copyright

Copyright tools

Jane Park, July 29th, 2009

Last year, I blogged about the Copyright Advisory Network‘s nifty digital copyright slider, a tool that helps you tell whether a work is still copyrighted or whether it’s in the public domain.

Since then, the OITP at ALA (Office for Information Technology Policy of the American Library Association) has developed and published two new tools: the Fair Use Evaluator and the Exceptions for Instructors eTool. From the announcement,

“The Fair Use Evaluator is an online tool that can help users understand how to determine if the use of a protected work is a “fair use.” It helps users collect, organize, and document the information they may need to support a fair use claim, and provides a time-stamped PDF document for the users’ records.”

“The Exceptions for Instructors eTool guides users through the educational exceptions in U.S. copyright law, helping to explain and clarify rights and responsibilities for the performance and display of copyrighted content in traditional, distance and blended educational models.”

In addition to these two new tools, check out the existing Section 108 Spinner, which “help[s] you determine whether or not a particular reproduction is covered by [Section 108] exemption” that “allows libraries & archives, under certain circumstances, to make reproductions of copyrighted materials without the permission of the copyright holder.”

All three tools are licensed CC BY NC-SA.

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NY State Senate Goes CC

Fred Benenson, June 29th, 2009

If you’re reading the Creative Commons blog, chances are you’re aware of the fact that the United States federal government is not entitled to copyright protection for their works. If you didn’t know this, check out the Wikipedia article on the subject, or some of our past blog posts on the subject. This means that federal works are essentially in the public domain.

What you may not know is that works of American states, in contrast to works of the federal government, are actually entitled to copyright protection under U.S. law. This creates the very awkward consequence of states automatically holding copyright in the very state laws, rules and court decisions that bind their citizens, not to mention other types of content created by its employees who are paid from public coffers filled in part by their taxpayers. CC is not alone (check out legendary archivist Carl Malamud and his public.resource.org project for more info) in believing that all such works should belong to the public and reside in the public domain.

Needless to say, we think this is an enormous opportunity for proper application of our legal tools to free up state works.

This is why its exciting to see the New York State Senate adopt a Creative Commons License for the content on their website. The photos and text of NYSenate.gov are now available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives license, and 3rd party content, such as comments and user submitted photos are available under our Attribution license. Furthermore, the Senate has used our CC+ protocol to allow all other uses (even commercial ones and non-attribution ones) of the content so long as it is not for political fund raising purposes. In other words, if you’re not doing political fund raising you’re allowed to do whatever you want with the content.

While this is a somewhat novel approach to using our licenses, and indeed grants citizens rights to works they don’t currently have, it is only the first step. In the future, CC would love to see more states pushing their work into the public domain (and their policies into synchronicity with those of the federal government), for example by using our public domain waiver, CC0.

If you know of a state using CC licenses, add it to our wiki page on government uses of CC, or just let us know.

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EFF Teaches Copyright, without an agenda

Jane Park, May 28th, 2009

When it comes to copyright, our youth are too often bombarded with extremes. The entertainment industry giants propagate a skewed perspective by launching anti-copying educational programs, leaving out much of the balanced information necessary to cultivating user’s awareness about her real rights to a resource. This results in students thinking that they can react in only one of two ways: by breaking the law in the face of overbearing restrictions, or by doing absolutely nothing at all with copyrighted works, effectively stifling the learning that comes of creatively engaging with them.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation recognized this problem and went to work on a copyright curriculum that would not only be fair and balanced in perspective, but comprehensive in its scope by encouraging discussion and self-education. From the press release,

“Kids are bombarded with messages that using new technology is illegal… Instead of approaching the issues from a position of fear, Teaching Copyright encourages inquiry and greater understanding. This is a balanced curriculum, asking students to think about their role in the online world and to make informed choices about their behavior.”

ccLearn has taken a look at Teaching Copyright and we commend it. The curriculum is created and vetted by lawyers and promotes a balanced teaching perspective, clearing up much of the misinformation that is current industry propaganda. Like EFF Staff Attorney Corynne McSherry says, “Today’s tech-savvy teens will grow into the artists and innovators of tomorrow.” We need to help them “understand their digital rights and responsibilities in order to create, critique, and comment on their culture. This curriculum fills an educational void, introducing critical questions of digital citizenship into the classroom without misinformation that scares kids from expressing themselves in the modern world.”

The entire curriculum and accompanying resources on the Teaching Copyright website are licensed CC BY, which appropriately encourages students, teachers, and anyone else to adapt it to various educational needs and contexts.

