This fortnight’s link roundup: ancient music, carnivorous sponges, copyright, evaluating information, and a lot more.
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:
(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:
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.