Thursday, May 1, 2008

Copyright and Fair Use

Wow, copyright and fair use is incredibly confusing, especially in the world of education. As teachers, we need to be very careful that we understand copyright and fair use. After reading all four copyright articles, "Copyright and Fair Use Guidelines," "A Visit to Copyright Bay," "Stanford University Libraries: Copyright and Fair Use," and "Keeping it Legal," I still got a few answers wrong when I took the copyright quiz. So, after going back and rereading each article, I think I have a better understanding of copy right and fair use. As educators, it is so important that we understand these laws since we are in such a digital age, and have access to books, music, films and pictures at our fingertips.

First, the "Copyright and Fair Use Guidelines," was fairly straightforward and easy to navigate. There is a clear definition of copyright, which states that, "A copyright is a property right attached to an original work of art or literature." This protects an author, or creator from having people copy his original material. It also mentions that copyright does not protect thoughts or ideas. The article discusses that copyright covers seven broad categories which includes:
literary works, musical works, dramatic works, pantomimed and choreographed works, pictoral, graphics, and sculptural works, motion pictures, and finally, sound recordings.

However, copyrighted materials may be used if its within the public domain, someone has been given permission to use the work, there's a legal exception, or fair use. Fair use is particularly important to educators. It lets teachers and students know when they can use copyrighted material. Educators must consider the purpose of use, the nature of the work, the proportion of the material used, and its effect on marketability. The article points out that because we are now in a digitized age, educators must be very careful with copyright issues. The article encourages teachers to think about ethics when making decisions. The article gives teachers three questions to think about regarding fair use. They include: 1) Will the expression by the author be used? 2) Is the expression protected by copyright laws? 3) Will the use go beyond fair use. These guidelines are very helpful for educators to think about. Finally, one of the most helpful parts of this article is the fair use chart for teachers.

I found the article titled, "A Visit to Copyright Bay," far more difficult to navigate than the above article. I did like the breakdown of exactly what Fair Use is all about. For example, when examining purpose and character, one should ask themselves, is the work intended to be used in an educational setting? When looking at nature of work, the article asks you to think about whether or not the work was created for the use of criticism, comment or educational purposes.

When it comes to fair use and multimedia, things become rather tricky. The web says that many times it comes down to a teacher going through the fair use questions, but if they make the wrong choice, they may end up in court. It does state that as a rule of thumb, students and teachers may include some multimedia in a display, performance, or lecture. There are certain time limits and size requirements that go with using copyrighted material.

This article was helpful, but I found the text format much more helpful than the graphic link.

The Stanford website was helpful, but also had some of the same information as the above two sites. One thing that I liked about this site was that it goes into detail about getting permission to use copyrighted information.

Finally, I enjoyed the last website because it gave specific examples, and talked about whether or not fair use applied. This was very helpful.

Copyright and fair use is a difficult topic. When in doubt, teachers should check these websites, and ask appropriate questions to figure out fair use.

No comments: