Copyright 101

The teacher in first grade was desperate!  She had been trying to reach me since the morning, but I wasn’t available.  She had created a video with photos of her students for a parent presentation happening the next day.  She decided to use Bruno Mars’ popular song “24K Magic” to add a celebratory mood to the video. When she was done, she uploaded the video to YouTube, but couldn’t hear the audio. “What was wrong with my computer”, she said she kept repeating looking for all possible problems with the audio.  When I finally got to her, I realized her problem was due to copyright issues.  She didn’t have the permission to use this song and YouTube just muted the video. Of course, this happened in Ecuador, where the mere concept of intellectual property is just beginning to enter the educational system.

As a tech coach, this situation revealed a great problem.  How can teachers instruct students about Digital Citizenship and intellectual rights and responsibilities if they lack basic knowledge about the subject themselves?  Who’s responsible for making sure teachers experience a mindset shift and expand their concept of literacy to include media literacy?

For my own learning process about this subject, I found the webinar led by Gail Desler, Teaching Copyright and Fair Use to the Remix Generation very helpful. And if your school uses the Common Core Standards, the ELA Speaking and Listening indicators provide the framework from which media literacy must be included in every classroom.

Include multimedia components (e.g., graphics, images, music, sound) and visual displays in presentations to clarify information.

Make strategic use of digital media (e.g., textual, graphical, audio, visual, and interactive elements) in presentations to enhance understanding of findings, reasoning, and evidence and to add interest.

So if students are going to be creating and remixing all sorts of media, we must make sure our students have a sound understanding of how to responsibly use the work of other people.

Here is an example of how we can teach media literacy through the production of a public service announcement. The students in this 4th-grade class in Brooklyn, NY learned to responsibly use copyrighted material.  They used critical thinking skills to choose which images and sounds were most effective to convey their message about global warming.

TMS Fair Use – Media Literacy Through Digital Production from The Media Spot on Vimeo on Vimeo.

I have gathered a few resources that will help me in the process of instructing teachers and students about being ethical about the use of creative works.

    1. TinEye Reverse Image Search locates where a certain image appears on the internet and here you may read how to find the owner of the image, if listed.
    2. The Creative Commons search website provides access to other search services to locate creative common images.
    3. Types of Creative Commons licenses.

      “Share, Remix, Reuse…Legally” by Creative Commons Aotearoa is licensed under  CC BY 3.0 NZ 

    4. Examples of Best Practices for Attribution
    5. The website Can I Use That offers educators resources to teach Copyright, Fair Use, and Creative Commons
    6. Google Advanced Search has a usage rights filter that locates free-to-use images
    7. Copyright and Fair Use Animation video from the Common Sense Media Rework, Reuse, Remix lesson plan, which is part of a more comprehensive K-12 Digital Citizen Program

So it is clear that when we want to grab media from the internet we must:

Check who owns the image

Get permission to use it

Give credit to the creator

Buy it (if necessary)

Use it responsibly

But, what if I want to use a copyrighted work without paying a fee? Then I should be clear about Fair Use and ask:

Am I using the work in education?

Am I criticizing or commenting?

Am I using it in a news report?

Am I using it for comedy or parody?

The golden rule:

We should always give credit when credit is due.

Do you have other resources to teach Copyright and Fair Use as part of your Digital Citizenship program?

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4 Responses

  1. Nick Garvin says:

    Hi Caroline,

    Thanks for sharing your story. What a great teachable moment right there! Yes, it’s true teacher can experience many those moments too. You asked some really great questions in your blog. This one particularly stood out to me. “Who’s responsible for making sure teachers experience a mindset shift and expand their concept of literacy to include media literacy?”
    I believe it’s the teacher’s responsibility to upskill themselves in this area although some might disagree. If schools are lucky enough to have a tech coach or two at their school then they could learn through them. Otherwise, the school’s leadership team or ed tech department could help guide teachers through this process with some online or in-house professional development. Common Sense Media offers a lot of different choices, countless resources.a This would also help schools measure their teacher’s level of knowledge and awareness of the topic. I have recently spoken to a colleague of mine here in Thailand about-about the very same issues you experience within Ecuador. We have decided that we will model proper behavior within our school and sign up for the Common Sense Media Digital Citizenship Recognition program. Our goal, aside from upskilling, is to bring awareness of how easy it can be to access this type of PD and how important it is for all of us to continue to be doing so. *** getting back to your point about mindset***
    Your blog was wonderful to read and I appreciate the great collection of resources you included, especially the videos, the self-reflecting questions and your golden rule t the end of your post. Just wanted to give credit where credit is due. 🙂

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Hi Nick,
      Thank you for reading my blog this week. There were aspects of copyright and fair use that I wasn’t aware of, so I am glad the COETAIL program made sure it was included. I agree with you when you say that teachers should be constantly involved in self-teaching to add new skills to their repertoire of knowledge; however, (as you mentioned) many believe it is the school’s duty. Now, in my experience, a lot can be accomplished when there is an institutional goal where administrators and teachers are on board. In a way, it levels the ground by having the same expectations and the same language to communicate with. Thank you for the resources that you suggested, especially the Common Sense Media Recognition program. I don’t work in Ecuador anymore, but I will suggest this program to teachers and administrators there.

  2. Kehri Magalad says:

    Hi Carolin! Thanks for another great read! Your reflection questions near the end of the blog are useful, and I can see myself referring to it in the future! Many thanks!

    I found another potential resource for understanding basic copyrights and wanted to share it with you

    It’s a five minute video geared for older students/adults…although I’m erring on the side of adults due to the language. It is humorous and provides another way of understanding YouTube copyright basics.

    However, I am still challenged by the idea of using music and/or videos from the web. If I ask myself, “Am I using the work in education?” then I can easily answer yes. But I think the line is where you use the music for a PERFORMANCE. Am I wrong? What are your thoughts?

    Have a great week!

    • Dear Kehri,
      Thanks for the YouTube video suggestion. I can see how the topic may become easier for students to understand if you use it as part of your copyright lessons. I am still learning about copyright issues myself, so I am really not completely sure about the answer to your question, but I would say that if you are not profiting from the performance, you could rely upon Fair Use.
      Have a great week!

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