I think that the approach to plagiarism has to take on two forms. The first would be that it is ethically wrong to take credit for someone's work. While the easy access to information can be a problem in this field, it might also be a deterrent to falsely taking credit for work that is not authentic. A teacher or instructor can type in a line from any student work and investigate its presence online, allowing easy access to operate as a two way street. Students and employees have to be taught that while the internet can enable them to access information, it can also give access to anyone else on the same information. This is one realm that has to be addressed. The second area that has to be addressed on this is more on the student level. I think that teachers have to be more open with students on the composition and creation of work. If written work is viewed as simply product based without the element or understanding of the role of process, then it becomes that much easier to plagiarize work. Yet, if teachers/ instructors start working with students in the setup of checking the process of composition, then there is a better chance that there can be examination of the work produced that reflects the student's voice. Teachers can assess work in a process based manner, where they can monitor that authenticity is present. Technology can assist here, also. There are many websites that allow students to post what they have thus far in a work sample that can allow for feedback from teachers, colleagues, and the larger audience. This has a greater chance to ensure that the work produced is reflective of the student and displays once again how the easy access to information can be beneficial in this process.
Absolutely agreed with the above post. On another ethical level, the trend towards plagiarism, especially of essays and research work, has led to the appearance and spread of websites and individuals who sell pre-written essay work, and/or contract their services to write research papers for someone.
As far as simple copying and pasting goes, I am starting to see a classroom trend where there is no social stigma to plagiarism, and even some students who believe it is a sound academic practice, that they are entitled to copy other works. I see this when I grade them, and hand out F's for plagiarism, then hear endless protests - not of their innocence - but of how they do this all the time.
In the workplace, the ethical problems are even greater, as you are being hired and paid in a position to create and do your own work for a company, but are tempted to be paid for someone else's work instead. This can then run the company into copyright issues and intellectual property lawsuits.
The main ethical problem that comes with easy access to information is that there is a strong incentive to copy or plagiarize. Students, especially, have many easy ways to find information that they can cut and paste and use in work that they submit as their own. You can look at the two articles that I have linked to for more information.
The basic problem is that copying is much easier than it was back in the mid to late '80s when I was in high school and college. Nowadays, it is easy to go online and find information about almost any topic. Computer technology makes it very easy to simply cut and paste rather than reading the material, understanding it, and paraphrasing it. This, to me, is the main ethical problem.