Tips for understanding copyright rules

U.S. copyright law includes five exclusive rights, but educators can use copyrighted works under the fair use practice.

With headlines about tough copyright rulings fresh in their minds, educators across the nation might hesitate when it comes to using copyrighted material in their lessons or sharing copyrighted works with students.

But according to the American Library Association (ALA), educators should not worry about using such material to boost student knowledge if it falls under the scope of fair use.

The original and intended purpose of copyright law is to promote learning and the dissemination of knowledge, said Carrie Russell, director of the library association’s Program on Public Access to Information. “The copyright law was just as important to them as the post office,” she said, adding that the founding fathers wanted to ensure that the new democracy was well-functioning and that people had access to valuable information.…Read More

New copyright ruling affects educators

K-12 was unable to prove that high-quality clips are essential to accomplish learning goals.
K-12 was unable to prove that clips are essential to accomplish learning goals. Copyright: opensourceway

A new ruling from the U.S. Copyright Office will affect how higher-education students and teachers can use digital material in the classroom, thanks to the efforts a university professor who says that increasing students’ digital literacy is a responsibility educators can’t afford to brush off.

The change is part of a new interpretation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), a U.S. copyright law that criminalizes production and dissemination of software, devices, or services intended to circumvent the digital rights management (DRM) technology that controls access to copyrighted works. The U.S. Copyright Office, a branch of the Library of Congress that meets to discuss exemptions every three years, oversees management of the DMCA.

Renee Hobbs, professor of communication at Temple University’s School of Communications and Theater, was one of a handful of educators who led a formal petition of the Copyright Office in 2009 to receive an exemption that would allow educators and students to legally “rip” excerpts of copy-protected movie DVDs for comment and criticism in media or film studies classes. “Ripping” is the process of copying audio or video content to a hard disk, typically from removable media.…Read More