Copyright and the Teacher

Copyright law has always been with us I remember a school being prosecuted under the law for photocopying music for the school end of year celebrations. You would think that the grey areas of copyright law would have been made clear either black or white but I do not think this is the case.A couple of years ago I asked the question regarding Media Studies work where a student creates a piece of work around lets say an animation and uses music that is in the current chart because it adds to the scene.The advice I was given was that in this case it was fine to use the music as long as the only people who heard it were the media studies teacher and the examiner. If the student was to show the work to peers or family then there would be an infringement. This seemed to me to be pretty crazy as the whole idea of producing a piece of work is to show it to others for comments! Anyway I digress,  I have been reading a piece of research from Finland which highlights that the high cost of digital copyright opposed to printing copyright seems to be keeping the print medium relevant for teachers. However I think the pressure to create startling resources for students to engage with tends to mean that teachers do not go through the verification needed to use the digital copy legally maybe working on the fact that they probably will not be caught out even though the offence is deemed a sack-able event. Does this mean we have a teaching profession of deviant criminals?

For new entrants into the profession it can be sometimes hard to adhere to the copyright laws especially when they are of a generation that are used to downloading remixing altering re purposing and publishing. It is equally difficult  for students to understand that they are not allowed to just take work and reuse it. Teachers have a role to play in pointing out that copyright law exists to protect creative flair but at the same time we should be able to justify a safe and proper way to legally use digital assets within the education sphere. Educational licences go some way towards this but in some areas the cost to the school is prohibitive and the time to ask for permission too long a process to warrant the time. Creative commons is a start but and a helpful move forward but how we allow our young people to use resources effectively and within the law is something that will be argued about for some time to come. I suppose what I am trying to argue is a special case for education but as the audience is global, I cannot see a time when all access to all creations will be free. Maybe a performing rights model should be created for digital content but then that will need someone to take up the mantle of custodian of the assets which may threaten the early philosophy of the freedom of the net.

“Copyrighted Internet material in education—teacher needs and use arrangements”, Merja Halme & Outi Somervuori

Published online: 3 May 2011, Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

What do you think?


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