Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Should Each Professor Decide Academic Dishonesty Consequences?

A faculty committee calls for standards in academic integrity penalties ("UNR Faculty Push for Consistent Cheating Penalties," Reno Gazette-Journal, April 27, 2016). The article mentioned that a recommendation from a campus group was to have faculty report cheating issues to "an online portal" and educate professors and students on academic integrity policies. The chair of the campus group mentioned that she believes some professors do not report cheating because it is seen as a problematic process and instead impose their own punishments that can be lenient while others are harsh.

Discussion Questions:
  1. The article mentions the importance of "catching students" when they first begin college classes to cut down on cheating. Do you think the article suggests that the college is mainly interested in punishing students to stop them from committing further academic dishonesty? Why or why not?
  2. Do you think professors should have the right to decide penalties for cheating in their classes? Or should professors be able to choose academic dishonesty penalties only from a range of options approved by a college or university? Why or why not?
  3. Do you believe that students need to be more informed on what actions are academically dishonest so they know how to avoid cheating and plagiarism? Why or why not?

Monday, May 16, 2016

Olympic Logo Plagiarism Issue Resolved

The newly redesigned Tokyo Summer Games logo was recently revealed to be quite different than the first version that was seen as plagiarizing a Belgian theater's logo ("Tokyo 2020 Unveils New Olympic Logo after Plagiarism Allegations," The Guardian (UK), April 25, 2016). The total revamp of the Olympic logo was done by a different designer after the creator of the theater's graphic commenced litigation to stop the use of the original Tokyo 2020 logo.

Discussion Questions:
  1. Do you think it was an accident that the two designers created a somewhat similar logo? Why or why not?
  2. Do you think it's easier to avoid plagiarism with words vs. plagiarism with images? Why or why not?

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Google Books Can Keep Scanning Copyrighted Titles

Google get to continue digitizing books, making sections of them available online for free ("Supreme Court Declines to Hear Google Books Case," PC Magazine, April 18, 2016). Lower court opinion stands that even though Google did not ask for authors' permission, it is not acting against copyright laws by scanning and uploading newer books, since it only provides a look at them instead of full access as it does for older titles in the public domain. Google called its service a "card catalog for the digital age," an valid application of fair use. The Authors Guild argued for creators' rights in this litigation.

Discussion Questions:
  1. Do you use Google Books to find answers to research questions? Do you think your free use of copyrighted and public domain titles in Google Books is fair to the writers and publishers of that information? Why or why not?
  2. Do you use Google Books to decide whether you want to purchase a book? Do you think Google Books promotes the interests of authors by making portions of their books available online for free? Why or why not?

Friday, March 4, 2016

Freely Available Art Work for Educational Use Encouraged by Artist's Foundation

Another sign of the power of the digital age is that free, non-commercial use of an artist's images is being promoted by his foundation to further understanding of his work ("Rauschenberg Foundation Eases Copyright Restrictions on Art," The New York Times, February 26, 2016). The Robert Rauschenberg Foundation wants a prospective user to request high-resolution images from them, so the best depiction of the artist's work is "on display" with correct attribution. This new practice of the allowing free use of the artist's images will cost the foundation "nearly half its image-rights income which has been slightly more than $100,000 a year." But foundation executives believe that the deceased artist himself would want to foster scholarship with this new policy.

Discussion Questions:
  1. Do you applaud this foundation's new practice of promoting free use of Robert Rauschenberg's images for nonprofit use? Why or why not?
  2. Do you think if other artists followed the Rauschenberg Foundation in making images available for free nonprofit/educational use, that they would lament the fact that they are losing income? Why or why not?
  3. Do you think this action will make Rauschenberg's works more popular and in turn, encourage more for-profit use of his art?

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Unethical Actions of Employees Added to a Database?

To improve the reputation of financial firms in light of recent scandals, bankers are discussing the creation of a database to keep track of ethical lapses that violate business codes ("Wall Street Mulls Naughty List for Ethically Challenged Bankers," Bloomberg Business, December 22, 2015). This list would be available only to banking-related companies that are regulated by federal agencies such as the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and the Federal Reserve System (Fed) in their quest to screen job applicants. A few issues about this new plan have yet to be decided, but this system is supposed to provide employees with the right to challenge false information in their profile.

Discussion Questions:
  1. Do you think an unethical employee database is a good idea that other companies beyond banking should develop? Why or why not?
  2. Would you be less likely to engage in unethical behavior that's not necessarily illegal, if you knew your name and misdeed may be added to a database that can be searched by prospective employers? Why or why not?
  3. This plan mentions that employees could dispute errors in the database but doesn't say how erroneous information would be removed from the database. Do you think it would be commonplace for employers with a grudge against an employee to add misinformation to a worker's profile? Why or why not?

Monday, October 26, 2015

Can Volkswagen Ever Be Trusted?

Volkswagen's faulty emissions scandal negatively impacted much more than air quality ("VW Employees Responsible for 'Dieselgate:' Where's the Legal, Moral, & Ethical Compass?" Philadelphia Business Journal, October 5, 2015)? Stanley W. Silverman, article author and Chairman of the Board at Drexel University College of Medicine, notes that it is likely that VW caused deaths as a result of adding to the air some "10 to 40 times more nitrogen oxides (NOx) than allowed by regulation" (see also: Cheating Cost 5 to 20 Lives a Year, Data Show from Philly.com, October 6, 2015). Silverman suggests that a large number of employees had to know about this deliberate deception.

Discussion Questions:
  1. If you knew that your company was engaging in deliberate illegal acts, would you act with honor and blow the whistle? Why or why not?
  2. Should VW change its name? Would it make a difference in getting people to buy its vehicles? Why or why not?
  3. Should VW executives be fined instead of the company itself? Why or why not?

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Hacking the Astros: How Unethical Actions Affect Baseball

An alleged security breach of the Astros by the Cardinals may demonstrate that some have not learned ethical lessons from recent sports scandals ("St. Louis Cardinals Hacking Allegations Raise Ethical, Encryption Concerns, Stanford Law Expert Says," Stanford Report, June 18, 2015)? A Stanford University corporate legal expert suggests that Major League Baseball should be proactive and run its own investigation to demonstrate a commitment to fair play.

Discussion Questions:
  1. What punishment, if any, should players on the field receive for non-players who work for the Cardinals organization attempting to get an unfair advantage by stealing proprietary information from another team?
  2. Do you think sports teams are willing to do anything to win, even if actions are illegal or unethical?
  3. Do you think sports teams regularly get current players to disclose inside information about former teams for which they played? Is it just part of the game? Is it ethical?