New copyright ruling affects educators

Hobbs said the screen capture tools used by many K-12 schools, such as Jing or Camtasia, don’t require bypassing a DVD’s encryption code. That encryption code is known as the Content Scramble System, or CSS, and is employed on almost all commercially available DVDs in order to protect DRM.

“The Copyright Office wanted to limit the exemption only to those groups who could prove a reasonable harm, and who could demonstrate that bypassing CSS encryption is the only way to accomplish fair-use purposes,” she said, adding: “The Copyright Office has acknowledged that screen capture is a legal resource for K-12 classrooms and non-film/media students, and truthfully, that may be all that’s really necessary for many student projects. But when student work is submitted to film festivals or designed to be viewed on the big screen, then high-quality images are essential.”

Hobbs said she and her colleagues will continue to fight for education’s digital media rights at the Copyright Office’s next hearing in 2012.

In preparation for the hearing, Hobbs and her colleagues will invite K-12 educators to help demonstrate the need to bypass CSS for educational purposes.

“We want to be able to assemble a list of ‘projects not undertaken’ due to the current ruling. We especially want examples of where students need to be able to bypass CSS or where screen capture is not adequate for a particular project. We also want to be able to prove that image quality makes a difference, especially in classrooms where controlling light … makes for image display problems,” she said.

Educators who have examples to share should eMail Hobbs at

Hobbs, who has spent more than 20 years advocating for media literacy education, is a prolific author and recently published Copyright Clarity: How Fair Use Supports Digital Learning.

The book outlines three key perspectives on the future of copyright in relation to the needs of students and teachers and explains how the future of education will be at risk if educators don’t fully understand their rights under the law.

“Educators need to understand the strengths and limitations of each of these arguments because we are creators of intellectual property ourselves,” she said. “Educators often ‘sign away’ their intellectual property rights to employers or publishers simply because of ignorance. We may also violate copyright without awareness or communicate misinformation to our students. Our ignorance is limiting our ability to use the power of digital media to create transformative learning experiences with our students.”

Hobbs and her colleagues are holding a day-long workshop at Temple University Center City Campus, called “Copyright Clarity” on Aug. 19 that is designed as a train-the-trainers program.

The program fee is $99, which includes lunch and a copy of Hobbs’ book. Educators can register for the program online at:

“Our culture is in a time where the concept of authorship and ownership are in transformation,” Hobbs said, “and K-12 educational leaders need to participate as advocates in ensuring that the law continues to support the essential and timeless values of education.”


Temple University School of Communications and Theater

Digital Millennium Copyright Act

Renee Hobbs:

Note to readers:

Don’t forget to visit the Communication and Collaboration for More Effective School Management resource center. The ability to work together on group projects is seen as an increasingly important skill for the 21st-century workplace, and a growing number of schools are rewriting their curriculum to include opportunities for students to communicate and collaborate as a result.
Go to:

Communication and Collaboration for More Effective School Management

Meris Stansbury

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