Friday, July 11, 2014

Fair Use and Copyright Resource - Media Education Lab

Timothy Vollmer
I recently read that 90% of the content found on the Internet was created in the last 4 years.  New material - text, images, video, and music - is available to us to access at a rapid rate.  Ways to use it, repurpose it, and share it are growing too.  New multimedia tools and social media networks are sprouting up on a regular basis. Even our old friends, like Facebook and Twitter, are coming up with new ways to add to the proliferation of information we see each day.

Add to that what educators regard as a confusing Fair Use policy, and teachers are at times leery to jump into the pool of Web 2.0 creative opportunities for their students.  Unfortunate, but necessary, as those who create work need to be protected from unscrupulous use of their creations.

True, Fair Use is purposely contextual in application.  While many see this as confusing, the more one studies it, the more that makes sense.  Nothing we use either inside or out of a classroom has identical purposes or applications. It comes down to asking the question, “Am I using the creative work of others to somehow financially or personally benefit?”  If the answer is yes, copyright infringement might be in play.  

Being we are in education (therefore, fall under Fair Use provisions) we have our own “magic checklist” to consider. Have we and our students: checked who owns it, received permission to use it, given credit to the creator, bought it (if necessary), and used it responsibly.  Are we as teachers modeling these practices for our students?  Are we requiring students to abide by them every time?

I have discovered a very complete resource to help teachers navigate through the murky waters of copyright and Fair Use.  The Media Education Lab at the University of Rhode Island has created a complete site of videos, slideshows, and other information specifically designed for teachers.  Take a few minutes to see what is available and consider referring to it when questions arise.
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