Re: On illegal software in an academic assignment ...

Subject: Re: On illegal software in an academic assignment ...
From: Ian Stewart (
Date: Sun Nov 13 2005 - 11:39:08 EST


mike mcferron writes:
> I agree with you Kevin -- this is like plagiarism, and students who use
> pirated software should face the same consequences as the students who
> purchase papers online.

Plagiarism- passing someone else's work off as your own- has nothing to do
with it, unless the student claims to have written the software. I don't
like the word 'theft' in this situation either; when a car is stolen, its
owner no longer has the car. 'Intellectual property' is also misleading.

Kevin Austin writes:
> The University asks that work which is not the student's be credited.

Is a software environment 'co-author' of any EA piece? Are EA composers
guilty of plagiarism if they don't list every piece of software they use?

Kevin Austin:
>> Try it like this:
>> "I'm looking to steal a copy of MAX/MSP so I can use it in my next class
>> assignment. I will declare it to be an illegal copy and accept the
>> consequences defined by the University Code of Conduct."

The purpose of (relevant sections of) University Codes of Conduct is to
protect the integrity of research, not to police the behaviour of
researchers. Whether research is produced using a stolen pen, illegally
photocopied library materials, or under the influence of the designer drug
du jour, the value of the research as such is unaffected. Legality of
behaviour is for the police and judiciary, not the university, except where
it affects the integrity of the research- true plagiarism, for example,
clearly falls under the university's remit. Penalize a student's research
for "plagiarism" if they've stolen a pen, CD-R, software, or laptop, well,
the penalty has nothing to do with the basis on which research should be
evaluated. And I'd bet that University Code of Conduct would support a
student grievance that claimed unfair penalty.

Send them to the cops if you must, but their work is worth the same.

Kevin Austin writes:
> One could imagine the President of a large university being asked the
> question: "It has come to light that students in your audio programs are
> using illegal software. Does your university support or condone such
> violations of applicable copyright laws?"

Or- researchers in your labs produced their Nobel Prize-winning paper under
the influence of amphetamines. Does the university support or condone? The
answer will probably be no, but does that make the research any less

all the best,

(and no, I do not use illegally copied software)

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