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School of Rock

Glenn Otis Brown, April 13th, 2004

Today I had one of the best experiences of my time at Creative Commons, which is saying a lot. I had the pleasure of visiting the Chandler School in Pasadena, CA, USA, to talk about copyright and Creative Commons. Some 200 sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-graders and I talked about the ins and outs and dos and don’ts of file-sharing, mash-ups, and music copyrights generally.

Glenn at Chandler School

The students’ questions were amazingly insightful and smart, and many of them went straight to some of the most complex and interesting issues in copyright law. I knew when I was setting up my computer and a seventh-grader asked me if Creative Commons “does royalty-free music” that this would be a sophisticated crowd. Here’s a taste of some other comments and questions:

When the Dixie Chicks did that song by Fleetwood Mac, is that considered a remix? Did they have to pay for that?

What about Weird Al Yankovic?

What about those people on American Idol? Do they pay to sing those songs?

So if a copyright lasts for my life and then another 70 years, does that mean if I live a really long time, the copyright is longer?

What if the person who wrote the song has kids, and they want the copyright to last longer?

What about a company? What happens when it dies?

Does a copyright last that long even if the work isn’t that famous?

If I buy a CD, can I remix the songs on it?

At the end of the session I showed them Justin Cone’s contest-winning Building on the Past, to give them an idea what could be made and accomplished without having to pay anyone or worry their parents over possible legal woes. (Yes, such is our world that kids online now have to look out for their parents‘ interests.) The students gave it a rousing round of applause; there were a few audible “wows,” and a couple of students asked when the next contest might happen.

I left the visit inspired to see Laura‘s and Neeru‘s ideas about Creative Commons and education come to life in a big way. (More on that soon.) In the meantime, I hope that the visit isn’t CC’s last to Chandler — and that it’s our first to a number of schools across the world.

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