Why Does Copyright Matter?
Thanks to advances in technology, copying has become such a trivial matter that it is easy to copy something without even thinking about it. People who copy without thinking, however, often do not think about copyright, i.e. whether or not their copying is legal. But thinking before copying is worth doing for three important reasons.
You should think before you copy to avoid breaking the law. Article I, Section 8, Clause 8 of the U.S. Constitution establishes the authority of Congress to make copyright laws, meaning that copyright is one of the fundamental principles of the U.S. Government. Though you may not take copyright seriously, be assured that the U.S. Government does. If you are guilty of copyright infringement, you can face prosecution, fines, and possibly even a prison sentence, depending on the nature of the offense. None of those consequences are worth the money and trouble you might save by illegally downloading that song or movie, or even that picture you want to use as an illustration in your report.
You should think before you copy to avoid breaking the rules. Because copyright infringement is a crime, Voorhees takes steps to protect itself from any violations its faculty, staff, and students may commit. If you are caught stealing a copyrighted work by using it without permission, you will not find a safe harbor here. Instead, you will be reported and face strict disciplinary action.
You should think before copying to avoid cheating others. Imagine if you poured countless hours of effort into painting a beautiful picture, only to have someone make a copy of it without your permission and then use that copy to boost his or her own work. Even if he or she gave you proper credit, you would probably not be happy about this happening - and justly so - because that person is effectively stealing your work by exploiting it for his or her personal gain. When you use a copyrighted work without permission, you are doing the same thing: exploiting someone else's work for personal gain. In other words, you are a thief. You would not like your own work to be stolen, so do unto others as you would have them do unto you and read the following pages to learn how to avoid copyright infringement.