How do we teach copyright in countries where international copyright law is not often followed?

We are international citizens of the world and having had this experience we know that copyright can be very loosely interpreted from country to country.  There are knock-off CDs, DVDs, even names of restaurants and other businesses. When I lived in China I saw a restaurant named “Zizzler” which is an off shoot of the name “Sizzler” in America. Although we can claim they stole the name, or at least the idea of the name, is that really copyright? After all Zizzler is not actually Sizzler.

from Google images

International teachers often use knock-off DVDs for instructional purposes in the classroom and many I would guess say this to the kids and laugh about it. What harm is that? I mean the kids know exactly what the teacher is talking about and buy them for themselves as well and think nothing of it. Yet we tell the kids they cannot plagiarize and must give credit for the resources they use when writing a paper, creating a PPT, or video presentation. So how do we teach copyright in countries where international copyright law is not often followed? We teach what we know and if in doubt always give credit. I say this because, in our case, we work at an American school and therefore, I feel, are responsible for following and teaching American copyright laws and procedures in our educational setting.

Where creativity is concerned when we think of works of art be it visual or performing arts I believe we have the responsibility to teach the kids to mention where they got their inspiration if the piece is so close to the original. For example the piece of art the student did of Obama with Arabic writing that is hanging in the main office area. That student, in my opinion, should make of mention that he was inspired by the HOPE picture by Shepard Fairey. There is no way that the student had not previously see that piece of art.

In the case of Dorothy Lewis from the article “Something Borrowed” by Malcom Gladwell in which her character was portrayed, in the play “Frozen” in a way she was not comfortable with and so close to her own experiences as written in her book(s) and various articles she, in my opinion, has every right to sue. It is defamation of character. The author of the play, Bryony Lavery, that was produced, in this case, claimed she thought it was news but I find that a really, really lame excuse. The play write took liberties with Ms. Lewis’s professional and personal experiences which is NOT creative but defamatory.  If Bryony Lavery had given credit or asked permission, as she should have and did with Marian Parington. This story would make a good debate in a literature class even at the high school level.

This question has many layers and each layer has opinions. I have shared a few of mine.

2 thoughts on “How do we teach copyright in countries where international copyright law is not often followed?

  1. Interestingly the Fair Use Project set up by Stanford Law School uses the term “appropriation” in helping to define creativity. Images from the public domain which are then used to create a work that is new or significantly different from the original are free from copyright infringement but in the case of Jackie O’s photograph used by Andy Warhol this was an infringement since the photo was from a private collection.
    “Andy Warhol received legal complaints from photographers Charles Moore, Fred Ward, and Patricia Caulfield. Warhol used three of Charles Moore’s photographs of the Birmingham race riots in a 1964 painting called Race Riot. He also used a Life magazine cover photo of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, taken by Fred Ward after President Kennedy’s assassination, in several prints and paintings. Patricia Caulfield sued Warhol when she discovered that he had used one of her photographs in his1964 series of paintings and prints called Flowers. All of these cases were settled out of court. The photographers and their agents or attorneys received works of art from . . . Warhol . . . . Caulfield received a promise of royalties on future uses of her image by Warhol. Unfortunately, because these cases were settled out of court,no legal precedents were set concerning artistic appropriation of copyrighted.”(link to blogs.geniocity.com)
    And the Obama Hope poster which uses Warhol’s same pop art style? How does this fit the appropriation definition? Certainly the original photograph can be identified in the poster and was not part of the public domain. Should Fairey have asked permission to use the photo? Should he have cited the original at the bottom of the poster. Should he have approached AP and bought the copyright from them? It would probably have cost less than the out of court settlement that was made between AP and Fairey who in response to AP tried to sue them on the grounds of “Fair Use.” Perhaps Fairey could have done a Warhol and given him a work of art? Concerning creativity, appropriation and Fair Use the last word should be given to the photographer who said that he was” so proud of the photograph and that Fairey did what he did artistically with it.”(link to en.wikipedia.org)

  2. Good point >>
    “I say this because, in our case, we work at an American school and therefore, I feel, are responsible for following and teaching American copyright laws and procedures in our educational setting.”
    Since getting a new school director, our school is going through a serious housecleaning. To successfully teach, preach and model ethical behavior, it is essential to not show pirated movies in our classes or use copied books in classroom literature circles. As you mentioned, this is hard because boot-legged flicks and copying books is so affordable and easy to do. That is exactly WHY we should not use them. Recently, I have gutted all the copied novels I once used to use in my class. My book order will be much larger and more expensive this year, but well worth it. My wish is for my students to see the importance of these decisions and apply them in their own ways.

    When students use images on the classroom wiki (wordplayer.wikispaces.com) , I require them to use Creative Commons’ attributed photos, as well as give the photographer credit in the photo caption. I believe it’s a step in the right direction.

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