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Teaching About Copyright and Fair Use for Media Literacy Education

Jane Park, May 26th, 2009

Last November, the Center for Social Media at AU released a Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literacy Education, which followed on the heels of a Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Online Video. These guides were aimed at clearing up many of the urban myths surrounding copyright, especially when it came to classroom use of copyrighted materials.

Now, the Media Education Lab at Temple University has produced excellent resources based on the original guide to help teachers teach about copyright and fair use in their classrooms. Resources include lesson plans, Powerpoint slides, videos, case studies, podcasts, and FAQs. The lesson plans iterate on topics from the code such as “Understanding Copyright”, “The Cost of Copyright Confusion”, and “Defining and Applying Fair Use”.

What tickles me: that in order to find out just what you can do with these resources, you get to view and use them first—Learning fair use via fair using! To use these resources in your classroom or study group (or for simply personal edification), check them all out here.

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Australia Publishes CC Info Pack

Jane Park, April 13th, 2009

Through its Copyright Advisory Group, the Australian Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs (MCEETYA) has published a Creative Commons information pack online, a bundle of eight documents that distills the basics of CC licensing and the philosophy behind it. This pack is a great resource for educators and students, and we encourage you to use it in your schools by adapting it however you like.

The info pack includes concise and concrete answers to simple questions, like:

What is Creative Commons?
How to Find Creative Commons Licensed Material
How to Attribute Creative Commons Licensed Material

and more. Find all documents at their Smartcopying website, “The Official Guide to Copyright Issues for Australian Schools and TAFE.” All of them are licensed CC BY, the most effective and open license for open educational resources.

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Copyright Exceptions and Limitations in OER

Jane Park, March 19th, 2009

For those of you interested in knowing how Copyright Exceptions and Limitations (known as Fair Use in the US) might affect open educational resources, there will be a working session on CEL at OCWC Global 2009 in Monterrey, Mexico next month. OCWC Global 2009 is the OpenCourseWare Consortium’s first international conference of its kind. The session on International Copyright Exceptions and Limitations may include current US work exploring issues of Fair Use in OER, but is, naturally, a much larger conversation encompassing many different legal jurisdictions. From the CEL wiki,

The realm of copyright exceptions and limitations is vast and complex. Every legal jurisdiction has its own formulation of what behaviors are exempt from copyright restrictions, and we have only begun to explore the question of how open licensing affects those formulations.

Since we have yet to sort out which aspects of the CEL landscape ccLearn can reasonably investigate, and which partners are interested in being collaborators, we hope this working session will result in some great initial inquires into this international issue. To join a discussion of some of these topics, contribute to the wiki! You can also find out more at the OCW Blog.

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Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literacy Education

Jane Park, November 11th, 2008

Today, the Center for Social Media at AU released a Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literacy in Education—a guide for educators and students to the use of copyrighted materials in the classroom. This guide is aimed at clearing up many of the urban myths surrounding copyright, as many educators mistakenly believe that the use of copyrighted photographs in the classroom is illegal, when in fact, fair use allows such uses without teachers even having to obtain permissions.

From last week’s press release

“A variety of content and media is now available online, but fear and misinformation have kept teachers and students from using this valuable material, including portions of films, TV coverage, photos, songs, articles, and audio, in the classroom.

Now, thanks to a coordinated effort by the media literacy community, supported by experts at American University and Temple University, teachers and students have a step-by-step guide that simplifies the legalities of using copyrighted materials in an academic setting…

The Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literacy Education outlines five principles, each with limitations:

Educators can, under some circumstances:

      1. Make copies of newspaper articles, TV shows, and other copyrighted works, and use them and keep them for educational use.

      2. Create curriculum materials and scholarship with copyrighted materials embedded.

      3. Share, sell and distribute curriculum materials with copyrighted materials embedded.

Learners can, under some circumstances:

      4. Use copyrighted works in creating new material

      5. Distribute their works digitally if they meet the transformativeness standard.”

A great video accompanies the guide, if you want a quick and entertaining primer on the issues the code addresses.

