DISCUSS THIS: The Ethical Distribution of Forensics Materials

Posted on December 17, 2012 by Stephanie Alderdice

There's a scene in Jurassic Park when our group of unsuspecting protagonists discover that the theme park will be home to living, breathing, dinosaurs. Upon watching the cloned creatures hatch, Dr. Ian Malcom (played by actor Jeff Goldblum) confronts the wealthy park owner John Hammond about the implications of his creations. "Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether they could," he asserts, "that they didn't stop to think if they should." In the 20 years since Jurassic Park hit theaters, we haven't come much closer to walking alongside dinosaurs, but we continue to face the dilemma of technology outpacing ethics. 

Internet piracy has proven to be both a bane and a boon depending on what side of the issue you find yourself. When you're able to gain free access to paid content - be it for entertainment or educational purposes - you find yourself in possession of something you need or want without having to spend any money. On the other hand, when you've produced and made available content that others will find valuable, it is disheartening to be denied compensation for your efforts. 

Creating justifications is fairly easy. "It's not stealing, it's copying." "I'm just sharing it with a few friends." "They [the content creators] won't miss the money." "Money is tight and I really need this. I'll buy something from them in the future." Besides, you say, technology just makes it so easy, cheap, and fast to share these files.

Again, just because you can doesn't mean you should.

So when speculations begin to rise about a large group of team copying and distributing a small handful of paid debate briefs amongst themselves, we find it necessary to address the issue. Regardless of the ease, efficiency, or competitive advantage that widespread inter-team distribution of paid debate briefs may afford individuals, it is considered piracy and it is unethical. Period. We are referring not only to debate briefs but any paid forensics materials. This includes uploading debate briefs, textbooks, extemp analysis, or interp scripts on public servers so that a simple internet search allows individuals to access and download the full text materials. When an item is purchased from our store, it is for the exclusive use of the team making the purchase

The individuals who publish these materials are not anonymous or wealthy. They graduated from your high schools. They are alumni who come back to help teams. They are continuing their education or working other full time job(s). They are raising families. This isn't a get-rich-quick scheme of people thinking that debate briefs, current event analysis, or interp scripts will earn them a fast fortune. The time, effort, and dedication it takes to research, write, and publish materials for forensics is dizzying. It is time that is spent in lieu of having fun or being with friends or family members. This is not a hobby - it is work. It is work that is done to benefit an activity that enriched their educational experience. Their work reduces the time teams spend looking for materials and affords coaches and competitors more daylight hours to spend strengthening skills.

This isn't about forensics companies being greedy. It's about acknowledging that the content has value and its creators are due compensation. When publishers' works are freely distributed, when the compensation doesn't justify the time and effort that goes into creation, people will stop producing the materials. We know money is tight for a lot of people right now. Forensics companies price their products to be reasonably affordable to customers while justifying the effort that goes in to creating these materials.

We are here to serve the forensics community. This activity has immeasurable value for students, coaches, teachers, parents, alumni, and administrators. Forensics has helped many to not only hone their public speaking skills, but their desire to express their creativity through writing interp scripts, their interest in analyzing current events for extempers, or their ability to uncover and organize data and research for debate briefs. 

We aren't random outsiders looking to profit from schools or students. We are alumni. We are volunteers. We are advocates. We are part of this community. And we are proud of it.

If you have any questions about materials available in the SpeechGeek Market and what consitutes authorized distribution of your purchase, please e-mail us at thegeek@speechgeek.com. We are happy to offer any clarification and be of assistance in any way possible.


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High School Forensic Students to Participate in Florida Senatorial Debate

Posted on October 17, 2012 by Corey Alderdice
Immediately following the October 17th U.S. Senate debate, in which incumbent Florida Sen. Bill Nelson (D) faces Rep. Connie Mack (R), Nova Southeastern University will be hosting a statewide live webcast show featuring instant analysis and perspective about everything from “who won?” to how the debate may affect voters’ decisions. Sponsored by NSU and Florida Blue, the webcast show will be moderated by Kevin Corke, former White House correspondent for NBC News, and will include interviews with prominent political leaders, journalists, NSU President George Hanbury, representatives from both candidates’ campaigns, and star high school debaters.

