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The new means of reproduction for teaching and research – photocopying, downloading, optical scanning – present special challenges to intellectual property teachers. As researchers and educators, we may rejoice at the vastly enhanced access these technologies afford to an enormous, and ever-growing, diversity of materials. The convenience of the photocopier is well-known. Digital media will accelerate production and dissemination of copies. Not only will computers, scanners and facsimile machines make it easier and faster to copy, but they will facilitate the dispersal of copies to all points of the globe.

As scholars of intellectual property, we may be concerned about the economic and moral rights implications these technologies hold for authors and publishers. Regarding moral rights, the partial reproduction of works always carries the danger of distorting the author's message. Consider the computer storage of an optically scanned book. Once the work is in digital form, it is very easy to excerpt, and thus very easy to take out of context. This is particularly true if a portion of the scanned work is sent to a recipient who is unable to consult the full text of the work. In addition, unless digitized excerpts are carefully labelled, they risk incorporation in the user's work without attribution. Put more bluntly, copying in digital media creates new opportunities for plagiarism. Hence, a potential danger to another moral right, that of so-called Paternity (better labelled Attribution).


Intellectual Property Law | Law