This topic was quite interesting to me because I spend a lot of time dealing with issues surrounding copyright. I even wrote a blog post on the subject a few months ago, to help those looking for images to use for their blogs . Unfortunately I couldn’t make the class but was able to contribute to the conversation on the course Ning.
I was glad the Ning was available so I could read the perspectives of others on this particular subject as I get so many questions from my students regarding copyright. I can’t answer all of them because I don’t think the law even covers some of the questions I get. For example – is it a problem if a person plays a few notes (not singing lyrics) from a known song and posts that on YouTube? Well, I don’t know. One might consider that falls under fair dealing but there are cases of companies and artists going after people who have used even seconds of songs as in this extreme case.
A couple of weeks ago I ran into the problem of finding music for the project I was putting together on Social Street Art. The places I usually go for copyright free music didn’t have anything that would fit with the atmosphere I was trying to create in the video so I was a bit stuck. I remembered CCMixter which Stephanie T. had introduced us to during her presentation and thought perhaps I could find something there.
At CCMixter you can download clips to create your own songs however I didn’t really have time for that nor am I a musical person, so I was still at a dead end, until I discovered another link on that website. I clicked on dig.ccmixter and found what I wanted. The site’s slogan is “You already have permission…” which says it all. There’s a variety of choices and a whole section of instrumental music which was exactly what I was looking for. I listened to about 12 songs before deciding on the right one for my project. I downloaded the song and used it, crediting the artist as requested on the website.
Finding adequate copyright-free material isn’t impossible, it just takes a bit more work. I think that’s why students will quickly use something they don’t have permission to use. My thoughts are that perhaps allowing students to just use whatever they want for their projects is cutting down on their creativity.
The whole process of selecting the right music for a project, to create the right mood, the right atmosphere for the message the creator wishes to convey, is a time-consuming process that requires lots of thought – critical thinking is definitely a piece of that process.
Lankshear and Knobel (2008) pointed out that Lessig argued that remixing is a “mass cultural practice” and that copyright laws need to be changed to accommodate this new literacy. While I agree that laws in copyright need to be updated to reflect changes brought on by the Internet, I also don’t think it is right to take something someone else has created without their permission.
I always describe it to my students as walking down the street and seeing that your neighbour’s door is wide open. You can see what they have in their living room but does that mean you are allowed to go in, take what ever you want, use it however you wish and bring it back to them just because you can see it?
Questions: can any copyright law ever adequately address all the different situations brought on by multimodal projects students create? If the answer is no, is the solution to have the students find material that is copyright free or have them create their own songs, images and so on?
Knobel, M. & Lankshear, C. (2008). Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy. 52(1) p.22-33.
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