The Larger percentage of undergraduates pay less attention to copyright law or intellectual property, plagiarism, fair use, paraphrasing and how to deal with them especially as it related to internet publications and materials. The research, therefore, aims at appraising copyright law awareness among students on the internet publication among Kwara State University, Malete with the sole objective to know if Internet publications or materials enjoy copyright law or not and to what extent, because plagiarism is a criminal offence in an academic sphere
- Background of the study
Copyright is a type of intellectual property right that protects certain original works. Copyright laws work to provide authors with exclusive rights to their works. In other words, any unauthorized use could amount to copyright infringement. Copyright infringement is a federal, civil cause of action. It occurs when a copyrighted works is reproduced, distributed, performed, publicly displayed, or made into a derivative work without the permission of the copyright owner. Infringement in this context includes piracy, plagiarism of text, using photocopying machines to produce several copies of copyrighted material, duplication of web pages, etc. There is increasing concern on the copyright infringement among undergraduate students in tertiary institution. For instance, (Aboyade, Aboyade and Ajala, 2015; Williams, 2005) postulated that copyright infringement is not a new phenomenon in the academic environment.
This issue of copyright infringement usually affects the economy of the copyright owner. It is on this note that according to Moahi (2004) and Isiakpona, 2012), an understanding of copyright is particularly important in an academic, scholarly and artistic environment where creators are continuously using the influence. The increasing awareness of copyright law and possible punishment for violating the law was rated as the most fundamental way of reducing copyright infringement. Information is usually viewed as very vital to undergraduate students. It could also be seen as the driving force behind the development of different sectors in any nation (Ifidon, 1999). People in different spheres of life (including undergraduate students) need information about new developments and techniques to improve existing practices and better their lives.
The type of information transferred varies from person to person and from society to society and with time. Copyright infringement takes place (either consciously or unconsciously). This is because a reasonable number of undergraduate students cannot afford to purchase textbooks. They therefore look for alternative means of acquiring these learning resources. Studies have shown that only 5% of students in higher institutions can afford to purchase textbooks needed for learning and research and as a result, these students tend to engage in the act of photocopying, thereby infringing on the copyright of the author. (Ogunronbi and Bello, 1999). Institutions today provide students with well-designed learning packages available on the course websites that have been created by the authors as a support service for the students (Selim, 2005). The copyright law does not cover any course materials that are transmitted or taught through distance learning or digital transmission. Thus, the author’s work is unprotected (Mason 1998) and dispute remains on the royalties of the work (Princeton, 1996). Changes appeared after the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Copyright Treaty 1996, where the technology-specific transmission type-rights were extended to wireless broadcast rights and limited cable diffusion rights. These rights are applicable to work made available on the internet and transmitted to the public (Dunning, 2006). The Act does not define ‘public’; but the court held that communication to individuals in a private or domestic setting can be constituted as ‘public’ (Telstar, 1997). The Copyright Act 1957 was established to promote art and science for the advantage of the public and to protect the work of authors (Sony, 1984). However, growing concern occurring causes threats to the copyright owner (Fraser, 1997). Such lack of awareness and knowledge of the copyright infringement is escalating among the learners of university students. This study aims to investigate awareness and attitude of university students towards copyright laws on internet materials.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Literature, both recent and past has established that copyright laws are very important for better creativity on the part of the authors and protection of intellectual content of their work. However, it is not certain if information users actually have a reasonable level of knowledge of these copyright laws as a means of protecting the intellectual creativity of respective authors. They might have reasonable level of knowledge of these but still infringe on the laws. It is also believed that in Nigeria, the copyright law is not as effective as expected since no proper mechanism is put in place to curb infringement. Various forms of infringement are still practised on a reasonable scale in higher institution of learning despite the copyright laws. The concern of this study therefore is to determine the level of knowledge and the different perceptions of undergraduate students in the University of Ibadan on the issue of copyright law and its infringement.