Champing at the bits: Computers, copyright, and the composition classroom

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10 Scopus citations


Increasingly, students and instructors within composition classrooms are using electronic media for the circulation, appropriation, and alteration of texts and images. Because these practices could, in a worst-case scenario, lead to significant penalties under current copyright laws, this article provides an introduction to intellectual property law, focusing specifically on those elements of law most likely to impinge upon classroom practices. A brief history of United States intellectual property jurisprudence demonstrates that novel communicative technologies have repeatedly prompted calls for revision to copyright, and further, the term of copyright has steadily expanded in response to these technologies. A survey of current national and international developments in intellectual property policy suggests that additional extensions of copyright terms are likely unless consumers of intellectual property aggressively assert their rights to fair use and a robust public domain. The article concludes with a short list of World Wide Web-based resources for further study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)201-214
Number of pages14
JournalComputers and Composition
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1998


  • Appropriation
  • Composition
  • Computers
  • Copyright
  • Electronic media
  • Fair use
  • Intellectual property


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