Last week Ash asked how we cover copyright in the curriculum for a little side project he has brewing. I pointed him in the direction of the lesson plans and supporting resources with a little uncomfortable feeling… for some time I haven’t been happy about how we cover copyright and this innocent question nagged.

We cover what I guess you’d expect, and what the curricula require, but for a generation X working with Digital Natives it feels far, far, from adequate.

Today, TechDirt reported on how edublogs was taken off-line by a DCMA Notice (DCMA is essentially a copyright compliant in the USA):

Textbook publisher Pearson set off an unfortunate chain of events with a takedown notice issued aimed at a copy of Beck’s Hoplessness Scale posted by a teacher on one of Edublogs’ websites. The end result? Nearly 1.5 million teacher and student blogs taken offline by Edublogs’ host, ServerBeach.

What’s ironic is that edublogs appears to be quite savvy on the dangers on copyright infringement. Not only do they cover the subject in blog posts but they also provide information for teachers and students on sources of content that are licensed for use. For example:

  1. Compfight– great for fast searching.
  2. Flickr Blue Mountains
  3. Flickr Storm – ideal if you want to provide a selection of Flickr images on a specific topic for students to choose from.

Other sources of Creative Commons images include:

  1. Wikimedia Commons
  2. Search by Creative Commons

Check out Joyce Valenza’s comprehensive list of Copyright Friendly Images website list.

For the written word we are used to “quotation” and citation. But Digital Natives have grown up in a world where rich media – audio, images, video, graphics, animation – is the content they communicate with and consume. The digital equivalents for that content are unclear at best.

One solution is for everyone to read Lawrence Lessig’s Remix (or watch him on TED)…

But that argument, however compelling, is a legislative one and a long way from where we are today.  Somehow, we need a better way to prepare Digital Natives both for the reality of the current legal framework and for the murkiness that that framework creates in the practical digital world in which most of us now live.


Update 21 Oct 2012

Sue (I think from EduBlogs) commented on ‘fair use’. Here’s some relevant information on the current legislative situation for those in the United Kingdom.

Looking forward, a good source is the recent report Digital Opportunity – A review of intellectual property and growth. From the forward:

We have found that the UK’s intellectual property framework, especially with regard to copyright, is falling behind what is needed. Copyright, once the exclusive concern of authors and their publishers, is today preventing medical researchers studying data and text in pursuit of new treatments. Copying has become basic to numerous industrial processes, as well as to a burgeoning service economy based upon the internet. The UK cannot afford to let a legal framework designed around artists impede vigorous participation in these emerging business sectors.

3 thoughts on “Copyright

  1. We spend a lot of time educating our community on copyright and appropriate use of digital content because it is really important for them to understand. It’s as important for the educators as their students.

    Unfortunately too often educators think they are covered by Fair Use Laws because in schools they are allowed to use content if they follow Fair Use. Students are more likely to be caught out using copyrighted images whereas educators are more likely to upload PDFs or MS Word Docs of text books.

    • It’s really simple when it comes to Fair Use. Fair Use can’t be used and doesn’t apply to content being used online. Copyright and Creative Commons are what you need to address.

      If content is copyright you need to follow the copyright laws and have permission from the copyright owners. If content is licensed under Creative Commons than you need to use the content by following the Creative Commons license that is being used on the content and attribute the content in the manner specified by the license.

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