The Remix Culture

The topic of “remixes” and “mashups” is part of a discussion that I have had lately with a colleague who is teaching a Movie Making course to middle school students. They are begging, and I mean begging, to create music videos where they lip sync to popular songs, like this popular example from the USA Olympic swimming team this summer. We have been debating the copyright logistics of such a task, and I have been thinking about it more while reading about remixes and fair use.

I most appreciated the “Everything is a Remix” video series in gaining knowledge about this topic. I thought Kirby Ferguson did such a great job explaining the concept and demonstrating the remix culture in music, film, and ideas over the course of history. His work provides examples of original pieces that were remixed or sampled by others for new works. (Didn’t we watch Part 4 in Course 1 or 2?)

Some rights reserved by fotonen

This image is a remix of two photos and an idea. All credited on the flickr page of the artist.

I also liked this short piece posted on gigaom. The article discusses how the surge of internet based media has put huge pressure on the issue of copyright, and the debate of ownership by the creator of the content. Many people create YouTube videos under the guise of Fair Use, but does what they’re creating really fall under that umbrella? This article also references quotes from Andy Baio’s blog post about the same topic.

Baio even says, “Under current copyright law, nearly every cover song on YouTube is technically illegal.”

Many videos are removed from YouTube and accounts are threatened to be closed due to suspected copyright infringement. Our Movie Making teacher has actually received notices from YouTube about this.

The swim team video is up to 9,495,314 views. Hmmm….

I also thought that this article was worthy of sharing in reference to how MIT’s Scratch program encourages remixing. And, from there, I was led to this Code of Best Practices, which may prove useful in deciding what is allowed under Fair Use.

And, so, I’m back to the same point.

While creating the music videos would certainly allow students to meet the movie making objectives through filming, editing, and remixing, and their intentions for use of their work would be non-commercial, I am not still entirely convinced that using an entire copyrighted song falls within Fair Use.

What are your thoughts?

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 Couldn’t resist.


Course 2 Final Project

Sitting here wondering how we’ve come to the end of Course 2 already when it seems like  yesterday this CoETaIL journey was just beginning. But, of course, since then, I’ve become a diligent reader of my ever-growing RSS feed, started checking my Twitter account a bit more regularly (and perhaps even using it from time to time), and found a growing desire to keep pushing forward to learn more. I think that this is the greatest accomplishment, finding that motivation within yourself. It is what we strive for with the students in our classes.

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#intrinsic motivation?

For this project, of working to develop an Acceptable Use Policy for your school, I responded to a Twitter request from Mike Nonato who works at Pechersk School International in Ukraine. We took a relatively relaxed approach to this project, basically just sending each other Google Docs and emails and offering feedback along the way. I’ve read some blog posts that seem to indicate a more formal process and document, but I think what we’ve done works all the same. You can find Mike’s blog here.

Since I currently work at the American School of Milan, I set out first to find out what kind of AUP was already in place. I found that our Parent/Student Handbook offers a few pages of information and rules mostly designed for our Upper School One-to-One Laptop Program. (Our program is essentially a bring your own device model, where the students purchase a computer that must meet certain requirements. We offer a model (Dell Latitude) that many students purchase and others bring a different device of their choosing.) There is a section on Appropriate Technology Usage Guidelines, stating that you must bring a working laptop to school every day, that you are expected to have a fully charged battery and bring your charger, that playing digital games not assigned by a teacher is prohibited, along with using file sharing software and downloading, distributing and collecting pirated software and other digital media. Consequences are referred to the general discipline section of the handbook.

There are no separate guidelines written for the elementary school. So, since Mike and I are both Integration Specialists in K-5 settings much of our conversation centered on what we would want to use for students in this age group.

The document that I’ve put together is something that I think could work for many elementary buildings. I researched some of the AUPs from other schools and referred often to International School of Bangkok‘s document designed for grades 4 and 5. (Thanks to Cheryl Terry for posting this on her blog.) I thought it was a great jumping off point and gave me a framework for how I wanted to format to be.

Here’s what I’ve put together. Because it is a K-5 setting I think that using positive statements is important, along with keeping it short and to the point. I think that with grades 3-5 you could discuss this document as it is, but for K-2 a more broken down version using less text and more pictures and images would be important.

Thoughts? I’d appreciate the feedback and hope to work with my school administration to consider implementing a document like this and allow us to be proactive in our approach to technology use.

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!