Digital literacy includes understanding and following acceptable polices and understanding the consequences of inappropriate use.
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines netiquette as
"rules about the proper and polite way to communicate with other people when you are using the Internet"
or "etiquette governing communication on the Internet."
The core rules of netiquette
(from the book Netiquette by Virginia Shea).
Social media etiquette
As a digital citizen you have the right to access a huge amount of information in various formats and use it in multiple ways. However you need to remember that even resources on the public Web are not there for grabs - someone owns the copyright to them!
Copyright is a form of protection given to the authors or creators of original works, including content published on the Web. What that means is that, as the content author, you alone have the right to do any of the following or to let others do any of the following:
Anyone who exploits any of the exclusive rights of copyright without the copyright owner's permission commits copyright infringement.
The copyright law establishes some limitations on the rights of the copyright owner. One of the most important limitations on the exclusive rights is the doctrine of "Fair Use," which allows limited copying of copyrighted works for educational and research purposes.
The "Fair Use Fundamentals" infographic (PDF file) explains what fair use is, why it is important, who use it, and provides some examples of fair use.
The “Fair Use in a Day in the Life of a College Student” infographic (PDF file) created by the Association of Research Libraries shows how a college student relies on fair use numerous times in a typical day.
Unless you are absolutely sure that your use of material falls under "Fair Use" provisions, you should either seek permission to use an author's work or use works from the public domain.
Public domain is a term that applies to creative works which can be re-used by anyone in any way, and for any purpose. Works in the public domain fall into three basic categories:
The links below are examples of copyright-free resources.
Attribution of sources
Whether the material you are using is copyrighted, copyright, or covered by the Creative Commons License, it needs to be credited properly. Failure to do so constitutes plagiarism, a severe form of academic misconduct. Learn more about citing sources and avoiding plagiarism.
The following sources were consulted and adapted for this page.
University of Cincinnati Libraries
PO Box 210033 Cincinnati, Ohio 45221-0033
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