- I got to see my very first real aurora last month (living in the rural north has benefits!) It was not nearly as flashy as the following link, but it was still stunningly amazing. It does mean I’ve been clicking on aurora pictures even more than usual, though, and I particularly liked this post from Phil Plait over at Bad Astronomy with a time lapse movie made from aurora still shots in Norway by Nicholas Buer. Click(and as Phil says, full-screen) if you need 2.5 minutes of beauty in your day.
- Also, the 21 best astronomy images of 2012.
- (And the one a friend sent me on Wednesday, a gorgeous image of Saturn. And the Milky Way and a lighthouse. Look, I like pictures of stars and planets and stuff, okay?)
- If you are looking for something to read, the MeFi wiki index of questions about books is extremely comprehensive.
- The power of the books you read at 12.
- I’m not sure if this goes in books or culture, but how do you deal with fantasy agricultures (specifically, how do you grow wine in a country with seasons as messed up as Westeros?)
- Why we need comfort reading.
- Curious George’s great escape. (I half knew some of this, but it’s an amazing story.)
Copyright, so complicated:
Community and culture:
- AskAManager had a recent conversation about class – what things you need to know to work in a white-collar environment that may not be obvious if you’re not familiar with that kind of setting. It’s a sort of imperfect discussion, because the topic is So Big, but as someone who works with people from a variety of backgrounds, I think it’s a good start.
- Ann Patchett on independent bookstores. Specifically, starting one.
- I keep chewing over Anil Dash’s “The Web We Lost” in the way that makes me think there will be more writing from me about it eventually.
- Vienna Teng’s draft of the hymn of axciom – fascinating both for the content, and for the fact that technology makes this kind of sharing possible.
- TEDx and Bad Science: there’s a fascinating article from the TED folks about how to vet for bad science in TEDx talks – interesting both for the specifics, and for the general “how do we talk about evaluating stuff”. Bad Astronomy talks about it a bit more, too.
- 250 year old codes. Society of the Golden Poodle. Secret societies. What more do you want out of a story?
- Also in the history department: a Ponzi scheme for flappers.
- The Lying Disease: truth, lies, and the Internet.
- How Pompeii perished (and the misassumptions about the nature of geology that pervade our ideas about it.)
- The history and implications of the Zapruder film.
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.
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.)
I’m currently working, in another tab on my browser, on a resource page of videos about copyright. As part of that, I realised there’s a bit of personal background I wanted to talk about, but that doesn’t fit the goal of that page. So, here it is.
My contradictory background:
I spend a lot of my personal life in several communities where resources and wonderful stuff are widely shared (generally with an ethic of respecting the creator’s preferences) while recognising that current copyright law has some pretty serious flaws. And of course, my professional life is in a world where use of copyrighted work in an educational context is terribly confusing and often contradictory, even though some kinds of use clearly improve learning, understanding, and connection with amazing resources and creators. The current methods for using a work while respecting the effort of the creator are confusing, complicated, and often too expensive (both in time/energy and in things like licensing fees) for individual teachers or smaller schools to negotiate well, even with the best of intentions.
I’m also the child of a father whose published and unique creative work created a meaningful financial benefit for his family (though it was never his primary income). As an adult, I have created a variety of material, some of which I share freely, some of which has more restrictions for various reasons. I have friends and acquaintances who spend time creating creative work for many and various reasons, but who need to sometimes use the law to protect their livelihood, or use of their material in ways that can be anywhere from confusing to utterly misleading or even risky (for example, I have friends who’ve had instructional materials copied without the relevant safety or background information.)
I recognise that copyright does help with the creation of works of larger scope and time, as well as giving creators some legal options if their work (and time, and effort) are abused. (And I have some book-length projects I’d like to tackle where committing that kind of time and energy is only sensible for me if I have some control over the finished product’s distribution.)
And I’ve handled DMCA removal requests in multiple settings over the years. I think the DMCA is an even more flawed law than copyright in general, because the practicalities of the law make certain kinds of legal responses anywhere from effectively impossible to very expensive – something most individuals can’t address. I’ve also seen it used as a club to shut down responses to discussion, to make life difficult for someone on the wrong side of an online argument, and much more in that vein. And yet, it’s currently the only real tool for handling online situations where one person copies another person’s work without permission.
What I’d like:
I’d like a world with reasonably consistent copyright terms, limited to a length of time that allows the immediate personal heirs to benefit (20 or 25 years, perhaps, rather than the current complex system of 50 or 75 years from various dates.) Enough time that the infant child of an individual creator could reasonably have their needs as they grow supported by sales of the work. Not so much time that they are relying on it rather than making their own way in the world.
