Friday, February 6, 2009

Do Bloggers Care About Copyright Laws?

Reading all these blogs with pictures and videos has left me wondering. What about copyright laws? In my school district, our media specialists are vigilant about having students follow the law. Students can only use 10% of a song. They are taught to ask permission to use others’ work of any kind. There is not much flexibility when determining what falls under the fair use umbrella. Surely a YouTube video is not supposed to be used in a school project without the creator’s permission (no problem; the site is blocked anyway). Is it ok to post a picture (as I've done here) taken using the Grab utility?

A teacher recently asked the librarian to download a song on her 20 computers so she could have the students complete a project. Not possible. Only one computer could use it. I’m left wondering how this impacts student learning. It makes no sense really. It’s not even as if she was going to post the projects on the Internet. I have been told that I should not use a song that I purchased on iTunes for a PowerPoint presentation for a Back-to-School Night slide show. Oh, please.

Now I must confess. I might have broken the law with a project I introduced to my students. I paid iTunes $.99 for Shut Up and Let Me Go by the Ting Tings (a YouTube video; not sure how to include it in a blog; I'm guessing maybe it's copyrighted!). A couple of my students created this music video for their Intro to iMovie project. Our technology director says that if you use a song purchased from Apple’s iTunes for a project using an Apple application (i.e., iMovie), then it meets the copyright guidelines. It sure makes sense to me; I’m going to side with him on this one. But of course by posting this video on this blog might be what makes it illegal. I sure hope not. BTW…I do have the girls’ permission.

So, I’m curious…is there a different standard for information found in blogs? I doubt it, but I have a sense that bloggers don’t care really. They’re all about sharing.

1 comment:

  1. Great question and the answer is NO....blogs are held to copyright standards like every other media. In a digital world there there are a couple of things its good to know about.

    You know those user agreements that everyone just "accepts" without reading....well many of them say that if you use this site to upload any videos/pictures/music then you give others on the internet the right to use it free of charge.

    YouTube: You can take, embed, remix, etc any video on YouTube. It is illegal to download them unless the owner gives permission, but that doesn't stop people from using to download videos.

    Flickr: The largest photo site on the web allows people who upload pictures to choose what others can do with them. I allow people to do what ever they want...others don't allow you to do anything. You have to learn to read the copyrights for any individual piece of work.

    It's good to spend some time at the licensing most commonly used on the Internet. As a technology teacher do you know about this? How are you teaching students what they can and cannot use?

    I never allow students to search for pictures via easy as it is, you do not know the copyright on any of those pictures. But if you do your research you can steer studnet towards about 5 great high quality sites that have pictures they can use for free.

    The power of a link: What the Web allows is rather then have a reference page we link to people we talk about, people we quote. Links are the references of the web. You should link to anyone or anything you can. Read some professional blogs like or and you'll see they link everywhere give copyright for everything they use, etc.

    The real problem I think is that educators were never good about following copyright in the first place...we always told ourselves that it was OK to use for education...and 99% of the time we could get away with it because nobody would ever know we copied pages, or took this or that. But the web is public and you better understand copyright if you are going to be putting stuff out there.

    Am I perfect? No...we call continue to learn. I was hit the other day by someone asking me to take down a piece of information that I did not have the right to post. But we learn and move on.

    Before we can expect students to understand these rules educators need to....and do they? If not how do we get the message out?