Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Copyright -- Fair Use vs. Creative Commons

At last week's PowerRanger meeting we reviewed "copyright." In the USA, original work (also referred to as intellectual property) created since March 1, 1989 is assumed to be copyrighted, whether or not it has a notice attached.

Copyright infringement can occur by using or reproducing someone's creative work without their permission. However, section 107 of copyright law provides guidelines for the "fair use" of intellectual property "for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching… or research." Teachers and students need to be aware of these guidelines, and of the "four factors" used to determine the "educational" fair use of intellectual property.

We discussed two scenarios and debated whether or not the teacher or student in our "examples" was in violation of copyright infringement. My disclaimer in these discussions continues to be that, "I am not an attorney." I can only share my understanding of copyright infringement, and let you know that lawsuits are determined on a case-by-case basis.

I also shared information about the "Creative Commons," a nonprofit organization founded in 2001 to help "people dedicate their creative works to the public domain -- or retain their copyright while licensing them as free for certain uses, on certain conditions.... Creative Commons' first project, in December 2002, was the release of a set of copyright licenses free for public use... this will enable people to ... find, for example, photographs that are free to use provided that the original photographer is credited, or songs that may be copied, distributed, or sampled with no restrictions whatsoever."

This organization is gaining momentum, as you will notice the "Creative Commons" badge displayed on a number of websites, including this blog. Students and teachers also have the ability to search the internet using Google and Yahoo, to locate digital resources tagged with a Creative Commons license. What a great way to promote responsible "digital" citizens!
For more information, visit the http://creativecommons.org website, or the creativecommons.org search page at: http://creativecommons.org/find/

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