Copyright, copy left, creative commons, free?


The articles for our EC & I 831 class this week focus on copyright, creative commons and open education.

These issues are hard to navigate around as a teacher because things are changing so rapidly and have changed immensely since I started teaching.

Right now I am home with my son who has picked up norovirus, I am sure that it is the same one that has hit the campus. None of us have been on campus lately, but it is hard to contain a virus at one location just like it is hard to contain copyright images and materials on the web. Students may not understand the difference. Information is going back and forth and being downloaded onto the Internet at an immeasurable rate.

As a teacher, I try quite hard not to break copyright, it is actually becoming more difficult now that we are expected to use resource-based learning instead of just focusing on one textbook per subject area. Creative commons and Open Education could help me immensely with resource-based learning (although I have to translate most things into French anyways…). In fact, I often use YouTube videos, TumbleBooks and other true French resources when I am teaching because I want students to hear what a mother tongue French speaker sounds like as they are learning.

A few years ago, when I was still teaching high school, we actually had someone from one of the copyright offices visit our school  and keep track of everything we photocopied. It was actually pretty creepy. We called him the copyright police.

One thing that I am actually always wondering about is music. I know that YouTube videos can be taken down if the music is copyrighted. I found this site where you can find royalty-free free music. I am sure that there are many others out there, however when I searched for free music, I got more sites about royalty free music than actual FREE music.

I don’t imagine that most of the tunes are the current top 40 ones that the teens like though. I also realized that “royalty free” is not the same thing as “free.”

One of the videos that we watched for class addresses the fact that it would be good if there was more available in creative commons spaces. Larry Lessig is the speaker of the TEDtalk and the lawyer who founded creative commons.

We had to watch one of two other videos this week, but this subject fascinates me so much that I took the time to watch both of them. Both videos also features Larry Lessig, the lawyer who gave the TEDtalk above.

RIP: A Remix Manifesto

The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz

The video above was heartbreaking to me to watch as a mom. It describes the life of Aaron Swartz and his eventual suicide. He was obviously a prodigy who knew much more about computers from an early age than the rest of us. However, the government went after him for downloading journals. The potential penalties seemed enormous.

I do not know exactly where I stand on the copyright issue. I am an extremely rule abiding person. I will not even speed. However, that has more to do with my fear of breaking a rule and being pulled over than being against speeding (well now that I am a mom I am against speeding, but I digress…) I pay for all of my songs on iTunes. I even pay for the shows I watch on iTunes since I no longer have cable. I may have downloaded one or two songs on Napster back in the day, but that was the extent of my knowledge. It is actually hard today to adhere to copyright laws now that we have gone to resource based learning and we do not have a textbook for every student. We also do not have a device for every student.

I do think that students are going to keep copying and pasting their favourite images off the Internet and dancing to air bands of their favourite songs. There should be some leeway for educational use. If I understand correctly, a teacher would be breaking copyright every time he or she shows a popular movie in their class unless the division has paid for a license (my last division kept track of the films we showed so I think they did pay somebody somewhere something…)

It is a tricky road to navigate. How do we find the middle ground between intellectual property, paying artists, scientists and researchers a wage and transmitting information that could be lifesaving or the new cure to a disease? Creative commons and open education are certainly part of a solution to this problem, but not the whole answer. Thoughts?



One thought on “Copyright, copy left, creative commons, free?

  1. loganpetlak

    As you address, it’s a frustratingly unclear and inconsistent line. Best intentions would dictate that if you put an idea you genuinely stood beside into the world you would want it to be free to use as long as credit is provided… I think that’s where advertisements come into effect. If the idea is significant enough reimbursement according to interest may be the path… this is an overly simplified possible solution.. but ideas are basically monteraily rewarded given popularity.
    Good post Andrea!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s