Gathering Information Online

One of the great things about doing research on the Internet is that you can download text directly onto a hard drive or floppy disk rather than take notes by hand. Better still, you can spruce up your research paper by reproducing multimedia files such as images and even video or sound clips. (Of course, to include a video or sound clip you will have to hand in your research paper as a digital file, but submission on disk is becoming increasingly common in colleges and universities.)

Remember to respect the intellectual property rights of the person who owns the copyright to the material you download. Be sure that you understand--and obey--the U.S. copyright doctrine of "fair use." (See "Copyright Law and the Ethics of Research" in chapter 12 of The Research Process, and consult Copyright and Trademark Law from LexisNexis.)  You may freely download text and multimedia files from this CD, for example, and use them in an unpublished research paper. But the instant you publish the paper in any form--and that includes posting it on the Web--you must contact me to secure my permission, just as I had to contact all the authors whose work I used in The Research Process and on this CD. (Usually authors ask for a modest fee or a free copy of the publication in which their work will appear.)

Be aware that there are million of false copyright notices on the Web, usually resulting from ignorance rather than from outright fraudulent intent. (For example, use a search engine to survey the many Web sites on Sylvia Plath that contain the texts of her poems. Virtually every single one violates the property rights of Olwyn Hughes (the executor of Plath's estate) and Faber & Faber (Plath's publisher). You cannot secure valid permission from one of the perhaps well-intentioned, admiring, but ignorant Plath fans who have posted this material; you can secure permission only through Hughes and Faber & Faber.

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