who owns what?

When I think of copyright laws, I first think of my early experiences with Napster. The program became available and I thought it was the best thing in the world- spending long long hours downloading songs. I never even had a thought that it would be considered “stealing” from the artists. I downloaded singles, albums, but mostly a lot of unreleased, live and demo songs from my favorite artists. And now, looking back, I guess my “payment” for this music was the countless hours I spent in front of my computer working my download “queue” and networking with other sharers.

This was in high school, around 2000-1, and then more attention was paid to Napster, by Metallica and other artists who were upset that their songs leaked onto Napster before they were actually released. And then we started hearing all about copyright infringement and I learned it was no longer safe to use Napster. As I entered college, I became more fascinated with the laws and sided with the music artists and took a stand against illegal downloading of music. I even gave a persuasive speech in speech class about it. Since then, I do believe that I’ve file-shared a bit between family and friends, but I’ve also spent HUNDREDS to have my music legally available through iTunes.

But what does this mean for me in the classroom? And, since my experience was with music- how do I apply it to images? Have I ever considered image use in classes I’ve been in?

So of course, I wanted to start my thoughts on digital copyright laws with a clear definition:

Definition of Copyright:
“The legal right granted to an author, a composer, a playwright, a publisher, or a distributor to exclusive publication, production, sale, or distribution of a literary, musical, dramatic, or artistic work.” 

But I love this layman’s definition even better:

“This means that you can get in just as much trouble for stealing someone’s song as you can for stealing her purse.”

Now as a teacher-artist, I immediately think of Google Images and how often I run to that to pull images from. Do I have the right to even do that? Most of the time I’m not paying attention to WHERE the image is coming from or WHO, but I just need that image right then and there. I know that when I worked in newspaper advertising, we used a paid stock image service with thousands of photos and images that we could use in our ads or in illustrating stories. But outside of that, I pull images for art projects, presentations, even posters. And I might have used some of these pulled images in the classroom….uh oh.

Ok, so I found a great website that seems to put this all into plain english, PLUS it is geared towards educators! (yay!)

http://www.brighthub.com/education/k-12/articles/6623.aspx  (haha, i figured out how to make sure that opens for you in a new window!)

Reading up, I had no idea that ideas and creations were “automatically” copyrighted! Under our Constitution, any original, creative work is copyrighted. This site even says that since 1989, the copyright symbol and the phrase “all rights reserved” aren’t even necessary anymore! But, as teachers, we are mostly protected in presenting images/music/movies to our classrooms under the Fair Use rule.

After learning that most young people today are using YouTube over Google for basic search, I sought info on Fair Use/Copyright on YouTube. Most helpful, I found this vide0: http://youtu.be/Uiq42O6rhW4 The description of Fair Use is helpful, and the quick and dirty, helped to clarify the issue overall for me.

But more specifically, this video is a guy who is actually in a technology for education class (like us!) and is using some “high-tech” gimmicks in his presentation here. He recommends this website that even has an easy-to-use handout that teachers can print! http://www.techlearning.com/index. And then as I’m digging, I realize that this guy has his own blog! and BINGO! I’ve found some super relevant info on copyright and education!

But overall I have learned that as educators, we have some freedoms under the Fair Use rule. And here are the rules:

Fair Use and Teachers

Fair use explicitly allows use of copyrighted materials for educational purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Rather than listing exact limits of fair use, copyright law provides four standards for determination of the fair use exemption:

  1. Purpose of use: Copying and using selected parts of copyrighted works for specific educational purposes qualifies as fair use, especially if the copies are made spontaneously, are used temporarily, and are not part of an anthology.
  2. Nature of the work: For copying paragraphs from a copyrighted source, fair use easily applies. For copying a chapter, fair use may be questionable.
  3. Proportion/extent of the material used: Duplicating excerpts that are short in relation to the entire copyrighted work or segments that do not reflect the “essence” of the work is usually considered fair use.
  4. The effect on marketability: If there will be no reduction in sales because of copying or distribution, the fair use exemption is likely to apply. This is the most important of the four tests for fair use.
I think teachers mostly need to be careful about the worksheets they use. It’s got to be so easy to just make copies, pass them along and before you know it, you passing out most of the book for 6 years. In the past, when I have taught (guitar, piano) lessons, I have built my own worksheets. I usually do this so that they can be exactly what I need at the time. If I can keep this up, it will be an easy way to avoid the copyright problems with published workbooks. And I think that showing film might also be easily problematic for a teacher. Even though you may not be showing the movie to the entire school at one time, you may be showing class by class to the entire school, and that may be problematic with the law.
In the end, as teachers, we should be very aware of the materials they use in the classroom. And I think it is important to relate that to the students as well so that they can learn the copyright laws. So, maybe when you are passing out copied materials, remind the students of why you made this copy and how it is OK that you do so in this case. This will also help to keep you accountable as a teacher.



