Ashley Macejka's ISTC 501 Site

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Copyright and Fair Use July 17, 2010

Filed under: ISTC 501 Blog Posts — Ashley M @ 6:26 pm

Based on the articles that I recently read about Copyright and Fair Use Laws, here are a few things I knew and a few things that I did not know.

Things I knew:

-That chapters from books can be copied, but whole books cannot.

-That you can use up to 10% of a work (book, media, music, etc) without it being a copyright infringement.

Things I didn’t know:

-That copyright law and trademark law are not necessarily the same thing.

-That federal government employees cannot copyright work that is part of an official responsibility CANNOT copyright their work, but federal government contractors can.  That seems a bit unfair to me?

The TEACH Act is pretty interesting as well.  To be honest, I have never considered the implications of copyright law in reference to online/distance learning, perhaps because I haven’t had much experience with online/distance learning.  After reading about it more carefully, I think it stands to reason that instructors of online courses should have the same access to materials that instructors in the classroom have.  I am curious about one particular provision,”This last exclusion results from the definition of “mediated instructional activities,” a key concept within the expanded Section 110(2) meant to limit it to the kinds of materials an instructor would actually incorporate into a class-time lecture.”  With such a focus on differentiating traditional instruction, how do they classify what a teacher would or would not incorporate into a lecture?

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4 Responses to “Copyright and Fair Use”

  1. Hey Ashley –

    You’re correct in saying “that copyright law and trademark law are not necessarily the same thing” – in fact, they are not ever the same thing. There are some theories that they share – like fair use, as you recognize – but they truly are different areas of law.

    Careful with the “Things you knew” section about how much you can copy. In some senses you are correct, but in others, you could be very wrong. I wouldn’t go out and copy and sell 10% of Twilight anytime soon!

    That said, there are situations where copying is allowed because of the nature of the use. The law has lots of exceptions – and exceptions to those exceptions. If you’re considering copying something, best to consult a lawyer if you are worried about the consequences.

    This isn’t legal advice – just a heads-up that you should be aware that copyright law isn’t as simple as “10% copying is legal.” Your specific situation – how much you use, what you use it for, the nature of what you use, etc. – will dictate whether the use is fair, and only a lawyer who knows those details can help!

  2. Ashley Hurst Says:

    I agree. I feel that instructors should be able to use the same materials in a distance learning classroom that they would use in a traditional classroom. Assuming that the materials are appropriate to the class, everyone in that class (online or face-to-face) should have access. Sara makes a great point – once the materials are out on the web, they are out there for everyone’s use. Maybe we can solve this problem by creating websites that house the information in a password protected database. Then, only students with the password can access the information, and after the class is over, the information can be removed as to not violate the copyright.

    • Ashley M Says:

      That’s a good idea Ashley. I know that a lot copyrighted things here at Towson are done that way; you need to use your Towson ID/Library card number to access those materials through Towson’s website. I think that school systems should be able to operate their systems in that same way.

  3. Sara Says:

    I also didn’t know that copyright and trademark laws weren’t one in the same. When I read that a slogan was only subject to trademark and not copyright law I was a bit surprised but there is a distinction between the two.

    As for the issue of distance or online teaching and access to materials; I think that it is a very tricky issue. They should have the ability to use films, music, or other materials, but that would require them to digitize the material and in doing so, who knows who could get a hold of that material when it is put online. It is much easier to control who gets to see the material in a face-to-face classroom.


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