This project was funded by one of our own long-term supporters, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

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U of Michigan Library Adopts CC Licenses

Jane Park, October 16th, 2008

In another innovative move, the University of Michigan Library has adopted CC licensing for all of its own content. Any work that is produced by the library itself, and to which the University of Michigan holds the copyrights, will be released under the Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial license (CC BY-NC). This allows anyone, including you, to access, adapt, remix, reproduce, and redistribute the library’s works for noncommercial purposes. This is fantastic news for educators, researchers, and students, who often dread the laborious task of obtaining permissions to synthesize diverse works with just as diverse (not to mention tricky) rights attached to them. From their press release:

The University of Michigan Library has decided to adopt Creative Common Attribution-Non-Commercial licenses for all works created by the Library for which the Regents of the University of Michigan hold the copyrights. These works include bibliographies, research guides, lesson plans, and technology tutorials. We believe that the adoption of Creative Commons licenses is perfectly aligned with our mission, “to contribute to the common good by collecting, organizing, preserving, communicating, and sharing the record of human knowledge.”

University Librarian Paul Courant said, “Using Creative Commons licenses is another way the University Library can act on its commitment to the public good. By marking our copyrighted content as available for reuse, we offer the University community and the public a rich set of educational resources free from traditional permissions barriers.”

Recall that they also recently installed the Espresso Book Machine, which prints on demand copies of over 2 million public domain books. Now they can add even more works to the mix! What will the Library be up to next? Thanks to Molly Kleinman for alerting us to the good news.

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Ordering an Espresso at the U of Michigan Library

Jane Park, September 18th, 2008

is now an entirely different process. The University of Michigan is the first university to have installed the Espresso Book Machine, also termed “the ATM of books,” in one of its libraries. The wait time is about the same, but you’re ordering books now instead of Italian coffee, and the product price is a bit higher—averaging at 10 bucks a pop. But 10 bucks for a printed and bound book that is made in seven minutes is a pretty good deal, especially when you’ve got almost 2 million books to choose from. How is this possible? Or even legal?

The University of Michigan libraries have nearly 2 million books digitized for on demand printing, in addition to thousands of more books from the Open Content Alliance and other sources. But trust me when I say that these books are all very legal; in fact, they have been out of copyright for 85 years, or more. As a result, they are in the public domain, available for anyone to print, read, and repurpose—for free. The espresso version is simply covering printing costs. Compared to the average price of books these days, especially textbooks, ten bucks is pocket change. Online sites like Lulu.com already offer print versions of CC licensed works for cheap—remember the OER Handbook for Educators? It’s only 19.99 for 284 pages. Of course, ordering online is a bit slower than ordering from the EBM. 

Once the machine is installed, it is capable of being connected to other digital collections not limited to the U of M’s. Props to the University of Michigan for yet again leading the way on copyright issues.

While we’re on the topic, the Open Content Alliance has the similar goal of “building a digital archive of global content for universal access”. The Open Content Alliance is “a group of cultural, technology, nonprofit, and governmental organizations from around the world that [helps to] build a permanent archive of multilingual digitized text and multimedia content. [It] was conceived by the Internet Archive and Yahoo! in early 2005 as a way to offer broad, public access to a rich panorama of world culture.”

ccLearn is very excited to attend this year’s Internet Archive conference in San Francisco where an OCA meeting will take place in October. The theme for this year’s conference is “Using Digital Collections.”

Thanks to Peter Suber and The Wired Campus for alerting us to the EBM. You can even watch a video of how the machine works.

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Digital Copyright Slider

Jane Park, July 17th, 2008

Thanks to The Wired Campus, I stumbled across this nifty digital copyright tool developed by the American Library Association’s Copyright Advisory Network (in the Office for Information Technology Policy). The ALA Copyright Advisory Network is dedicated to educating librarians and others on copyright, something that is no simple matter, since, “with copyright, there are no definitive answers.”

Check out the digital copyright slider. The tool itself is pretty simple. You basically slide the arrow up and down the years starting from “Before 1923″. The boxes on the left (Permission Needed? and Copyright Status/Term) tell you whether a work is still copyrighted or whether it’s now in the public domain, free for you to use and repurpose any way you like. Unfortunately, actually figuring out the copyright status of a work isn’t so simple as dragging your mouse—most of the years seem to be marked by a fuzzy period of “Maybe”. For example, say John Doe wrote and published a poem between 1964-1977 and you are able to find a copyright notice—you still can’t really figure out whether the copyright still applies. And if you can’t find a copyright notice? Well, you just don’t know then either. The same answer (don’t know) seems to apply to a lot of years here…

Props to the ALA for illuminating the incredible complications in US copyright (yeah, that’s right—this sliding scale also only applies to works published within the US). And double props for licensing their tool CC BY-NC-SA. I leave you now with this thought:


Photo licensed CC BY-NC by Nancy

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