I was visiting one of our elementary libraries last week where I saw a sketch of a mural that was to be painted on one of the walls this summer. The main character was Mouse from Numeroff's If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, illustrated by Felicia Bond. I asked the librarian if she had permission to use this character in the mural. She didn't know. I advised her to check.
Common characters from children's books are not uncommon to find painted on library and school walls. Do a GoogleImage search on "library murals" and you will find:
So what's the big deal? I just wonder how many of these schools and libraries got permission to use these copyrighted images? My guess is few or none.
Do we really need to worry that Theodore Geisel's heirs will starve since the estate won't be collecting royalties? Could this use of images be covered by "fair use" provisions? Does the larger goal of getting kids to read supersede intellectual property law?
All debatable, I suppose.
But such use bothers me for more pragmatic reasons...
- What is the message about intellectual property use we are sending to students? It's OK to be a scofflaw?
- What is the message we are sending to parents about how our schools respect copyright law? Do you have parents in your district who make their living from their creative work?
- Are we showing disrespect for our local talent in not using local artists to display their imaginative work? Could personal visual imagining of Harry Potter or Paul Bunyan or Jo March be as good an inducement for reading as Charlie Brown or Super Diaper Baby? Should be honor our local authors, artists, stories and legends?
I love going to my schools where local artists have created some truly wonderful art for decorating the walls and hallways.
I'd bet dollars to doughnuts that you have local talent that would put original, interesting, local images on your walls that would get kids excited about reading and respect copyright laws.
Thanks for letting me get that off my chest.