(I have friends who disagree with me on this one, and think copyright should end at death. I’ve known enough people – including my father – who were working on various projects while dying of terminal illnesses that I think something that protects rights for a period of time after death is only sensible. Otherwise, these people will be more likely to go do something else like spend all their remaining time with their family, and everyone else loses out on their take on that project.)
I’d like a world where corporate copyrights were handled more sensibly. I want companies who do great research, and create wonderful works of art, and do other nifty things, to be rewarded. That’s only sensible. But I think that copyright law should also recognise that they have a certain benefit of scale that individual creators do not have the same access to.
I’d like a world where tracking down the copyright holder was a pretty simple thing to do – a central registry that could be accessed in a relatively trivial manner. (The technology’s there for it now: we just don’t have the collected data stored in a way that makes those connections easy.) Such a registry would also make it easier for people who, for example, were fine with non-profit uses to give quick permission.
And I definitely want a system where handling misuse of someone’s material online were much improved – in terms of the creator identifying their own work, in terms of having misused material removed quickly and easily, and in terms of handling malicious and incorrect complaints well. Again, the technology is there: I would cheerfully pay a yearly fee to dump my blog posts and other submitted materials into a third-party registry that date and time stamps them, so that any future complaint could be compared against that registered material, if it meant I knew I could handle any material used without permission quickly and easily.
I’m a realist: I don’t think I’m going to get any of these things, any time soon. But one can hope – and more importantly, one can take steps towards all of these things over time.
One of the huge issues this week was the ongoing conversation (and sometimes argument) about eBooks and libraries. As you may know, OverDrive (the primary seller of eBook services to libraries) sent out a letter late last week with some concerning news: namely, that Harper Collins wanted to significantly change its ebook terms, so that once you ‘buy’ an ebook to be distributed via Overdrive, it could only circulate 26 times, and then no more. (And in addition, that it would remain checked out for the full length of the loan term, even if the reader ‘returned’ it, and could not be read by multiple readers at once – in other words, not taking advantage of the digital nature of the product.)
Lots of people have great posts on this.
All have some additional good points in the comments.
I’ve seen some people ask where the 26 number comes from. I seem to recall from my library school days that that’s the average number of circulations a hardcover book gets before it needs to be retired for practical reasons (the binding’s falling apart, pages are missing, it suffers an unfortunate mishap, etc.) However, as anyone with basic statistics knowledge can figure out, a lot of books circulate a lot less than that (and therefore do interesting things to the average), and therefore some books also circulate many more times than that, without problems. Picking it as the number for an ebook circulation is therefore even more problematic than it first appears.
Brian at Swiss Army Librarian notes that the Copyright Clearance Center has released a new video called “Copyright on Campus”. He also links to several past videos they’ve done. These are a great resource, and about as fun as anything about copyright is probably going to manage to get. (Note: there’s stuff they don’t address, but there’s only so much you can do in 5 minute videos.)
Other interesting notes:
Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me (my favorite new quiz show) has a fascinating post on their blog on why they spell “Gadhafi” that way (as opposed to the 36 other variations out there – the challenge of translating from one alphabet and language into others.) The answer goes back to a letter from Minnesota school children back in 1986.
Doug Johnson has a great post about ways to make research assignments more interesting to students that are very much along my own preferences in this area for two reasons: first, boredom does not lead to great learning, and secondly, learning how to research and evaluate topics you’re interested in has much broader lifelong learning implications than learning how to do academic papers.
(It’s not that academic papers are a bad skill – I still think we ought to teach it, and ask students to do it on an ongoing basis. But that shouldn’t be the only kind of research we teach. Realistically, how often do you do that kind of academic-paper research once you graduate, unless you become an academic? Compared to how often you’re going to get interested in a subject and want to learn more for your own pleasure, or do research to improve your health, or because you’re travelling somewhere, or whatever else?)
Doug also has a post about whether we’re communicating in places where people are listening – something I want to take on here in the near future. (I’m a big believer in the idea that different kinds of technology do different things well, and we should pick the ones that work.)
Dear Author, one of the major romance genre blogs, takes on the question of “When does a reader know too much?” – in other words, how is the reading experience affected by having seen an author interact online, whether that’s a problematic way, an overly personal way, or even a very positive way?
And finally, Cassandra, writing on the DailyKos (not a place you normally expect to see this) has a lovely ode to the role of the public library in her rural Appalachian community, and why the internet access the library supplies is so critical in particular.