First thing I noticed in both articles this week is the reference to lawyers. Both authors were quick to point out that they don’t have legal training,which to me simply highlights the complexity of the copyright issue. With all the grey areas, it appears one needs a legal degree to truly stick to the letter of the law and sleep well at night with the knowledge they have not indeed broken any copyright laws. So what is a layperson to do?
Living in Asia the line between acceptable copyright violation and illegal activity is blurred. In my current host country, Myanmar, I have no idea where to purchase legal versions of computer programs or movies. Our book club regularly has books copied since we can’t access the real version to buy them. The embassy workers are not permitted to go out and copy the books, but they seem perfectly okay to hand over 4,000 kyatt for a newly copied book.
The lack of enforceable laws on the internet makes me nervous to post student work or, even more terrifying, student photos. How can I be a part of the online collaborative world without opening myself and my students up to privacy violation?
The short answer is you can’t. Once on the web, you lose at least a piece of your privacy and right to your work. It is an exercise in trust. You have to trust that the people who want to use your work or image will do so after asking your permission or in a way you would agree with. We have to trust that Alison Chang’s experience is an anomaly.
I model for my students the moral ways of borrowing items from the internet I even emailed the Purdue OWL group to ask permission to put their link on my site. I struggle with the question posed this week by Jeff, “How do we teach copyright in Asia, in countries where international copyright law is not followed to begin with?” It is truly an uphill battle. Without access to the “real” version of books and movie and programs by asking my students to stick to copyright laws, I am asking them to deny themselves information.
In the end, it’s clear that copyright must change. The world is changing;our access to information is changing; the notion of intellectual property must change to meet the demands of the online age.