Updating the Copyright Puzzle
In some ways, copyright is a very static thing. Once you set your words down, you own them for decades. When it comes to how teachers apply and teach copyright however, there are always new resources and new guidelines to take into consideration.
This entry was originally published on the NCTE Inbox blog on June 15, 2010. This revised version includes some additional resources and is updated to reflect the Library of Congress ruling on DVD remixing from July of this year. Resources are included for all grade levels (kindergarten to college).
Figuring out copyright can be like piecing together a puzzle. You have a good idea how its supposed to work in the end, but all the little pieces can be confusing to piece together.
These links can help you learn more about copyright yourself and teach students about fair use and copyright. In no time, youll move from scattered pieces to a full picture of copyright and fair use.
Check out the Media Education Lab website for key resources and curriculum materials. The site includes links to My Pop Studio, which focuses on media literacy for girls 9–14, and Assignment Media Literacy resources for K12 students. You’ll find songs and video clips that you can use with students or in your professional development workshops.
Copyright on the Web, from CyberBee, is a simple FAQ interactive that younger students can explore to learn more about copyright.
Older students can use the Digital Slider from the Copyright Advisory Network to test whether the works they want to use are covered by copyright. The Fair Use Evaluator, also from the Copyright Advisory Network, steps content creators through the process of creating a fair use defense.
Teaching Copyright, from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), is a collection of five lesson plans on copyright, fair use, file sharing, and remixing.
Movie Clips and Copyright from Inside Higher Ed explains the Library of Congress ruling on DVD remixing and fair use, which allow wider use of samples from DVDs for classroom use and student projects.
The Campus Guide to Copyright Compliance from the Copyright Clearance Center provides a thorough overview of copyright, fair use, and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).
Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Scholarly Research in Communication, from the Center for Social Media, “identifies four situations that represent the current consensus within the community of communication scholars about acceptable practices for the fair use of copyrighted materials.”
Copyright, from University Publishing of Washington State University, recommended by NCTE & CCCC member William Condon, includes information on everything about copyright from music to the Internet. The Public Domain Chart and Fair Use section are great classroom resources.
Profhackers Solutions for Dealing with Copyrighted Materials in an Open Access Course offers strategies for creating open classes that provide the necessary audio, video, and print documents while still respecting the intellectual property rights of those who created the texts.
The article “Copying Right and Copying Wrong with Web 2.0 Tools in the Teacher Education and Communications Classrooms” from CITE Journal outlines guidelines for determining the fair use of various Internet resources by teachers and students. The article was reviewed by The Chronicle of Higher Education.
In addition to resources on copyright, you may want to know something about Creative Commons. For a great overview, check out “The Beauty of ‘Some Rights Reserved’: Introducing Creative Commons to Librarians, Faculty, and Students” from the November issue of the Association of College and Research Libraries publication C&RL News. The About section of the Creative Commons website offers movies, comics, and FAQs.
Issues for Discussion
If youre ready to ask students to think critically about the complex issues that copyright law raises, youll find ideas on these sites. Some are meant to provide background for you, the teacher, while others are appropriate for sharing in the classroom.
Academic Institutions Face "Unfunded Mandate" To Enforce Copyright on Networks from Library Journal discusses regulations that require all schools that receive public funding to “combat the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material by users of an institution's network.” Is the legislation asking libraries to police areas outside their control (and what are the funding ramifications for those schools)?
The role of “fair use” in a time of CHANGE, a 2009 lecture by Lawrence Lessig, raises intriguing questions about the way copyright works for print-based texts versus video-based texts and introduces the idea of Creative Commons as an alternative. The video is 66 minutes long, so you may want to ask students to view it outside of class and save class time for discussion.
Copyright: The Elephant in the Middle of the Glee Club, from the blog Balkinization, points out the glaring problems with the instruction at William McKinley High School on the television show Glee. Theres lots of fun and songs, but also a lot of apparently teacher-sanctioned copyright violation. The article will lead to lively discussion among students who watch the Fox TV show.
The Inbox Blog post Mixing or Plagiarizing? raises questions about how print-based text was recently borrowed in a German novel that the author defends as a cultural remix. Students can read the related news articles and discuss whether the copying was fair use or a violation of the original writer's copyright.
The Intellectual Property Colloquium offers a recorded conversation among three scholars on Copyright Termination, the “unwaivable right to terminate certain contracts and licensing agreements.” Students can listen and then join the debate. Should someone be able to reverse a copyright agreement?
NPRs “Cooks Source, Copyright And Public Domain” and The Guardians Cooks Source: US copyright complaint sparks Twitter and Facebook storm describe the copyright scandal surrounding a stolen recipe for medieval apple tarts. Classroom ideas for discussion are included in my An Easy-as-Apple-Pie Plagiarism Lesson on the Bedford Bits blog (forthcoming 11-23-10).
Challenging a YouTube Video Take Down is a short, and likely memorable, introduction to the fair use in using video clips to create a new work. Classroom discussion might focus on how the principles of fair use apply in other contexts. Students might also search other sites to learn how to protest a take down on another website.
Can You Copyright Your Tweets? refutes the position that Twitter posts are too short to be protected by copyright. The post comes from the blog 95Years, recommended by @jensmyth. Check the blog for the latest controversies involving technology and social media. Because some information on the site is not appropriate for your typical classroom, the resource is best for teachers rather than students.
The xkcd comic “Steal This Comic” is a short, pointed discussion starter for the issues surrounding music copyright. Whether you agree with xkcds take on the issue or not, its an interesting way to introduce the topic.
Classroom Activities Using Twitter
What do you do with Twitter besides answer that demanding questions, “Whats happening?” There are actually dozens of ways to use Twitter to keep up with students, to support group work, and to engage students in authentic communication. Read the details on specific classroom activities using Twitter on my blog.