Copyright or Copywrong

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The more I read about copyright, citation, attribution, and the struggle to what is legally correct and an acceptable loophole, the more I find myself in a fog.  There seems to be great latitude under the “fair use” phrase especially when using material for an educational purpose.  I take great solace in Doug Johnson’s compilation of copyright posts.  He seems to be guided by a common sense theme, often missing from other discussions.  The idea that as long as it is non-commercial, for an educational use, and attribution given one is most likely safe appeals to me.  I have never heard of any school or child being given a take down order or taken to court.

Perhaps by encouraging students and teachers to license their images and other materials via Creative Commons each group will have a better feel for the ownership issue.  Putting the shoe on the other foot so to speak.

Speaking of Creative Commons, the people at Common Craft have really got a knack of explaining things in a simple, concise way.  Their video “Creative Commons Explained” is a perfect example of this.  Years ago, I remember seeing one on wikis.  I am going to look it up.  Makes me wish I could draw.

Now for a confession.  I did not read much of the Curator’s Code.  I got to this paragraph,

“While we have systems in place for literary citation, image attribution, and scientific reference, we don’t yet have a system that codifies the attribution of discovery in curation as a currency of the information economy, a system that treats discovery as the creative labor that it is.”

and felt my eyes glaze over and my mind drift away to what I might have for dessert later.  I sent the quote to friends teaching in Scotland.  They have dubbed this an example of “Jargon as Another Language”.  It was suggested we had been JALfered.  I do understand the need for uniformity.  I am after all a librarian who owns a copy of Sears Library Headings and a copy of Dewey Decimal Classification.  I just want the argument to be in plain English.


7 thoughts on “Copyright or Copywrong

  1. Hi Gwen, great reflection! I too am in a fog, as you so eloquently put it. I teach fifth grade and want to be sure that I am having my students do the right thing when using content from the web in their projects. Thanks for the link to the Common Craft blurb about Creative Commons. I am going to show this to my class on Monday morning as we have just begun a project using Keynote and they will be adding photographs into their presentation. The way the explain information is invaluable. Uniformity would be nice because I know for a fact we are all doing this copyright thing differently at my school.

    • What kind of project are you going to do with Keynote? I am always on the prowl for good ideas. thanks for the feedback. It is how comforting to know that I am in the same boa as others.

  2. Gwen – love your blog post and it is nice to know I”m not the only one in a fog and about copyright issues. The videos from Common Craft did help explain things to me as well and would be beneficial for students. I hope we find the uniformity we need so we can teach students how to cite and adhere to copyright rules in our digital world.

  3. Hi Gwen,

    Nice post! This part of your post resonated with me:

    “The idea that as long as it is non-commercial, for an educational use, and attribution given one is most likely safe appeals to me. I have never heard of any school or child being given a take down order or taken to court.”

    This philosophy takes me back to my days in university and the ever-present “Kinko’s packet” that was, in my case, a pile of photocopied articles and excerpts on French literature, history, and philosophy. Since this was B.I. (Before Internet), accessing primary sources in French in Mid-West America was more than challenging, I imagine. Inside the cover of every Kinko’s packet was a copy of the right to reproduce documents for educational purposes and I seem to recall the number of copies was that were covered under this right was 100. The Kinko’s packet seems to fall into this thinking and I have adhered to it and referenced it many times. However, I have read recently that Kinko’s was called to the table on the production of these packets for university professors. I doubt they are all that necessary now on the 21st century university campus.

    • Thanks for the comment, Christina. Your reference to Kinko’s reminded me materials that would be left for me as a substitute teacher. Especially if I was going to be in the class for several days. Lots of photocopied materials, neatly collated, and inserted into a folder. Strange how I never thought about copyright then. Of course, my thoughts while subbing in middle and high schools were mainly of survival.

  4. I can certainly identify with the fog of the copyright issue. I’m living in Myanmar and we don’t abide by any copyright laws here. Teachers are instructed to white out any reference on photocopies. My students definitely don’t know about copyright, and it’s difficult to explain it to them when they have never been exposed to it here.
    I think in many cases things can be explained as simply or complicated as one likes. After sifting through many of the websites and fair use policies I felt the glaze of jargon come over my brain. The bottom line is people need to respect someone else’s creation, and give them credit for it, when being used. Having students go through the process of creating and image and getting a creative commons license would be a good way for them to understand the perspective of the creator, like you said put the shoe on the other foot. Great idea!

    • Having lived in China I understand the laxness about copyright. Mind you at SAS we put some emphasis on citation, etc. the important thing is to start giving the kids an idea and building on it year after year. I would love to visit Mynamar, restrictions and all.

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