Copyright This!

Since the very first month of teaching my graduate media course at Full Sail University my students have struggled with the vagueness and conflicting messages surrounding the topics of copyright and fair use. Tasking educators, many of whom are very new to online anything, to creating an unending number of audio podcasts, videos, blog entries and assorted media projects and then telling them that they cannot use any images, music or videos that they might find on the Internet is like inviting them to a party and then telling them that they are not permitted to having any fun. it’s downright confusing. Then for me to try to be authoritative on what is permitted and not permitted, while knowing that the subjects of copyright and fair use are life-work of an army of lawyers and policy makers, makes the whole thing downright silly.

So after one of our class sessions, one of my more media savvy students made the following comment in his blog:

Copyright is such a touchy subject, it’s getting crazier and crazier, even for students, to try to use resources. It seems like it’s going to get to a point where you have to have a law degree just to understand when and where you can use an image or reference someone else’s works. One solution is to always create your own work and I’m going to try to do that more often, so that I really don’t have to rely on others. But it [the session] really showed us that there are quite a difference of nuances that we really need to be aware of and really pay attention to, especially in our work now (Quinto M.)

I’ve had a number of students who are band, drama or media teachers who have to pay rather large fees out of increasingly non-existent budgets so that they can do their job and teach the next generation of musicians and artists their craft. The more I thought about it and Quinto’s comment about not relying on others the more I got pissed off that this whole copyright thing is backwards. I added the following comment to Quinto’s blog:

This is one of those subjects that one can go on and on and on about. The more that I think about it the more that I’m convinced that there needs to be a special “educational” license to use media because the first step that any artist makes, going back all the way probably to the cave paintings in Lascaux, is to carefully copy the techniques and works of the masters. Every artist owes their livelihood, if they are fortunate enough to make a livelihood to some teacher who taught them their craft. How dare the artists demand payment from the teachers! There would be no artist collecting a fee if it weren’t for the teacher who taught him in the first place!

clipart: Task Force Clip Art (c) 1995
image: Quinto Martin 2009