Exploring Faculty Knowledge and Perceptions of Copyright at U.S. Dental Schools: A Pilot Study
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The aims of this pilot study were to investigate current copyright training and support provided to faculty at North American dental schools and to examine faculty members’ knowledge and attitudes related to specific copyright issues. In 2015, a survey with questions about faculty members’ comfort about their own and their colleagues’ knowledge and application of various copyright issues was designed and distributed. True/false questions were asked to determine the extent of knowledge about copyright. Participants were given eight scenarios depicting examples of behavior related to copyright issues and asked to indicate whether the behavior in the scenario was ethical or unethical and compliant with or infringing upon copyright. A total of 104 participants completed the survey, all at U.S. dental schools; the numbers in the non-faculty groups were small, so the analysis was limited to the 61 faculty respondents (approximately 0.5% of U.S. dental faculty members in 2015). The results showed that these dental faculty members were less confident in their colleagues’ knowledge and application of copyright and fair use than they were in their own knowledge and application. Both knowledge and attitude were found to be important factors in the respondents’ decision making related to copyright and fair use, although it appeared that in some contexts faculty members relied on either knowledge or attitude more strongly than the other. A large percentage (88%, n=53) said they would be open to receiving additional training in copyright from their institution. Faculty development on this topic should address attitudes about the ethics regarding application of copyright law in addition to providing factual information and should emphasize what is permissible under current copyright law rather than simply discussing actions that constitute violations.