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« Changing how we teach copyright Pt 2 | Main | Have you voted for Gordon yet? »

Changing how we teach copyright Pt 1

Last Saturday I started writing a "a rational, ethical and legally-defensible way" of how educators should change their approach to both using and teaching about intellectual property, especially copyrighted work. I got side-tracked with some paradoxes. I continue today with the first of 3 or 4 ideas about how we might go about doing this...

copyright.gif1. Change the focus of copyright instruction from what is forbidden to what is permitted.

The 2007 document “The Cost of Copyright Confusion for Media Literacy” published by American University’s Center for Social Media coins a new term: Hyper-comply. It means that some educators “over-comply with copyright law, and even forego using legitimate teaching tools and techniques for fear of violating copyright."

As information professionals, we have as great an obligation to see that staff and students get as complete access and use from copyrighted materials as possible, as we do in helping make sure they respect copyright laws.  Period.

Our instructional efforts need to include:

  • Teaching users that the use of copyrighted material in research and projects, if properly cited and if it supplements, rather than supplants the researcher’s product, is perfectly legal.  Our district’s Guide to Cheating and Plagiarism clearly describes when information needs to be cited and when it does not, how to cite a source and how to avoid inadvertent plagiarism.
  • Teaching the concepts and tests of Fair Use.  Both staff and students should be able to name and explain the factors surrounding fair use.
…the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include:
      • the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
      • the nature of the copyrighted work;
      • the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
      • the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work. (the Copyright Act of 1976, 17 U.S.C. § 107)
  • Teach that a copyrighted work’s use is considered Fair Use if it is of a “transformative” nature.  In “Recut, Reframe, Recycle,” the authors define these uses of copyrighted works in online videos as “transformative” and meeting Fair Use Guideline:
    • Parody and satire
    • Negative or critical commentary
    • Positive commentary
    • Quoting to trigger discussion
    • Illustration or example
    • Incidental use
    • Personal reportage or diaries
    • Archiving of vulnerable or revealing materials
    • Pastiche or collage

    Other media besides video can be "transformative" as well.

  • Inform teachers of all special rights given to them as educators. Teachers can show personal copies of copyrighted videos in class; off-air broadcasts can be re-shown to classes; school software loaded on home computers, and photocopies of copyrighted news and magazine article can be given to students. (Some restrictions apply, but these are conditionally legal.)
  • Teach the Consortium of College and University Media Centers's Fair Use Guidelines For Educational Multimedia. These guidelines (as described by Linda Star on Education World) state that educators who create educational multimedia projects containing original and copyrighted materials may use those projects for
    • face-to-face student instruction.
    • directed student self-study.
    • real-time remote instruction, review, or directed self-study for students enrolled in curriculum-based courses, provided there are no technological limitations on access to the multimedia project and that the technology prevents copying of the copyrighted material.
    • teaching courses for a period of up to two years after the first instructional use. After two years, educators must obtain permission for each copyrighted portion in the project.
    • presentation at peer workshops and conferences.
    • such personal uses as tenure review or job interviews.
        The guidelines also allow students who create educational multimedia projects containing copyrighted materials to use their projects for
      • educational uses in the course for which they were created.
      • portfolios as examples of their academic work.
      • such personal uses as job and graduate school interviews.

Educators need to know the “outer limits,” not just the “safe harbors” of the use of copyrighted materials – and allow their students to explore those outer limits as well.

Help me build a repository of "permitted uses"of copyright material in your comments. I am sure I have overlooked some guidelines that help, rather than hinder, educators and students.

Let's see that teachers and students are as aware of their legal rights as they are of their limits. 

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Reader Comments (1)

There is an excellent TED Talk - I think the speaker is Lessig - on the subject of how modern youth is being made to feel criminal.

This is the TED Talk I mentioned. The speaker is Larry Lessig and the talk is titled: How creativity is being strangled by the law.

I'd recommend watching this (if you haven't already). Thought provoking.

April 22, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterBrian Smith

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