​Responsible Use of Electronic Resources and Policy on Plagiarism

Policy on Resonsible Use of Electronic Resources; Use of Copyrighted Material on Columbia's Computer System and Network

You may be held legally liable if you have downloaded music, movies, or other files without permission from the copyright owner.

Copyright Law and Policy

  • To copy, distribute, share, or store any information or material on the Internet will infringe the copyright for that information or material, unless the user has the express permission of the copyright owner or the user qualifies for a legal exception under the law.
  • All network users must comply with federal copyright law. Violations of copyright law are also violations of University policy. Copyright protection covers any original work of authorship that is fixed in some tangible medium of expression. A work is protected from the moment it is created, and it does not have to contain a copyright notice to qualify for protection. What this broad protection means is that just about any work you come across, including software, books, music, film, video, articles, cartoons, pictures, and email, whether on the Internet, a CD, DVD, or tape, is likely to be protected by copyright. While there are exceptions under the law that allow the copying or distribution of copyrighted works, it is fair to say that the use of peer-to-peer software programs to make and share copies of copyrighted music and movies, without permission of the copyright owner, would virtually never qualify for an exception.


  • By using University electronic resources and services you assume personal responsi­bility for their appropriate use and agree to comply with all relevant University policies, as well as State and Federal laws and regulations.

  • For more on copyright compliance and University requirements click here
  • For complete information on the University's Computer and Network Use Policy click here
  • For all University Computing and Technology Policies click here

Abuses of network privilege are a matter of student conduct and are dealt with by the Office of the Vice President of the Health Sciences.

Copyright Abuse 

  • The University must take immediate action when notified of copyright infractions. You will be notified of the alleged illegal activity and your network access may be terminated until you have corrected the problem. You are personally responsible for any violation and subject to legal action on the part of the copyright holder. A copyright owner can request a subpoena requiring the University to identify a person engaging in unauthorized copying, downloading or sharing. Copyright violations that occur on the University’s network may also create liability for the University.

Repeated copyright violations by any network user will result in permanent termination of network access. Such action on the part of the University is required by law.

Use of Services

  • The University provides an array of electronic resources and services for the primary pur­pose of supporting the business of the University and its missions of education, research, and service. In addition, our Internet con­nections are shared with the Health Sciences Campus and with New York Pres­byterian Hospital to support its mission of patient care. Uses that threaten any of these activities or threaten the integrity of the systems are prohibited.
  • The University recognizes the growing dependence of students on the services and resources the network delivers in support of education. As a student, you have a right to access and appropriately utilize the network in pursuit of your education. However, your personal use of the network for recreation is, at best, a privilege. When such use violates copyright law it is strictly prohibited by University policy as well as illegal under federal law. When such use impinges on the primary activities of the University, limits on use, even use that does not violate any laws, will be enforced.


  • The various technology offices on campus do not monitor the network for content, only for volume of use. However, third-party enforcement agencies acting on behalf of copy­right holders, such as MGM, Time-Warner, and the Recording Industry Association of America, do routinely survey networked computers looking for indi­viduals who, by providing video, music, or software files for download, are in violation of copyright laws. You may be in violation just by storing illegally obtained copies of such material. Even unintentional infringement violates the law.

Network Abuse 

  • Note that file-sharing programs typically consume large amounts of network bandwidth. The University will automatically limit Internet access for computers generating excessive network traffic. If such abuse threatens the missions and activities of the university, access to the network may be suspended. For the current limit, click here.

Policy on Plagiarism

At Columbia, we boast a culture of free thought and an open exchange of ideas. For this culture to thrive, it is crucial that we recognize when we have contributed new ideas and when we are relying on the ideas of those who came before us. Giving credit to those past ideas, thoughts, writings and expressions is not only honorable, but essential to academic scholarship. Our community’s mutual trust of its membership is sacred and given that, plagiarism is not tolerated in any capacity at Columbia.

Definition of Plagiarism

Derived from the Latin word plagiarius (“kidnapper”), plagiarism refers to a form of cheating that has been defined as “the false assumption of authorship: the wrongful act of taking the product of another person’s mind and presenting it as one’s own” (Alexander Lindey, Plagiarism and Originality [New York, Harper, 1952] 2). Plagiarism involves two kinds of wrongs. Using another person’s ideas, information, or expressions without acknowledging that person’s work constitutes intellectual theft. Passing off another person’s ideas, information, or expressions as your own to get a better grade or gain some other advantage constitutes fraud. Plagiarism is sometimes a moral and ethical offense rather than a legal one since some instances of plagiarism fall outside the scope of copyright infringement, a legal offense. (Gibaldi, Joseph. MLA Handbook. 6th ed. New York: Modern Language Association of America, 2003. 66.)

Types of Plagiarism


Use others’ intellectual work without quotation or reference to the source:

  • Type I: Direct Copy & Paste
  • Type II: Small Modification by Word Switch
  • Type III: Use Others’ Reasoning Style
  • Type IV: Use Others’ Metaphor
  • Type V: Use Others’ Idea

Barnbaum, C. “Plagiarism: A Student's Guide to Recognizing It and Avoiding It.” Valdosta State University.


Unintentional plagiarism is plagiarism that results from the disregard for proper scholarly procedures. Examples of Unintentional Plagiarism:

  • Failure to cite a source that is not common knowledge.
  • Failure to "quote" or block quote author's exact words, even if documented.
  • Failure to put a paraphrase in your own words, even if documented.
  • Failure to put a summary in your own words, even if documented.
  • Failure to be loyal to a source.

“Plagiarism Tutorial.” Duke University.

Common Knowledge and Facts

“Common knowledge” does not need to provide citation if:

  • An average educated person knows it;
  • It is easy to look up;
  • It can be found from multiple sources.

Example: HIV is the human immunodeficiency virus that causes AIDS.

“Facts” that do not open to contention do not need to provide citation.

Example: United States of America has 50 states and 1 district.

Note: “Common Knowledge” in one academic area might not be “common” for outsiders, so when you are not sure, cite to be safe or ask your professor for help.

According to The College of Dental Medicine Honor Code, a student alleged to have engaged in academic dishonesty will be subject to the Disciplinary Process set forth in our policy. If at the conclusion of that process the student is found responsible for the violation, possible outcomes include:

  • Warning
  • Conditional probation
  • Educational project
  • Probation
  • Suspension
  • Dismissal

Academic dishonesty may be intentional or unintentional and most commonly includes but is not limited to:

  • Plagiarism (copying word for word or paraphrasing without proper citation or acknowledgment from a written or electronic source)
  • Cheating on examinations
  • Unauthorized collaboration on an assignment
  • Receiving unauthorized assistance on an assignment
  • Copying computer programs
  • Forgery
  • Submitting work for one course that has already been used for another course
  • Unauthorized distribution of assignments and exams
  • Lying to an instructor or University officer
  • Obtaining advance knowledge of exams or other assignments without permission
  • Memorizing, photographing, or copying questions to produce replicas of evaluation instruments.
  • Post unreleased examinations or case studies on class web sites or convey them by any means to individuals who may take such examinations in the future.
  • Educational materials created by faculty of the College of Dental Medicine and of the College of Physicians and Surgeons, or used with appropriate permission by CDM or P&S, are copyrighted and may not be reproduced, transmitted, or provided to others.
  • All materials and recordings available in CourseWorks or other Columbia University teaching technologies can be used by students only for personal use and may not be transferred to other people or posted on web sites or similar technologies.

Original text can be found here.