NIST Radio is the school radio station that I am working with students to bring to life. In my past it was radio that launched a brief career in the media and it is my genuine love of the medium which motivates me to help facilitate this latest project. One of the reasons I respect radio as a medium is that there is no place to hide – I always felt that print journalist always had the chance to pick and choose their content and gloss over the bad interview and instead talk about the types of jumper the band members were wearing. TV on the other hand like a magician could always get away with a smoke and mirrors process of deception where the purpose of the content could be disguised by flash graphics. Radio also runs greater risks; too easily it can become aural wallpaper so to have an impact requires a real understanding of both the audience and production. So I really want the students involved in learning how to make great radio to appreciate all of the subtle nuances and this should include the consideration of copyright and in particular the contentious issue of recorded music.
Musicians, or more often the associated record companies, own the rights to the songs they produce. By buying this music you gained the right to listen to it and make a copy but not to broadcast it to an audience. This initially gets in the way of broadcasting NIST Radio. Thankfully a fair use doctrine includes a statement allowing the reproduction for educational purposes. Although I imagine this was set up to allow the photocopying sections of a text to help in class the educational process of learning how to produce radio still provides a fit within this identified caveat.
Infringements of copyright doers not only consider how it is used but also with whom it is used with. The production of a music show to be broadcast to students – who can, and will be encouraged to, critique the show itself – in a specific part of the school does seem to continue in the vein of educational purposes. However, with the internet it now becomes incredibly easy to broadcast content, at its most basic in the form of a podcast, to the world. Furthermore, although my school is not for profit, it still does charge students to attend so using copyrighted content to promote something which the artist does not agree would seem unjust. I know at the heart of it that argument would require an artist with an anti-education policy but it is a possibility which should be considered.
So having considered the issues of copyright with respect to NIST Radio here are the approaches we will be taking. The music radio shows of NIST Radio which contain copyrighted music will only be broadcast at school to students for the educational purpose of developing the skills of the producers and providing a wider forum for the critical analysis. NIST News will be produced with the express requirement that all content does not have a restrictive copyright. This provides us with the opportunity of sharing via the web with the wider NIST community (and in fact the world). The NIST Arts show will also have a policy of avoiding copyrighted content but will be able to include some sections in which the content is being critically analysed, for instance a film or music review.
It is useful for students to appreciate these issues and I hope they will in the future I be asking if it is right that the music being played out was illegally downloaded or if we should be posting off royalties cheques to artist we play at the year 7 school disco – no that is a conversation for another time.