Copyright Video Resources

In a recent link round up, one of my friends pointed out the bias (and problematic permissions) of a copyright video I’d linked to. Since she had an excellent point, I wanted to do some digging for some other alternatives.

My requirements for this list:

  • A video or other presentation (narrated slides, a game, for example)
  • From an well-known source (established organization, school, etc.)
  • Who can reasonably be assumed to have appropriate expertise in the field
  • That is reasonably brief (5-8 minutes) suitable for a quick introduction/presentation (I included a few longer examples, but nothing over 20 minutes).
  • And makes some attempt (that works) to be amusing and interesting, given the subject matter.
  • Generally suitable for older teens and college students (the kind of thing you could show or have students watch before talking about the topic in class.)
  • Focused on general copyright awareness and fair use within an educational context (rather than say, ‘stop internet piracy’ focused on entertainment, though I’ve included a few resources along those lines.)

(Points two and three are basically “Does the person/organization making this actually know what they’re talking about, and how do I know that?” as opposed to Random Person opining, possibly inaccurately.)

I should note here that I have a very complex set of feelings about copyright as a concept: you can see more about that in one of my posts. I consider myself reasonably well informed about copyright issues. But I’m not a lawyer, and like I said, I have complex feelings about the whole topic. My goal here is to collect a broader range of resources that may help educators and librarians (including me!) meet a particular focus and need, and to continue adding as makes sense. I’m sure there’s great stuff I’ve missed (please feel free to share other resources – you can comment or use the contact form at the top.)

One accessibility note: one reason I’m reticent about using video is that I really wish more of them were captioned. It’s not only more accessible to those with hearing impairment, but also to people who process text more easily than audio or who have trouble isolating sounds. In this case, though, I wanted to look at video options in particular.

Short version: There’s really a space out there for a good 10-15 minute video addressing copyright in academic settings that offered a balanced look between holding rights and a culture of sharing and learning from a variety of resources. None of the videos I’ve found below are really amazing at that – though a number are good at pieces of it, or would be of use for specific more nuanced discussions.

Websites and general resources:

(This is not meant to be an exhaustive list of text resources – instead, it’s places that came up in the search for videos that had additional information of interest and value. I suspect I’ll keep adding.)

From organizations focused on sharing information and resources as freely as possible:

  • The Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Teaching Copyright site which has a curriculum for teaching, as they say “laws around digital rights in a balanced way”. Extensive resources page.
  • The Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard has a curriculum on Copyright For Librarians that can be done as a self-study course. (I have not worked through this yet, but plan to.)
  • QuestionCopyright.org describes itself as “A clearinghouse for new ideas about copyright”. They have a blog with various bits of intriguing content and comment.
  • Creative Commons has a variety of resources about their approach to permission to reuse material. You can find videos that talk about their approach on their site as well.
  • The Know Your Copy Rights organization is focused on education around academic use of copyrighted materials, and includes ideas for improving conversation and use across an academic campus.
  • You probably already know about the Stanford Copyright and Fair Use Center (they’ve been around for ages, doing great things), but they always have something new and useful when I look.

From organizations who focus on protecting the rights of copyright holders:

General copyright explanations:

When Copyright Goes Bad is a 15 minute documentary film that looks at the issues around copyright. It’s by Cato Clough and Luke Upchurch, and includes appearances from several major figures in copyright conversation. The beginning is a bit heavy-handed, but it becomes less (and more directly informative) after the intro. In particular, it has an interesting look at language around the issue, and on the ways that current copyright law limits creative interaction and new directions, making it a good seed for classroom/educational discussions. There’s some discussion on Boing Boing that raises criticisms and additional comments about the film.

Bound By Law: ok, not a video, this one is a comic book from the Duke Center for the Study of the Public Domain. This focuses on documentary film use, but covers a lot of basics along the way, with a particular look at the complexities of using copyrighted material that shows up in the background of other work. Free PDF download in various formats, print copy available for order. 68 pages of comic, 10 pages of additional material including resources.

Wanna Work Together? is a video from Creative Commons explaining the basics of copyright and what Creative Commons is meant to do. Three and a half minutes, animated.

Copyright, what’s Copyright? A video from the MediaEd Lab at Temple University: this is an animated song that introduces basic copyright concepts, and focuses on the need for balance between the rights of creators and the rights of users. About three and a half minutes.

The Copyright Alliance videos are focused on the rights of creators, and is very pro-copyright law, but several videos here offer some interesting short explanations and approaches. “Copyright in the Classroom” (12.5 minutes) is aimed at teachers, and has a strong focus on copyright as right and wrong (a moral issue). The “Introduction to Fair Use” discourages fair use in a number of circumstances (but is a relatively clear explanation of the basic concepts): it’s about four minutes.

Copyright.com videos: The original videos that got me looking for other options – these are very focused on the rights of copyright owners, and on business uses. (Note that they’ve got some unusual terms of use: also, I’m getting errors on a couple of the videos right now.)

Fair use explanations:

A Fair(ly) Use Tale: created by Professor Eric Fadden of Bucknell University, this 10 minute film takes (very short) snippets of Disney films to explain the basics of copyright. Links to varying forms (including a downloadable version) via the Teaching Copyright site. (The video also explains “Why Disney”). Some additional discussion from Wired. While I like the premise of this as a talking point, and I think the visuals do make an interesting point, the amount of actual content conveyed is less than many of the other videos linked here.

Explaining copyright and Fair Use: Maggie Lange, an attorney and Professor of Music Business/Management at Berklee College of Music explains copyright terms and fair use. Interview of her talking on film, but with good clear lighting and sound. She’s particularly interesting on the topic of the power imbalance early in an artist’s career and the idea of having creative works available in society. About six minutes long.

The Media Education Lab at Temple University has a variety of resources, including some intro videos, some case study videos, and more focused on fair use in Media Literacy education.

Lawrence Lessig re-examines the re-mix: An 18 minute TEDTalk from Harvard professor and copyright expert talks about what, as the description says “Democrats can learn about copyright from their opposite party, considered more conservative. A surprising lens on remix culture” – basically, it talks about remixing as a conversation and mediation between commercial culture and social culture and how to make that work better. (Also, this has a great intro about truth and online material.) As with other TEDTalks, there’s an interactive transcript in multiple languages.

More specific topics:

The Center for Social Media at American University has a collection of videos on specific issues (documentary and film use, mostly) that may be of interest. (I haven’t watched these, as they’re both longer and tangential to my focus right now.)

How YouTube Thinks About Copyright: A really fascinating and short (just under 6 minutes) TEDTalk from Margaret Gould Stewart about how YouTube checks for copyright – and why it’s often to a rights holder’s benefit to allow an upload. Includes an interactive transcript in a variety of languages. (See Larry Lessig’s talk, above, for why it doesn’t always work that smoothly.)

YouTube has also created an animated (and captioned) video talking about copyright and remixing (coming down fairly heavily on the side of content creators, rather than remixers.)

Rocketboom discusses how to contest a YouTube takedown by walking through the process and explaining a bit about how fair use may be a defense for various kinds of remixed video projects.

Lessons from Fashion Free Culture : Johanna Blakley’s TEDTalk (about 15 minutes) talks about how fashion is not like other copyright conversations, and what lessons we might learn from that. (I hadn’t known that there were very few intellectual property protections in the fashion industry – basically, there are trademarks, but not copyright.)

Hi, I’m Jen

Librarian, infovore, and general geek, likely to write comments about books, link collections, and other thoughts related to how we find, use, and take joy in information.

I'm the Information Technology Librarian at the University of Maine at Farmington, the small liberal arts college model campus in the University of Maine system.

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