Lately, we’ve been hearing more and more about digital copyrights and fair use in the news and online – particularly with the whole SOPA/PIPA uproar that recently swept the web.
Also, we on the Edublogs support team have been getting more and more complaints and official requests to remove copyrighted content that users have placed on blogs.
The legal jargon with respect to digital copyrights can be confusing – especially since different countries have their own laws and regulations.
With this post, we hope to dispel a few myths and pull together a complete list of resources for teachers and students to use when blogging and working with content online.
Rule #1: You Can’t Use Everything You Find On the Web
Dexter the cat hates those that steal his photos...
This may seem obvious, but judging by the notices we have received, many teachers (and especially students) are under the impression that if it is on the web, then it is up for grabs.
If you and your students keep rule #1 in mind, then everything else should be fine.
Rule #2: There Are Resources You CAN Use
One of the myths out there is that you can’t use any image, video, or content from another website on your blog.
That simply isn’t true, and we’ll cover our favorite sources of “fair use” and “public domain” sources at the end of this post.
It is troubling that while copyright is important to protect the hard work of others, it can also stifle creativity and hamper educational goals. Though SOPA is effectively dead at the moment, there is a legitimate need for newer laws that are built around the open and free-sharing nature of the web. Understanding Fair Use
You might be aware that as educators, we have a few more flexible rules, called “Fair Use”, to play by.
That is, in some cases, if an image, text, video, etc. is being used for educational purposes, there might be more flexible copyright rules.
For example, a video that was purchased in a store can usually be shown in a classroom when the video is tied to the curriculum being taught. Otherwise, showing a class full of students a video would be considered a “public performance” and would be against the law.
The trouble is, most of the laws and rules that cover fair use and education were written well before the invention of the web.
While a textbook or curricula resource might allow for photocopying for classroom use, it most likely isn’t going to allow you to make a PDF of the document and put it on your class blog or website for students to print themselves.
The end result would be the same, right? A student would have a printed copy.
But make sure to check specific copyright restrictions before uploading anything you’ve scanned to the web!