Drawing the Line

Thinking about copyright issues this week and where we need to draw the line in the sand, so to speak. After reading several articles, including several posts by Wesley Fryer, like his information about the use of iTunes in education and his Copyright 101 story, I still had several questions running through my mind. For one, why is an article from 2003 still at the forefront of articles on this topic? Are there better, more informative, and more current pieces of information out there? And, why are so many educators okay with ‘toeing’ the copyright line?

Some rights reserved by MGL

Fryer makes many good points in the article, including stipulating, “Not only do educators have a responsibility and legislative mandate to model ethical, legal, and appropriate respect for US copyright law in their own teaching, but they must also educate the next generation about the importance and requirements of intellectual property law.”

I think for many years teachers have always told their students about the hazards of copying written work from another source and passing it off as your own. Despite knowing that they shouldn’t do it, I find kids repeatedly copying sentences and paragraphs from the web and thinking that it’s no big deal. To me, this indicates one thing: we have to do a better job teaching students how to digest information and make their own meaning from what they read. We need to teach them how to research and pull apart what they are reading. Too many teachers assume that this is a step that can be skipped and just send kids off to research. If students had a better grasp of how to research, understand, and make their own meaning, then I think the plagiarism of the written word would become less of a problem.

However, with technology making images, music, and other work more available than ever to anyone in any location, we now must share with students the importance of protecting everyone’s rights to their own creations beyond just written work, like pictures, images, presentations, and music to name a few. Education World has a five part series on their site called The Educator’s Guide to Copyright and Fair Use. It talks about all the main points of copyright and the ins and outs of ‘Fair Use’. I think that it is a good reference point for educators looking for information.

So, all this thinking about copyright and a phone call with a friend reminded me of another issue I had on my mind lately. My friend mentioned her use of the site Pinterest, and I said that I hadn’t been on there in awhile because I had read some interesting articles about copyright violations through ‘pinning’ pictures and the site’s Terms of Service (which not coincidentally were updated just a week ago) leaving their users high and dry if you were accused of pinning copyrighted work. A little research led to a slew of articles.

This article was really interesting because it clearly explains the problem that Pinterest is having with individuals as they ‘pin’ work to their boards. Greekgreek demonstrates how the Creative Commons licensed image she uses in the article was pinned several times, but while she links it back to the original owner, the Pinterest pics link back to her article, failing to credit the original creator. There are also more comments on the article than one could read, but some from people whose images are being illegally pinned and how it is affecting their work. Plus, Greekgeek links many other resources on the topic.

This article gives details about the lawyer and Pinterest user (Kirsten Kowalski) who first ‘blew the whistle’ on the copyright issues with Pinterest.

There is also an update to her original post about the new Pinterest Terms of Service.

Some rights reserved by DennisSylvesterHurd

So, do you ‘pin’? How does this knowledge affect your use or non-use of the site? I’m curious to see where everyone ‘draws the line’. As of now, my account is still there, but I haven’t pinned anything in months because of these developments. Let me know what you think!

7 thoughts on “Drawing the Line

  1. I pin, but I try not to repin. If I like something, I click to go to the source webpage and pin from there. I am more interested in how to’s and recipes, so I need the source anyway, not just the inspiration of the picture.

  2. Holy Cow!!! Your comments on Pinterest caught me completely off guard. I recently opened an account with them and made a couple of boards. I started because a friend recommended it to me. As with many things, I have not been back in several weeks. However, the whole copyright thing never occurred to me. I was just sticking things there more-or-less for my own info, so I could find certain things easily when I wanted them. I may decide to remove myself from that spot.

    I am also interested in the Education World information on copyright. You have delivered a bundle of information that needs to be processed. Thanks.

  3. Great blog post, Carrie! I totally agree with Wes Fryer that it is our responsibility as educators to ensure that students understand how to properly attribute the work of others. However, I do think that many educators need to update their own understandings of copyright and attribution in the day-to-day delivery of curriculum. I know that I have created many a presentation for the numerous students that I have taught over the past 3 – 5 years. Those presentations included information about literature that did not come from my own ideas (often cited using proper MLA formatting); however, I can guarantee that I have used hundreds of photos from internet sites in my presentations and I did not give proper credit. It wasn’t really until last school year that it occurred to me that photos should be treated like a quote from Shakespeare! One of my IB students asked me to look at her Extended Essay for Art because she had used so many photos from numerous sources and figured that, as an English teacher, I would know how to advise her. Rather than admit my lack of knowledge, I quickly discovered how to cite photos and much more! So, I am now able to model this for students, but I have a strong feeling that this practice is not one that all of my colleagues are aware of.

  4. Pinterest caught my eye in October of last year and it had me so excited about collecting images for personal and professional work. I thought it would be the perfect way for my art students to maintain and manage inspiration for their own work. But, from the start I’ve always hesitated about using it because the copyright issue was not clear. I created an account, but haven’t any made any boards, yet. Yet. I would really love to and I can see how it can be addicting, but I feel like the possibility for copyright infringement is too great, especially with the new terms of service.
    Sure, we could argue that the site’s potential and use is for the greater good and shouldn’t be beholden to the archaic copyright laws, but in the end, copyrighted work is being shared without permission.
    Thanks for including the links to several articles about the issue.

  5. Pingback: Drawing the Line…Part Two | five.one.five.zero.zero

  6. Great blog site. Really well thought out and comprehensively linked postings. I too opened a Pintrest account but haven’t posted anything simply because the concept doesn’t resonate with me I hadn’t even thought about copyright violations but it is a completely valid point and shows how little awareness there is of this issue.

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