Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Week 1 Blog 1 Copyright Readings

Blog 1 copyright readings

I teach a three-class mini unit on copyright, censorship, and the law. I am also, or I was a professional photographer. I can approach copyright from both sides. On the one side, I want to protect my investment. If I spend thousands of dollars to take a series of pictures, I certainly don’t want to give them away and I certainly don’t want someone else taking credit for their creation. If I write and produce music, then I want to gain fame or wealth for their creation. But as an educator, the value of using or showing copyrighted material in the classroom can be a vital addition to my teaching. But budgets being what they are, I cannot pay to use many of these materials. So I break the very laws I teach in order to give my students a more meaningful education. The fair use clause is one of the gray areas of the copyright act. I find myself bending the law to fit my own uses. But I guess I’m not the only one that does this. In the ars technica article, it seems that industry data on financial losses due to copyright infringement could itself be copyrighted under creative fiction. Copyright laws are necessary. They are difficult to enforce. They can also serve as a deterrent in the creation of derivative pieces. It is important for my students to know and understand the law. After that, they must decide what they will do.

We must be thankful for the concept of Fair Use. Without it, we could not use anything that is copyrighted. It is one thing to make money on someone else’s idea, but we should be allowed to share their ideas. The law also kept it a little ambiguous so that each case can be decided on its own merits. I think this keeps copyright holders from suing every time a portion of their material is used. I agree that Fair use has helped prevent private censorship from interfering with freedom of speech.

Another concept that my students can use is creative commons. I think this has become necessary because of the change in the way we use the Internet. People want to share the things they create. They use Face Book, You Tube, and blogs to distribute what they make. Sometimes we use items that are copy righted in these creations. Creative commons allows us to use certain works under specific circumstances that “bends” the copyright laws.

1 comment:

  1. You present some very difficult choices. First off, CK, I think you are correct that the ambiguity of Fair Use does prevent the interference of our First Ammendment right to free speech. But, I think this same ambiguity gives us a false sense of safety when we want to bend these copyright laws in our favor.

    In our head, we want to do what we want to do and we often justify it by claiming everything "should" fit under Fair Use because we intend to use it in education. While we may not have any intention of making a living from the product or even claiming that it is our own, it comes down to simple permission.

    Personally, if I post something on the internet and someone contacts me for permission to reprint or use, I would feel honored or privileged if done in a tasteful manner. I would not feel so enamored if I were to run across an article that had looked very much like my own but was credited by a teacher who simply used my research and discoveries to formulate their own paper.

    While Fair Use is a great concept, it is not perfect and is not always used fairly.