Saturday, November 6, 2010

Copyright Education

I read an interesting blog post today written by NaBloPoMo blogger, Kim Ulmanis. The article is about a so-called editor who used material written by Monica Gaudio, and others, without permission. If an editor doesn't know any better, what can we expect from the rest of the population?

I hope you will read Kim's article. It's amazing what the spread of information on the web can accomplish.

Part of my job as a school librarian is to educate students and teachers about copyright law. It is an incredibly complex set of rules and guidelines with many gray areas. I could have done a November Copyright Blog Theme. After thirty copyright posts, I'm sure there'd still be questions. Many school districts keep a copyright lawyer on call to answer questions as they arise. If you don't have a lawyer, how do you know what to do? Do you err on the side of safety or do you err on the side of advancing/enhancing education? Fair Use is part of the copyright law that allows teachers to use copyrighted material for educational purposes. It has its own set of rules and guidelines to follow.

My stapler isn't copyrighted, but I appreciate it when a person asks to borrow it before they take it. When I was getting my masters degree in library education, my professor told us that when he was a high school librarian, he dipped his stapler and all other school "possessions" in bright neon orange paint. That way there was no doubt which stapler was his, no matter where it was taken and left.

When a person takes a photograph and posts it on the Internet, that picture is not free for the taking. The photographer owns the copyright and if you want to use it, you need to ask. It's more serious than borrowing a stapler without asking. Copyright infringement can result in fines and/or jail time, borrowing a stapler rarely does.

New technology has made it easy to steal other's creative work but at the same time it has created a new mind set: it's good to share. Creative Commons (Google it) allows a creator to give permission to use his/her creation. There are different levels: You can use my creation but not change it, with or without attribution. You can take my work and change it, create something new from it, with or without making money. It goes from total unrestricted use to very restricted reuse. Artists have to go to Creative Commons and register their work to make it "legal" for others to use their creations. Did you know that you can do an advanced Google search for pictures that have been licensed for reuse by Creative Commons?

Thanks Kim for the inspiration for today's blog post. It's not what I had planned, but I like it.

Now, let me have it, what do you think about copyright law?


1 comment:

Kim said...

I didn't see this post until a week later but I am glad I did. I'm thrilled you were inspired by my post and felt compelled to share it. You're also welcome for the inspiration to write it.

I think things like these need to be open and discussed. It is evident the editor had no shame nor any courtesy and respect for others. The internet torch party showed her exactly what the power of the net can do.

Hopefully some good can eventually come out of it.