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Ethical Guidelines for IPFW Information Technology Users

Reprinted from IPFW Faculty Senate Document SD91-5, as amended 12/13/2010.

Ethical Guidelines for IPFW Information Technology (IT) Users

The IPFW Code of Student Rights, Responsibilities, and Conduct (hereafter, the Code) sets forth general policies and procedures governing the use of university facilities by students. Various university policies establish similar requirements for faculty and staff. The purpose of these guidelines is to interpret these policies and procedures for students, faculty, and staff using the university's IT facilities.

University IT resources are designed to be used in connection with legitimate, university-related purposes. The use of university IT resources to disseminate obscene, pornographic, or libelous materials, to threaten or harass others, or otherwise to engage in activities forbidden by the Code or university policy is subject to disciplinary action.

Intellectual Property Rights and Responsibilities

Central to an understanding of the rights and responsibilities of IT users is the notion of intellectual property. In brief, this concept holds that materials stored in electronic form are the property of one or more rightful owners. Like any other property, electronically stored information, whether data or programs, can be stolen, altered or destroyed, misappropriated, or plagiarized. Such inappropriate activities violate the Code and university policy and are subject to disciplinary action.

Access Rights and Responsibilities

The use of lab, office, e-mail, web and other IT resources, including wired and wireless networks, should be focused on facilitating university-related purposes; other uses—for example, using IT resources to conduct a commercial enterprise or private business—constitute theft from the university subject to disciplinary action. Similarly, the introduction of information which interferes with the access or information of others—for example, the introduction of programs of a type commonly called "viruses" or of nonacademic, network-game simulations—is subject to disciplinary action. E-mail should not be used for junk mailings.

Certain university-controlled IT resources are openly available to all students on a first-come, first-served basis; access to other resources is limited—often only by means of posted notices—to those in certain disciplines or specified courses; access to still other resources is carefully controlled by such means as user IDs and passwords. Students, faculty, and staff are responsible for adhering to the spirit and the letter of these access controls. Violations of access rights can be interpreted under the Code and university policies as theft of university services whether or not those services have been separately billed.

Students, faculty, and staff are also responsible for ensuring the confidentiality of access rights under their control. For example, release of a password, whether intentional or inadvertent, invites misuse by others and may be subject to disciplinary action.

General Rights and Responsibilities

Despite access controls imposed, system failures may occasionally make it possible for system users inappropriately to read, use copy, alter, or delete information stored electronically on a university computer system. System users are responsible for not exploiting such system failures and for reporting them to proper university personnel so that corrective steps can be taken.
The University strives to maintain a quiet environment in its computer labs in order that lab users can use their time productively and with minimal distractions. Proper use of computer resources follows the same standards of common sense and courtesy that govern the use of other public facilities. Improper use violates those standards by infringing upon others' ability to fulfill their responsibilities.

All inappropriate uses of IT resources should be reported to proper authorities for possible disciplinary action.

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