Internet citizenship

"I don't want to insist on it, Dave, but I am incapable of making an error."

There was no safe answer to that; Bowman gave up the argument.

"All right, Hal," he said, rather hastily. "I understand your point of view. We'll leave it at that."

Arthur C Clarke, 2001, a space odyssey

So, what can't I do?

All the laws that apply to you in everyday life apply on the Internet as well.

In particular, you can be sued for libel and slander in public discussion groups or on a Web page, just as you could if you published something slanderous in a newspaper.

Stealing stuff on the Internet is a crime, just like it is in real life. In particular, using images or sounds that you don't have any right to is illegal. I'll talk more about this under 'copyright'.

RMIT rules

These rules have been drawn up so that all users can have equal access to the resources provided by RMIT Information Technology Services (ITS), and services such as the Victorian Regional Network (VRN) and the worldwide Internet. The Rules apply to all campuses and sites of RMIT, with equipment under ITS management control. In addition, by implication these policies and rules apply to ALL RMIT Computer Systems and Departments, except by prior arrangement with ITS, or the department concerned.

RMIT Rules of Use

The RMIT policies regarding the Internet (and all RMIT computers) can be found at They cover such things as passwords, software, dialing in from home and electronic mail (which they call EMS).

The basic idea is that the Internet is a right, not a privilege. If you break the rules, you can lose your access. Keep in mind the following points:

If you think that you are doing the right thing, you probably are.


It is very easy to use other people's material once it is on the Net. That doesn't make it legal.

If you see a picture (or anything else) that you like, ask if you can use it. Lots of pages on the Web have an e-mail address at the bottom of the page. RMIT has developed some simple letters that you can quickly send, via e-mail. You might want to offer to give the person or organisation credit for the work, and link back to their site, so that they get some advertising for their trouble.

People often say 'yes', simply because RMIT is a university, and people think that education is a good thing. Quite often, you will get some questions or conditions. If they say 'no', or if they don't answer, you do not have permission, and you can't use that image.

Please note that there is no 'fair dealing' or 'educational use' for electronic items. Also, you cannot scan any part of someone else's work and use it. The copyright laws are being rewritten, and this may change. However, for the moment, if you don't have permission, don't use it.

Student copyright

Students at RMIT own their own work. You must ask permission to keep and/or use student work. This particularly applies to student project work. Here is an example of why students get upset:

If you want to use some student work on your Web site, ask the student at the time that they produce it.

Staff copyright

RMIT owns anything that you produce as part of your contract. I don't like the rule, but that is the rule.

Please note that if you are sessional, you are probably employed to teach, not to produce teaching materials. Therefore, you probably own your work. It depends on the terms of your contract or work plan.

If you are working on a particular project, or have a particular reason why RMIT should not own your work (eg, you are an artist), you should talk to your head of department and get a written exemption. Please note that the RMIT Legal Office will help to draw up these documents.