it cannot be completely replicated in Nigeria due to the demographical variables of the users and internet exposure
This study is therefore, specifically examine the knowledge of copyright law about the internet materials among KWASU students in order to know their extent of copyright law awareness, knowledge and compliance.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
- To ascertain the extent at which Kwara State University students are aware that copyright law subsist on the Internet materials.
- To know whether Kwara State University students do cite and reference authors or sources of materials use in their assignments and research.
1.4 Research Questions
- To what extent do Kwara State University students aware that copyright law subsist on the Internet materials?
- Do Kwara State University students cite and reference authors or sources of materials use in their assignments and research?
1.5 Significance of the Study
The research of this nature will no doubt beneficial to lots of individuals, higher institutions of learning and other educational institutes. In concrete term, the study will achieve the following:
The study will help students and youth scholars to understand the importance of copyright law, the materials and publications that copyright subsist, knowing the concept of Fair Use and Plagiarism among other terms in order to improve and adjust to the standard.
This study will give a clear insight into how copyright works and how to treat copyright materials especially the Internet publications in order to remove the myth that the everything on the Internet is free and can be used anyhow.
Nigerian students will find this research useful as it will enable them to know how to effectively employ the Internet for academic advancement rather than frivolity
This study will be beneficial to the management and lecturers of Kwara State University, Malete and other tertiary institutions on the need to introduce anti-plagiarism software such as Turnitin to police and curb abuse of the Internet materials among the students.
Future researchers and scholars who many what to carry out research in this area or related aspect will find this material very useful and serve as reference material. Above all, this study will serve as an addition to existing literature on the topic.
1.6 Scope of the study
This research which examines the knowledge of copyright law on the internet materials has been narrowed in scope to the students in Kwara State University, Malete, Ilorin due to the fact that pre-research observation shows that KWASU students use internet materials lots especially among final year students. Other reason for selecting the institution is because of its proximity to the researcher.
1.7 Operational Definition of Terms
Knowledge: This refers to the level of copyright law awareness that students of Kwara State University students have on internet materials.
Copyright Law: This is the law that protect all online original materials (blog/websites posts, comments, journals, video, photographs) etc that KWASU students use in the cause of writing assignments and research.
Internet Materials: There are various online materials such as blogs, websites, journals, search engines, wikipedia, science direct, encyclopaedia, online dictionaries, online diaries, e-books etc that students of Kwara State University Malete are employing in while doing assignments and research.
Kwasu Students: These comprised all undergraduate students of the Kwara State University, Malete, Nigeria at the time of this research.