About Maybe It's Time

yogi-runner-artist-gardener who is a food-lover and cooking-enthusiast, while teaching art and being a parent of two pups, spending free time camping and studying urban homesteading.

2 responses to “who owns what?

  1. Casey

    I love that you are relating your personal experiences on file sharing and then reflecting on these while navigating a new stance on classroom use of copyrighted material. It is reflective consideration like this that will help all of us along the seemingly vague but risky act of using copyrighted material in classrooms. Reflexive consideration such as, “Have I done this? Do I feel right or wrong about it? How did it make others feel? What would I have done differently?” is a beginning point and then we take it further, as you did, by getting your hands dirty and digging into the nitty-gritty. I have read across the board (our class, meaning) that most of the terms, processes and contexts for the laws, statutes and precedents established for copyright material (digital or non-digital) is mostly gibberish to most of us. So, on that you are not alone.

    Now, I also did not know that ‘creative’ ideas and products were automatically copyrighted! This makes me curious and I wonder if it did for you too, how far do you think this legally can reach? Can an idea in one’s head that is never made public be protected? I find so interesting that perhaps the government can exclaim a creative’s mind to be entirely copyright protected! “I don’t know what you’re thinking inside that brain of yours, but it can’t be anyone else’s!”

    And that brings me to the next point inspired by your input-the idea of using google images. Who doesn’t pull images from Google for a project, presentation, etc. (And if someone doesn’t, I do not mean to offend…) Regardless, this has become part of our reflexive process of researching, I believe. And I will admit that I have made assumptions (you know what they say about assumptions…) that what is available through a google image search is fair game. By fair game, I mean personal use, non-distribution, informational within a larger presentation for a small group of peers, non-duplicated and by no means used commercially. I want to draw a portrait of a musician? Google image. I need an example of floor plans for an architecture project? Google image. I want a picture for my computer’s desktop of a sexy actor? Google Image. Need a portrait of Van Gogh to present unit on Post-Impressionism? Google Imag–………oh, wait…

    You’re right. Here is where it gets tricky.

    I do not have the right answers and I do not even assume that all teachers do. I truly enjoyed the video blog of a fellow ed tech student you shared. That was terrific! I shared a similar chart (http://home.earthlink.net/~cnew/research.htm#Fair%20Use%20Matrix%20for%20Teachers)

    You are very keen in observing that an instructor needs to be weary of worksheets or other data resources that could potentially be copyrighted. This could mean the ever-dreaded implication of extra work (zombie music in the background) for an educator. Should it be this way? It is obviously legally required that an educator, even under lieutenant protection such as creative commons and fair use, and all others abide to the correct practices. But how does this affect the educator and their practice? Could this, perhaps, affect the morale of a teaching community?

    Moreover, should this practice or considerations for practice carry over for the students as well? Do you think that students should know why or why not the teacher chooses what materials they do, where the materials are sourced from? Should teachers also be required to teach these practices to their students, even if the educator may still be learning themselves?

    My last point is to address the definition you shared with your post:

    “The legal right granted to an author, a composer, a playwright, a publisher, or a distributor to exclusive publication, production, sale, or distribution of a literary, musical, dramatic, or artistic work.

    Want to know what I noticed? ‘publication, production, sale or distribution’, but never once was the word ‘use’ mentioned. ‘ONE TIME USE’. Does a one time use violate copyrights? Just some food for thought..

    Enjoyed your post! Looking forward to more!

    • In response to your question, ”Should teachers also be required to teach these practices to their students, even if the educator may still be learning themselves? ”

      I believe that teachers should be required to teach the current trends and practices associated with copyright laws. We as teacher’s are constantly learning as well as students and we all can help each other prevent violations of copyright laws in the classroom.

      With this said, and a collaborative effort to understand the laws for educators using social media to teach may unite the students and the teachers. Coming from a unified front educators and look to their students and vice versa for information to get a better graps on the ever changing social world in which we live

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