There Be No Dragons!

22 09 2012

Cartographers once embellished their maps with dragons and sea serpents to scare away would-be explorers.

Antique map with dragons

Sometimes the fear factor is also exploited when it comes to copyright and the repurposing of intellectual property.

Copyright is a positive, helpful concept created by our forefathers so that, in Jefferson’s words, “we can stand on the shoulders of others.”

Understanding copyright and fair use so that we can make our stand wisely and empower ourselves and our students is a matter of taking personal responsibility and critical reflecting to understand the perspectives of others that our actions may impact.

Here is the dialogue taken from the transcript (see complete transcript and video archive) that reflects some confusion:

[17:18] VonnKurtis: In Dr. Young’s class, we were told very different copyright guidelines…
[17:18] NotCaroline: yes
[17:18] VonnKurtis: Yep
[17:18] cmtruesd: as long as we’re creating something new with it
[17:18] NotCaroline: in an educational context
[17:18] abbey1013: yes
[17:18] kmw1020: I think you can use song up to 30 seconds under fair use
[17:18] KingHarris1: i was told the same thing. free usage or something
[Cris talking with Jamie about use of copyrighted music and need to model good practice on YouTube.]
[17:18] VonnKurtis: Ummm… Dr. Young would disagree.
[17:19] jilltbone: what about when pictures are just chosen randomly from search engine?
[17:19] NotCaroline: and our guest speaker, what was her name?
[17:19] VonnKurtis: Maybe Dr. Young needs to visit bookhenge!!
[17:19] VonnKurtis: someone go back and look at the moodle… she wrote a book. [Note that link to Renee Hobbs’s Skype session with ECI 520, Spring 2012 was provided later in chat —
[17:19] 2B Writer: Will Cross is the copyright lawyer at NC State. He could come
[17:19] crazymom03: Pictures need to come from the fair use areas of photos too not just taken from anywhere.

The discussion that Jamie and I were having and that prompted the backchannel comments was about the appropriateness of using a song by Fleet Foxes as the soundtrack for a bookcast.  My interpretation is what I had blogged to scaffold bookcasting:

Intellectual Property Is to Be Respected

Do be forewarned that it is not okay to google and “borrow” an image or music that is not licensed under Creative Commons for repurposing or the author has clearly given her blessing for its use.  A common error is to believe that your video transforms a piece of music and adds value for the public good.  That would, honestly, be rare.  Most likely, your video uses the music to create a mood or tone, and that does not transform the music but merely takes advantage of the composer’s work.  See The Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literacy Education, Principle 4, Student Use of Copyrighted Materials in Their Own Academic and Creative Work.  You could easily create that same mood or tone with a royalty free selection.  There are several sites for royalty-free music and images on the Bookcasting page.

Reviewing the notes from Renee Hobb’s Skype session with ECI 520, Spring 2012, indicates that there is no disagreement.  Our bookcasts are not published in an educational context but open on the Web for the world.  That’s what makes the difference in being able to use copyrighted materials with complete choice for appropriation, sampling, remix, whatever versus needing to understand the principle of transformativeness that determines if you and your students are truly repurposing copyright materials or, in fact, infringing on the creator’s rights.  This is the relevant information from the notes:

Copyright Law also guarantees Protection for the User of Copyrighted Material – Important for Teachers! Why are teachers granted so much protection with regard to copyright and fair use? Because we spread knowledge! ☺ • Special Part of the Law – Section 110 – Face to Face teaching part of the law – You the teacher can use any copyrighted material (legally acquired) in a face-to-face setting for teaching and learning; also extends to digital online settings when the venue is closed to your educational setting (e.g., school, school system, class, university, etc.; tools that might support this closed network might include Moodle, Blackboard, etc.). • User Rights, Section 107 – Doctrine of Fair Use Act – users do not have to pay for or ask for permission if in weighing the balance between benefit and harm, the use is deemed to be socially beneficial enough to outweigh the potential harm. This is also where the law gives us the right as teachers and scholars to use bits and pieces of others’ work to create new knowledge (e.g., direct quotation, paraphrasing, summarizing, etc.). o See User Rights, Section 107 Music Video:

Anything you have heard that tries to quantify Fair Use is wrong (e.g., 10%, 30 seconds, etc.); this was a guideline written in the 1970s when lawyers of media met with education groups – guidelines can never be used to support the law or enforcement of the law – they are not law! (Hobbs, 2012)

So consider the context in which your work and that of your students will be published — educational context that is closed or the wide open Web where we interact and impact the rights of others.

Still worried about dragons?  Watch master teacher and copyright navigator Bill Ferriter as he makes the most of a teachable moment to share what he has learned about standing on the shoulders of others.  And go forth confidently — but wisely and respectfully.

[ width=”550″ height=”443″]

For more on copyright and fair use, check out the collection of resources that I’m curating, Copyright Remix.  Please note that I produced the Ferriter video and it is used with USDLC’s permission.

As always, comments and questions appreciated.  Let the conversation continue . . .




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