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As new technologies appear, our legal system evolves to deal with them. To be a responsible computer
is a legal
Understand the concept of copyright when applied to software, and also to files such as: graphics, text, audio, video. Understand copyright issues involved in downloading information from the Internet.
Article I of the U.S. Constitution gives the Congress the power "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries." This is the basis of copyright law in the United States, and it includes the justification for copyrights. The basic idea is that by securing an author's right to profit from their work, we can
Copyright applies not just to books, but also to all manner of creative works: drawings, pictures, photographs, audio recordings, video recordings, and even computer software. The original creator of these works has the right to
When you are downloading material from the Internet, you need to be aware of any copyright restrictions that might apply to the material. For example, there are many entire books available on the Internet. Some, such as those supplied by Project Gutenberg (http://promo.net/pg/) are explicitly free from copyright restrictions. But some people are not so law-
Understand copyright issues associated with using and distributing materials stored on removable media such as CDs, Zip disks, diskettes.
Computers have made it phenomenally easy to make copies of things. Once a book or magazine article is scanned or typed into a computer, you can make hundreds of copies to CD-ROM, Zip disk, or diskette with little effort. The rise of peer-to-peer
However, just because it's possible doesn't mean that it's legal. Sharing a copyrighted work with your
Know how to check the product ID number for a software product. Understand the terms shareware, freeware, end-user license agreement.
Copyright applies to software as well as to books, movies, and music. The creator of a piece of software has the right to determine how (or whether) that software can be shared. The standard practice in the software industry is to license a piece of software to the user under specific circumstances. For example, the user might be permitted to install the software on two computers but no more.
Many software programs assign a unique product ID or license number to
Not every application is subject to
The use of most programs is governed by an
end-user license agreement
, or EULA. It is a legal contract that typically appears when you are installing the software. Normally you are required to click a button to
Know about data protection legislation or conventions in your country. Understand the implications of data protection legislation for data subjects and data holders. Describe some of the uses of personal data.
Some countries have passed laws that specify how personal data can be used. In the United Kingdom, for example, the Data Protection Act of 1988 lays out a series of rules for personal data, including that such data must be accurate and must not be kept longer than necessary.
The United States lacks a comprehensive data protection act, but it does have some laws that help protect personal information. These include the following:
The Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) requires Web sites aimed at children 12 and under to provide parents with notice of their information practices and to obtain
The Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999 sets the conditions under which financial institutions may share consumer data with one another.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) led to federal rules governing the privacy of medical data. These rules require access to patient records to be limited to those who need them and notifications to
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) protects the privacy of student records. Parents and students have the right to review and, if necessary, correct school records. Generally, consent must be obtained to share information from school records, except in certain limited situations (for example, if the student is transferring to another school).
The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) allows
In addition to these and other federal laws, state and local laws might provide additional
Even though personal data is legally protected in many situations, sometimes it still makes sense to share your personal data. For example, when you're ordering a product over the Internet, filling out medical forms, applying for college admission, or registering to vote, you are supplying personal information that will likely be stored in a computer. The goal of data protection laws is not to keep your personal information away from computers, but to make sure that it is only used in a responsible fashion.
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