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:
- 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.
- Nature of the work: For copying paragraphs from a copyrighted source, fair use easily applies. For copying a chapter, fair use may be questionable.
- 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.
- 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.