Thursday, July 16, 2009

Fair Use

In my previous post, I referenced a video that was created by Michael Wesch.  I watched another one of his videos, entitled “An Anthropological Introduction to YouTube.”  It is interesting, but long, at close to an hour.

Michael discusses copyright issues, and mentions the fact that YouTube contains many remixes, which are against the law.  Michael mentions a TED Talk speech presented by Larry Lessig.  Larry’s speech also concerns copyright issues and the emerging culture of remixing content.  I used TubeChop to clip the end of Larry’s speech, which I thought was the most interesting part:

Michael and Larry both make the point that copyright laws are turning everyone into criminals, and they wonder out loud what affect this has on the psyche of people.

From a teacher’s standpoint, I have been oft reminded that I have to make certain that my students only use creative commons material in their projects.

However, there is such a thing as fair use.  As Copyright Bay explains, teachers and students are allowed to use portions of media for educational purposes.  When I was a student and my teachers warned me about the dangers of plagiarism, I always wondered exactly how many sentences I was allowed to copy and quote from a book.  Well, it turns out that the powers-that-be have devised a completely not arbitrary formula:

The Fair Use Guidelines for Educational Multimedia provide for specific limits on the amount of copyrighted works that may be used.

  • For motion media -(e.g., video clips) up to 10% or 3 minutes, whichever is less.
  • For text- up to 10% or 1000 words, whichever less.
  • For poems -
    • up to 250 words.
    • Three poem limit per poet
    • Five poem limit by different poets from an anthology.
  • For music - up to 10% or 30 seconds, whichever is less.
  • For photos and images
    • Up to 5 works from one author.
    • Up to 10% or 15 works, whichever is less, from a collection.
  • Database information-- up to 10% or 2,500 fields or cell entries, whichever is less.

(from Copyright Bay)

So, as a teacher, I think I can safely allow my students to use any media in their projects as long as they only use a fraction of it, and it is not necessary for every image, sound and video they use to have a creative commons license.

That being said, students should to be educated about copyright laws and fair use.  Copyright Bay and Teaching Copyright are good resources.


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