Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Digital Citizenship Week: Copyright and Wrong

creative commons licensed (BY-SA) flickr photo by liako:
http://flickr.com/photos/liako/3700283776
Happy Digital Citizenship Week!  This year, Digital Citizenship Week is from October 19-25 and it's mission is to recognize and celebrate the safe, appropriate, and responsible use of technology. In lieu of Digital Citizenship Week, I thought I might share some information and resources regarding Copyright Law as it pertains to education. 

As Digital Citizens, we often emphasize the importance of digital safety, security, and appropriate communication, which are all critical elements of digital citizenship.  However, copyright is also a critical element of digital citizenship that often gets overlooked.  Why, you might ask?  Maybe because it's not valued as much as the other components of digital citizenship.  Or, maybe it's because we as educators don't fully understand copyright, or know how to find and use resources responsibly and appropriately.  I'm thinking it's the latter.  So, hopefully this blog post will shed some light into copyright and highlight some resources and tools that are available for educators and students to use for projects and learning assignments. 

So, what is Copyright exactly?  

Copyright is basically an exclusive right that is automatically given to the owner of an original work. To be considered work, it needs to be tangible in some form of text, imagery, visual art, audio, video, or performance.  Believe it or not, but, “Copyright vests automatically as soon as you create an original work that is fixed in a tangible medium.  Consequently, nearly every person in the country today is a copyright owner” (Crews, 2012, pp. 23-24).  For example, if you snap a photo on your smartphone, you automatically have copyright protection on that photo.  So in reality, we are all owners and users of copyrighted material.

What happens if I want to use someone else's work?

Below are some strategies that you can use to avoid copyright infringement (Crews, 2012, p. 139). However, it is always a good idea to include attribution to the author or source when using someone else's work:
  1. No permission is needed if the work is in the public domain
  2. No permission is needed if you use the work within fair use or any other exception
  3. Permission for some works may be available though a collective licensing agency such as Creative Commons
  4. Contact a copyright owner and draft a permission letter 
  5. Create your own original work  

1.  Public Domain: No permission is needed if the work is in the public domain. Works that are found in the public domain are works by owners who "... choose to publish online and to make the content available in full on the Internet, without restriction" (Crews, 2012, p. 37).  Due to recent advances in technology, many people are now choosing to publish their work online for open access. "Open access is a choice made by the copyright owner—not to relinquish rights, but to use the legal rights in order to make the work easily accessible" (Crews, 2012, p. 37). 

2.  Fair Use:  No permission is needed if you use the work within fair use.  Fair use can be defined as, "an exception to the rights of copyright owners, allowing the public to make limited uses of a protected work" (Crews, 2012, p. 53). When determining fair use, there are four factors that need to be considered: purpose, nature, amount, and effect (Crews, 2012, p. 59):
  • Purpose:  A nonprofit educational purpose can support a claim of fair use.  A transformative use can also be highly influential.
  • Nature:  Uses of factual, nonfiction works are more likely to be within fair use, while fair use applies more narrowly to creative works.
  • Amount: the less the amount of work used, the more likely it is fair use. 
  • Effect:  Uses that do not compete with the market for the copyrighted work are more likely fair use. 

3.  Creative Commons:  Permission for some works may be available through a collective licensing agency.  "Authors are now choosing to make many of their works available to the public under a Creative Commons license.  This voluntary system is essentially a grant of permission to the public to use the work for certain purposes. One of the most common options permits any noncommercial uses of the work with attribution to the author or source.  A work marked with that CC license may be used by anyone, for say, nonprofit education, provided the copies include the author’s name or other identification” (Crews, 2012, p. 37).  To find works that have a Creative Commons license, visit search.creativecommons.org.

4.  Reach Out:  Contact a copyright owner and draft a permission letter.  Sometimes it can be advantageous to make a general request to the copyright owner.  When making a request, it is often helpful to explain how you intend to use the work in connection with teaching or learning.  Some details to include in the request are (Crews, 2012):
  • A termination date for the permission
  • A maximum number of students using the work
  • The medium by which you will share the work
  • The specific nature of the use

5.  Create:  Become a copyright owner and create your own original work.   Often, the best solution to avoiding copyright infringement is to simply create your own work. Even though it might take longer, there can be a great sense of pride and accomplishment as a result.  Some ideas might include taking your own photos, drafting your own artwork, and writing down your own thoughts to be used for various projects and assignments.  And if you are interested in adding some extra protection to your work, you can always consider registering your work with the U.S. Copyright Office

Why Bother?

After reading this, some of you might be thinking to yourself, "People infringe on copyright almost every single day (with or without even knowing it).  No one ever gets caught and no one ever faces any consequences, so why should we even bother paying attention to the complications of copyright at all?"  While that might appear to be the case, it is important to know that "the owner can seek statutory damages of up to $30,000 per work infringed, in lieu of actual damages or profits. Moreover, the owner may also ask for reimbursement of attorney fees and the costs of litigation" (Crews, 2012, p. 102). Furthermore, "If you have committed a willful infringement, you may also face criminal penalties—including monetary fines and time in the federal prison system. (Crews, 2012, p. 103).

The purpose of sharing this information isn't to scare you, rather, it's to inform you! And in my opinion, the most important reason to care about copyright is simply because it's the right thing to do. Even though the chances of getting caught and facing consequences are slim to none, we should lead by example by showing respect to creators of work, and giving credit where credit is due.  That's what it takes to be a digital citizen.  That's the difference between copyright and wrong! 

So, the next time you find yourself wanting to use someone else's work, follow the five strategies to avoid copyright infringement, and use these resources below to help you find and cite your work.

Images
Photos For Class
Photopin
CraftyRights (Chrome extension)
Google Advanced Search: Usage Rights
Flickr Creative Commons
Every Stock Photo
Free Digital Photos

Audio
YouTube Audio Library
Jamendo
Royalty Free Music
National Jukebox LOC.gov
GarageBand
Soundtrap EDU
7 Places to Find Free Music & Sound Effects for Multimedia Projects

Video
YouTube → Search Filter → Creative Commons
Vimeo → Search Filter → Creative Commons
Moving Image Archive

Attribution
Purdue: OWL Research and Citation
Flickr CC Attribution Helper
EasyBib.com
Bibme.org

Educational Resources on Copyright

You might also like

Crews, K. D. (2012). Copyright law for librarians and educators: Creative strategies and practical solutions. Chicago: American Library Association.

1 comment:

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