Sunday, February 22, 2009

Where Is The Line In The Sand?

So one of the sessions that I went to at the Learning 2.0 conference was all about teaching students how to Remix music, video, and audio all together into one big package.  The presenters discussed the copyright laws and the non copyright laws and what students’ options were when dealing with publishing work.  They also mentioned how often the copyright laws change, basically like every week, so how are educators or anyone for that matter supposed to stay with what is current in the law?  Then how do we explain that to our students?  It is all really unclear in my opinion.  The discussion switched from getting copyright is not the only option, students can get a creative commons license to cover them.  This would allow the students to publish their work and still retain the rights to it, but still allow others to use part or the whole of the music, video, or remix to create their own creations.  It sounded like a great idea, but the whole concept still puzzles me. 

If I assign a video project and want my students to pull in video and pictures, most likely many of them are going to go to YouTube or some other video source like that and copy, rip, and cut down the part of the song or video that they want in their video.  Then together with a variety of other clips that they have done the same thing to they will create a Remix – or at least that is my perception of what is going on here.  Although, technically this is still against law because students are copying work, off of YouTube, and using it for their own purposes – even if the clip is shorter than 30 seconds and even if it is for educational purposes.  So where is the line in the sand? 

What can and cannot my students do in the classroom?  Can they take pictures off Google images and put them on their Wikispaces?  If so, then how do they properly cite that?  Is a URL enough information or not?  Why?  What about adding their own purchased music into a video that they are going to post onto YouTube, is that ok?  Well normally I would say maybe, but according to other educators at the conference YouTube now strips all iTunes music off videos (even if the author did correctly purchase the music).  So can I still have the students upload their videos on their own Wikispaces?  How do they share what they have created legally with the world?  What about copying parts of songs or video off YouTube?  Is that ok?  Can my students go on and do that?  What about the part of the person’s video that my students are copying where the content is from a copyrighted source.  Can a student copy someone else’s already copyrighted video?  Is that legal?  What if a student gets a Creative Commons license, and then are they off scot free?  I don’t think so, but where do we draw the line?  Where the line in the sand between what my students is can and cannot do in the classroom, and how do they cite what they borrow? 

So I left the session with a few more questions than answers, but it was good because that means that I am learning.  In addition, it will give me a discussion starter with others that were not at the conference on Monday.  What I realized, though, is that pretty soon there will have to be quite a large shift in how things like video Remixes and copyrighted music purchased legally are used in education and across the other disciplines too.  Is Creative Commons a solution to this problem?  Only time will tell, but I am still left wondering: Where is the line in the sand?