GCSE Computer Science/Ethics

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Computer ethics concern things that we should or should not do in our dealings with computer systems.

Copyright and Plagiarism[edit]

Specification link

Show understanding of computer ethics, including copyright issues and plagiarism - 2016 CIE Syllabus p14

Copyright is something that is defined in international treaties and in various local laws around the world. It concerns the use of intellectual property.

Intellectual Property - Anything creative which someone made which can be read, watched or listened to. Includes movies, art work, photography and creative writing of all types


Copyright law recognises the fact that both the owner and the users of intellectual property have certain rights. The exact details vary slightly between countries but in general:

  • The creator of a piece of work has the right to be identified as the author.
  • You should not copy someone else's work without their permission or giving them credit.

Fair Use[edit]

There are however some exceptions, known as fair use which allow work to be copied with a few conditions. The rules vary between countries. In the UK you are allowed to copy work if it is for:

  • Critical review
  • News reporting of current events
  • For personal research & study

However you must ensure that:

  • You give credit to the author
  • You only use as much of the work as you have to
  • There is no free alternative available
  • Your use does not disrupt the owner's legitimate use of the work
Specification link

Distinguish between free software, freeware and shareware - 2016 CIE Syllabus p14

Specification link

Show understanding of the ethical issues raised by the spread of electronic communication and computer systems, including hacking, cracking and production of malware - 2016 CIE Syllabus p14