It is vital that we promote a healthy dialogue about how to best build a better future for our state and country. As such, we’re looking to high school forensic students to join us online for the live webcast show. By participating through the online portal, high school students will learn about the political process – helping to form the next generation of Florida’s top minds. Top questions and comments from the high school online portal will be presented live on the air and many students will receive prizes for top participation. Also, the online portal presents a great way for Florida speech and debate teachers to provide additional class credit to contributing students.

In an additional effort to interject high school students into the process, the final segment of the post-debate webcast show will feature the analysis of two prominent high school extemporaneous speaking students, Cypress Bay High School’s Isabella Paretti and University School’s Daniel Greene, an addition to an audience filled with 60 local forensic students. The post-debate special webcast will be streamed LIVE for high school students at http://4n6.mobi/TuK2ax and for the general public on most Florida newspaper websites.

For information on the U.S. Senate debate, and where your students can watch it, please visit: http://4n6.mobi/U3PBCd

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TRY THIS: Put an End to "Forensic-Hating"

Posted on October 10, 2012 by Stephanie Alderdice


If you weren't aware, October is National Anti-Bullying Awareness month. From Pacer's National Bullying Prevention Center to Do Something, organizations everywhere are casting a spotlight on this troublesome behavior. People are firing up their Mean Girls DVDs, opening their copies of Queen Bees and Wannabes, and coaches are reminiscing when Heathers was topical. Whether it's physical, verbal, emotional, or digital, harassing other individuals for any reason isn't cool. At all. Seriously. 

You would think that forensics, an activity that debates morality, discusses ethics, and examines the human condition would be immune to bullying and harassment. We are enlightened individuals! We research...FOR FUN. We play with our emotions...FOR TROPHIES. 

But sadly, even speech can be a pressure cooker of harassment. From internet jokes designed to degrade other competitors, online commentators engaging in snark fest of national final round performances, to countless conversations at tournaments about the things seen in and outside of rounds - we've witnessed how pointed people can be when it comes to the speech community. 

Maybe we're so used to being under the spotlight and being critiqued, we feel better about ourselves through judging others. Maybe nitpicking other people is a way to prove 'we know what we're doing.' Maybe it's just plain ole human nature.

This month, try to identify and correct "Forensic-hating." If you see someone trashing a competitor or teammate, take a stand. Even if people get defensive and insist you're making a big deal out of a joke, remind them that there's nothing funny about tearing someone down. If you, or someone you know, is getting harassed by people (through speech or not) tell an authority figure. If they don't do something, find someone who will. If you think you may be guilty of being overly critical, making jokes at someone's expense, or trashing another teammate's or competitor's performance, it is never too late to apologize and put a stop to it. There are too many tragic cases where harassment goes too far.

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WATCH THIS: Allstate Supports High School Debate

Posted on October 04, 2012 by Stephanie Alderdice

Folks have a variety of reasons for joining debate. Some like the competition, others enjoy the company. Perhaps there are a few who enjoy carrying tubs of evidence around on a Saturday. Who are we to judge? (Unless the ballot table calls our name, that is.) Allstate has posted a charming video celebrating the benefits of high school debate that continue after graduation. Check it out!

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WATCH THIS: Extreme Pen Spinning

Posted on September 19, 2012 by Stephanie Alderdice

 I always wondered how debaters (and deep-in-thought limited preppers) were able to spin their pens without sending them flying across the room. (Well, there were a *few* rogue writing instruments that would ricochet across rounds.) Now I'm starting to wonder if someone didn't travel across the world to study at the Thaispinner club and return to the forensics community to pass the skill along. 


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