Copyright Law

"Copyright Symbol" by Mike Seyfang
“Copyright Symbol” by Mike Seyfang

Until this assignment and this class, I did not think about copyright or copyright law too much. As Lawrence Lessing pointed out, remixing is a part of our generation. I see people use pictures that do not belong to them to make memes or photoshop, individuals remix songs and put them on youtube, people take clips from movies and put them together, and so much more. Lessing called this the “age of prohibitions”, where average citizens are living life against the law dealing with copyright. This generation is creative and digitally endowed, and those combined create a disaster for copyright law. There is an infinite amount of copyrighted content on the internet, coupled with an infinite amount of tools to remix that content.

To be completely honest, I was not aware of much copyright law. I am guilty of not paying too much attention to who owns what. One aspect of the law that I was familiar with, because I utilize it, is public domain. If a work was created before 1923, it is free to use and download online. I have downloaded books before (for example, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen), without having to pay a thing.

"Pride and Prejudice Barnes and Noble Leather Bound Classics" by Thalita Carvalho
“Pride and Prejudice Barnes and Noble Leather Bound Classics” by Thalita Carvalho

The Education World article explained copyright in an excellent way that makes sense to me: “

According to the law, copyrightable work must be tangible…Copyrightable work must also be creative. Facts are not copyrightable — although a clever collection of facts might be. Ideas are not copyrightable — although a particular expression of an idea probably is.”

After reading these articles, watching the video, and trying to navigate through the copyright law, I realize that there is much that I do not know and much that surprised me. I did not know that there are special laws for educators that are different (i.e. copying a single book chapter for distribution). I now realize that it makes total sense to not be allowed to show a non educational movie to the class, or to print out well known characters from the internet to display, because it is copyright infringement. I did not know that even anonymous works are protected. Several sources pointed out that when in doubt, it is better to ask for or give permission even if we are not sure that we need it, and as a future educator I will error on the side of safe rather than sorry.

"The Battle of Copyright 2011" by Christopher Dombres
“The Battle of Copyright 2011” by Christopher Dombres

In the future, I see copyright laws reformed. Lessing seemed in fact offended by current copyright law, that it, “is not common sense….(we) can’t kill the instinct that technology produces, we can only criminalize it. We can’t stop our kids from using it.” He brings up an excellent point. It would make the most sense to change laws to match technology, which is more advanced than ever, to make sure that people can be creative and free. In regards to education, I think that this will be a great thing. Giving students more freedom to create online and using technology without penalization for infringing copyrights would be ideal. It is a hard line to define however, which is why copyright law is so extensive and specific. However, it comes down to a simple concept to look at-are you using someone else’s work to create something different, to expand on it, to inspire others, all while the original artist has credit, or are you using someone else’s work to gain a monetary profit? I think that education pushes to the former, which is why the future of copyright is facing a change.

"Increase in Overall Search of Infringed Content" by Viance Locke
“Increase in Overall Search of Infringed Content” by Viance Locke
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