fair use

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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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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Is Gatehouse’s Complaint a Problem for Creative Commons?

Fred Benenson, January 23rd, 2009

You may have heard about Gatehouse Media suing the New York Times Co. over the linking of Creative Commons licensed news stories on the Times’ Boston.com. Zachary Seward over at the Nieman Journalism Lab has been covering the various developments of the case and most interestingly, an e-mail from Howard Owens (whom we highlighted in our original post on Gatehouse media adopting CC) where he points out that:

… a few graphs and a link back to our site isn’t a Creative Commons issue, but a fair use issue, and they would probably win on that one.

Today, however, Seward posted a piece on how CC’s NonCommercial license plays into the case. Featuring an interview with David Ardia of The Citizen Media Law Project at Harvard’s Berkman center, Seward suggests that the issues CC is currently investigating surrounding NonCommercial complicate the case.

We respectfully disagree.

Put simply, we do not believe that CC licenses, or our research on the definition of NonCommercial are relevant to Gatehouse’s complaint. The real debate is about fair use — just as Howard Owens pointed out in his e-mail to other Gatehouse staff. Creative Commons licenses do not prohibit fair uses of CC licensed content. This means that a NonCommercially licensed work (such as Gatehouse’s) can be used commercially so long as the use is fair.

Is The NY Times Co. using Gatehouse’s content fairly by linking to it using snippits and headlines? We’ll leave that up to the courts to decide, but if the famous Perfect 10 v. Google Inc. case is any indicator, condensing and linking content by third parties has been upheld as a fair use in court already. There are obviously differences between the Perfect 10 case and this one, but if the Gatehouse claim were upheld, it would do far more damage to fair use than Creative Commons ever could.

The EFF reports that the trial is set to begin on Monday. Watch their page dedicated to the case for further developments.

UPDATE: The suit has been settled, download the joint statement here. Also, it should be noted (as Gatehouse counsel has pointed out below), that Howard Owen’s original e-mail was not in fact referencing the NYTimes’ usage of Gatehouse CC’d content, but another party’s use of it.

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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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EVENT: “Fair Use and The Future of the Commons”, Los Angeles 10/27

Cameron Parkins, October 20th, 2008


Image above courtesy of Wordle

For those based in Los Angeles, USC’s Institute for Multimedia Literacy is hosting a day long event, Fair Use and The Future of the Commons, next Monday (10/27) that focuses on fair use, copyright reform, and the notion of the ‘commons’. The entire lineup looks fascinating and CC’s Creative Director, Eric Steuer, will be speaking on a panel discussion titled “Agents of Change”. From IML:

With fear, uncertainty and misinformation dominating the discourse of copyright and intellectual property, Fair Use has become one of the most vexing issues in today’s academic landscape. This day-long event at USC’s Annenberg Research Park addresses these issues head-on with a series of presentations and discussions with key players in the advancement and redefinition of fair use, coupled with a faculty showcase and hands-on workshops at the Institute for Multimedia Literacy. The goal of this event is to bring clarity to questions of fair use for scholars and educators working with copyrighted media for research, teaching and electronic publication. We believe this event will facilitate some much-needed discussion of the state of contemporary Fair Use and where we should be setting our sights for the future. The event is free and open to the public – further details and schedule to be announced soon!

The event will take place at Kerckhoff Hall in the Annenberg Research Park (Google Map) between 9AM-6PM and is free and open to the public.

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The $2.2 trillion fair use (U.S.) economy

Mike Linksvayer, September 12th, 2007

The Computer and Communications Industry Association has released a study claiming that the value added in the United States by industries dependent on fair use is $2.2 trillion dollars annually, or one sixth of the U.S. economy, apparently almost 70% more than than value added by copyright industries, as measured by other recent studies. From the release:

“As the United States economy becomes increasingly knowledge-based, the concept of fair use can no longer be discussed and legislated in the abstract. It is the very foundation of the digital age and a cornerstone of our economy,” said Ed Black, President and CEO of CCIA. “Much of the unprecedented economic growth of the past ten years can actually be credited to the doctrine of fair use, as the Internet itself depends on the ability to use content in a limited and nonlicensed manner. To stay on the edge of innovation and productivity, we must keep fair use as one of the cornerstones for creativity, innovation and, as today’s study indicates, an engine for growth for our country

The Fair Use exception to U.S. copyright law, as codified in Section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976 states, “The fair use of a copyrighted work … is not an infringement of copyright.” Fair use permits a range of activities that are critical to many high technology businesses such as search engines and software developers. As the study indicates, however, fair use and related exceptions to copyright are crucial to non-technology industries as well, such as insurance, legal services, and newspaper publishers. The dependence of industries outside the high-tech field illustrates the crucial need for balanced copyright law.

While the particular numbers arrived at by the study may be challenged (it is the first attempt to quantify the fair use economy in this way and the CCIA is composed of interested parties), the overall points highlighted above (emphasis added) are extremely compelling.

Given the demonstrated criticality of fair use to the economy and the steady diminishment of fair use, is there any reason to believe the current balance is optimal? Even moreso outside the U.S., where fair dealing and other exceptions to copyright are less liberal than fair use.

This is one place where Creative Commons comes in. CC licenses make it easy to grant permissions beyond the scope of fair use (and without ever restricting fair use), shifting the balance by completely voluntary action. This is not lost on leading companies in the fair use economy. For example, at least five CCIA members have provided support for Creative Commons — Google, Microsoft, Red Hat, Sun, and Yahoo!.

Those are huge, important companies, but a fraction of a $2.2 trillion fair use economy, and that’s not counting the world outside the U.S. Consider joining these leaders — your business, or your job, may depend on it.

Our annual fall fundraising campaign starts next month, so keep the above in mind.

If your company is or should be interested in contributing to our corporate commoner giving program, please contact our development coordinator at melissa@creativecommons.org.

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