Spirit if not the letter

 Some rights reserved by the|G|™

Some rights reserved by the|G|™

How do we teach copyright in Asia, in countries where the international copyright law is not followed to begin with?  What is our obligation as educators?

It’s important to give credit where credit is due.  I see our obligation on this topic as educators very simple:  lead by example, follow the law (or the spirit of the law, at least), and teach our students (and colleagues!) how and why to follow copyright law.

However, teaching copyright seems to be tricky.  It’s pretty complicated to understand what the actual law is and how it applies in particular cases and I say just do the best that you can.  In international schools, there is an additional layer of complexity especially in countries where copyright is not followed and where noncompliance is not a problem.  In those cases, my gut response is to follow and teach the copyright laws in the country that accredits the school.  If the school in not accredited, then follow and teach the laws of the country’s curriculum.  If it doesn’t have a curriculum in place, just pick a country with respectable copyright laws and follow and teach that.  Or at the very least, teach students that copyright is basically giving credit where credit is due.  Have a way you feel comfortable with and then teach your students how to give credit when they use someone else’s whatever.  Am I wrong in thinking that although its tricky, it’s not rocket science?  For example, when Jeff explained the expectations for crediting photos in our program, he also explained that there isn’t one universal standard way to give credit to someone’s something on the internet.  He has a way that works for him and, that respects the spirit of the law and that is was he expects us to do.  It’s super simple and – to me, at least – that works.

Here are some potentially useful links I found for teaching copyright.  I haven’t studied them in depth but I think, at the very least, they would be good jumping off points or idea generators:

YouTube’s Copyright school

Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Teaching Copyright 


On a side note/tangent, I think Creative Commons is a bit weird.  I had heard of it before but never explored what it was.  Now that I know a bit more – and I don’t claim that I know or understand everything about CC but I still can’t see how it covers anything that it is not covered by current copyright laws other than it does seem easier to understand and contact content owners.  I’m also bit surprised to know that it’s just a non-profit – not some governmental organization that actually has any sway over anything.  I know I’m not really explaining myself very coherently but does anyone else think it’s weird?

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3 Responses to Spirit if not the letter

  1. Avatar of Aroma Pannu Aroma Pannu says:

    I don’t know if I think that CC is weird- more like wow! How do a group of people get together, have an idea/vision, set up a non-profit to become 1 of the main ways that people who want to use the internet to share and collaborate are able to do so. I understand what you mean about questioning how it is different to what has been set up earlier in terms of copyright ways and laws. I think its different because it makes the whole process easier to understand and faster to execute with fewer hurdles to jump through. I could be wrong- this is just how I understand it. Anyone else have any insights?

    • Although I still think CC is weird, I do agree that the CC process is easier to understand. But now, I’m having a thought and am wondering if CC policy has ever gone against copyright law. I’m not sure if this is really a good analogy but I keep thinking of how the East India Trading company kept its own private army so it could do things its own way. CC has its own rules but still what is the greater authority? I feel like I”m not expressing myself very well but, I’m still proceessing. Just thoughts, no answers….

      Thanks for the comment, though!

    • Clint Hamada says:

      Creative Commons is about the content owner giving up some of his/her right granted by copyright. CC doesn’t replace copyright but rather supplements it. For example, if an image is listed as “all rights reserved”, technically I must contact the owner of that image and receive permission to use that image. Sometimes that permission may cost me money or sometimes it may just be that they say “Sure, no problem.” Either way, I need to ask before using.

      With CC, the owner of the image is granting me permission to use their image before I even ask, so long as I abide by the conditions that they set forth: non-commercial, share-alike, etc. If I don’t keep to those conditions, s/he still has the right to tell me to not use their work because I have violated the terms of the license.

      Oh, and one of the people who helped form CreativeCommons.org is Lawrence Lessig, a law professor at Harvard. If anybody knows copyright law, I bet it him!

      Hope that helps!

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