The introduction my friend and colleage Gail Dickinson once gave me remains the one of which I am most proud:
Doug not only pokes holes in sacred cows but drags them into public places and commits indecent acts with them.
Uh, the library media specialist's role in copyright teaching and enforcements seems to be one of those cows, as the reaction to last Tuesday's little rant shows. A couple very well written and thoughtful e-mails:
I think that much of what you have said and posted makes sense from a teaching perspective, particularly when it applies to videos made by amateurs and posted to the World Wide Web for all to see for free anyway.
But if we are to teach the teachers and students about the ethical use of other's stuff, regardless of its format, are we in a position to pick and choose when we will be ethical or not? Is that not a little like saying stealing from a large chain store is okay because they have heaps of $$$ and the price of theft is built into the price of the goods, but don't do it from your local corner store? Is it okay to show a movie because Warner Bros or Fox are multi-billion companies but don't photocopy a book I've written because I am such small fry?
Even if we are not the copyright police, do we not have a responsibility to be a role model? Under copyright law in Australia, if I direct or knowingly allow another person (student or teacher) to breach copyright I can be prosecuted as well as that person. If a supervisor directs me to breach copyright then I need to keep a written diary to show that I was directed to do so. (Whether any prosecutions have taken place is another issue, but certainly we are told that the buck stops with the individual not our education authority if we are taken to court.)
Don't know where Jamie would stand if he knowingly directed people to breach copyright - how rigorously do copyright owners pursue breaches in the US? I know some of the multi-nationals are really on to it because there are often cases on the news here where they have tried to close down small businesses because they have used "copyrighted" names. Two cases - the first were two ladies actually called Thelma and Louise who tried to open a coffee shop called "Thelma and Louise", and another company who thought they owned the rights to the name ugg boots but found out that that is a
generic name that has been used throughout Australian and New Zealand for ever for a style of footwear. It costs 000s to fight these companies in court but the multi-nationals take it to the end. Even if they lose, they've put the little ones out of business because of the legal fees.
I don't know what the US arrangements are, but here our education authorities (in most cases state education departments) pay a per student copyright fee that allows Australian teachers quite a lot of freedom in what we can use and how, and we are expected to work within these boundaries.
So, even if the rules/laws don't make sense, or we don't agree with them, does that mean we still have the right to break them when it suits us? Are we sending the right message to the kids?
Love a good debate ...
COOMA NSW 2630
and Steve Dembo left this comment:
I speed at times, I've downloaded songs (and other things), and I've downloaded YouTube videos. While I do agree with you for the most part, the trouble is that when we're in front of students, we're not just average people, we're role models.
Typically, role models are held to higher standards than the average person. And when a role model 'bends the law', those that look up to them aren't going to know where to draw the line.
What do you do when a student is caught downloading "Horton Hears a Who" from Bit Torrent? And what do you do when that same student says, "But Mr. Johnson said it was ok to download videos. He did it on YouTube."
It's a pretty fine line. What we do in a personal life is one thing, but as educators I think we need to be pretty careful of which side we walk on.
and a stern emoticon from Barbara Coomes, professor in Perth, Australia...
Not good role modelling, Doug! Copyright is a major responsibility of the TL. :|
Strangely enough, "attaboys" from Tom Hoffman and Stephen Downes probably gave me more concern than any vocalized disagreement.
While rants tend to be more emotive and less rational than are indicative of good thinking, most do contain an element of truth. I do firmly believe it is healthy to take a hard look at one's sacred cows now and again. Doing so either reinforces their goodness or changes them so they make sense again - either way a healthy proposition.
I'm still thinking on this one...
Thanks to ALL who responded.
Image source: www.homeeconomiser.com