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EdTech Update




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Fair use scenario - Mr. Jones and YouTube

In a continuing series of scenarios that explore educational fair use issues.

One of the topics that Mr. Jones explores in his Mass Media Communications class is how modern advertisers use classical propaganda techniques. YouTube is a rich source of current television advertisements, but unfortunately his district blocks access to that resource. Mr. Jones ignores YouTube's "Terms of Use" and uses a utility to download some video advertisements to his computer so he can show them to the class at a later time.

  1. What is the copyrighted material? Who owns it?
  2. Does the use of the work fall under fair use guidelines? Is the use transformational in nature? Can this be considered "educational" use?
  3. What is your level of comfort in helping create such a product? Are there any changes or limits you might like to see that would make you more comfortable with this project?

Your level of comfort with this use of copyrighted materials: High 5 4 3 2 1 Low

You comments are most welcome.

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Reader Comments (12)

You keep wandering off "fair use," Doug. I don't think this is a particularly difficult fair use question, but are terms of service for websites binding? Often not, but that's even more vague than the rest of this stuff.

November 20, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterTom Hoffman

Hi Tom,

On reflection, I should have been calling this series of scenarios “Ethical Use of Intellectual Property in Digital Formats.” Should I do more with these other than share them on the blog, I will probably rename.

As always, you make me reconsider my work and for that I am truly appreciative.


November 20, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDoug Johnson

The thing is, some of this stuff isn't really ethics. I don't even know what it is. How do you categorize whether or not you ought to honor arbitrary terms of service statements on websites. Or, looking at it another way, I can't imagine what the "ethical" argument for not allowing you to save a local copy of a video you're viewing in a flash player.

November 20, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterTom Hoffman

I would be okay with this. Something that would make me happier? Teacher overides of blocking software.

November 20, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJoan Tracy

Hi Doug,
Enjoying this series of posts. I have to agree with Larry Lessig, who was out here in Hong Kong last month, about how the copyright and Fair Use laws make "terrorists" out of well-intentioned people trying to do the right thing. There is so much about use of resources that makes little allowance for the special needs of groups of children needing access. I remember trying to get permission to show videos from the local store to kids on school camp in Australia and, in the end, resorting to "terrorist tactics" as it was just too hard to do the paperwork.
Even in schools in countries like Hong Kong and Singapore where bandwidth is not an issue, sites like You Tube can die when the class next door is using the laptop trolley and all are working on media rich applications. It is not about to change any time soon so we either find a way around, as Mr Jones does, or it's back to "look this way and takes these notes from the board students."
Onward and upward I say!

November 24, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterPaul McMahon

Thanks, Paul, for sharing this.

My sense is that there may well be a moral imperative in all this mess as well – abrogating some of an owners IP rights in order to educate children to a higher level. I always feel uncomfortable when suggesting breaking a law for a higher reason, but with others having done so, the world would be a far less fair place.

All the best,


November 25, 2008 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

Comfort level: 5. This is absolutely fair use. I don't think using it for teaching purposes needs to be transformational (unless analysis and critique is transformational), only re-mixing. Of course, since I do this all the time for my film studies class, I may be biased.

In any case, I seem to remember hearing a lawyer say somewhere that whatever YouTube puts on its site isn't actually binding or part of the law, anyway?

November 26, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJeri Hurd

We rated our comfort level as low with this use of media. Our comfort level would increase if the teacher would just record the material directly from free television. He also says he would put it away until he's ready...just keep in mind it should be used within 15 days/45 days.

January 5, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLMS group 3

We are uncomfortable with this use because we feel that You Tube's stated license supercedes the Fair Use concept.

January 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCRS Group

Comfort level for this would be a 5. We as a group believed that it was stirctly used for educational purposes. He is showing how we in the modern world still use the same techniques that people used years ago.

September 30, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCPSC 109 Class

Yo Tom,

This article is rather fascinating, I noticed that the copyrighted material would be the advertisements, and whoever owned these advertisements would be the ones to give the ok. On the other hand the teacher is solely using it for instructional purposes. In his attempts to go around the school's "rules", it was more unethical for him to download these outside the boundaries of the school. My comfort level for this material is about a 3.33, it has some debateable points, but otherwise seems alright.

Sincerely yours,

February 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRusty Bedsprings

Mr. Jones is in violation of the fair use guidelines, because he is not allowed to copy that video from because their school does not premit any of the students or teacher to access from their server. Mr. Jones is in violation because own the copyright to that video. It is educational, but since the school cannot access he is still in violation for copying that video. Our comfort level is a 1 because the school doesn't have the rights to, if at least teachers could access then Mr. Jones would be ok.

February 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterHolly and Becca

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