Thursday, October 9, 2008

Is cutting and pasting images from the internet "Fair Use"?

Well, yesterday I was playing ball with my dog, Denver,(a Sheltie/cattle dog mix), and my mind wandered on to the copyright topic. No, I swear, this really happened, but I guess, like all of you, my mind has been focused on the topic quite often lately. It seems like if you start thinking about copyright, you start thinking that everything you do, academically-speaking, might potentially be a copyright infringement! While I was completing an assignment for another class, I cut and pasted some pictures out of Google image, and I lamented a bit about whether I was “allowed” to do this. The images even said that they may be subject to copyright which of course, heightened my fears of being thrown in the clink for copyright infringement.

After I cleared my head, I cracked open our Copyright for Schools text to see what Simpson had to say about cutting and pasting images from Google. I asked myself if my fair use argument would hold up in court. I examined the four factors that need to be considered:

1. The purpose and character of the use (Why are you using the work or for what purpose? For nonprofit educational use or for criticism or commentary?)

2. The nature of the copyrighted work (Is it factual or creative? and Is it published or not published?)

3. Amount of work used

4. Effect of the use on the market (Are you taking earnings away from the copyright owner/publish?)

Here’s my justification for “fair use.” My purpose for using the image from Google was for nonprofit educational use because I was using the picture in a project for my 504 class to post in a wiki. I wasn’t using it on a logo for something I intended to make money on so #1 was in my favor. I definitely lost some points for fair use on #2 and 3 because I used an entire creative work of an artist, but part of #2 was in my favor since the artist’s rendering was “published” or posted as a Google image so that made me think that the artist might have thought that someone might want to use their image.

Lastly, in “Copyright for Schools,” Simpson says that courts have given #4, the effect on the market, “more importance than the other three even though the law does not indicate that one of the four factors is more significant in a fair use assessment.” That said, I think that the fact that my use of the Google image is going to have little or no effect on the market is the strongest aspect of my fair use argument. Because I am posting the picture in a wiki on a secure network that only my professor and 19 or so classmates will see, I think the likelihood of getting sued by the copyright holder is very unlikely, and if I did get taken to court, I think my fair use argument would hold up.

So, what do you think of my analysis? Have some of you found yourself pondering some of the same copyright dilemmas?

Monday, September 29, 2008

Fair Use Links & Fred

Well, my blog is evolving, and I added some "Fair Useful" links on the left. Some of these might come in handy if you have to do a copyright-related research paper or if you want to become a total "fair use" expert!

I mentioned in my previous post about the keynote speaker I heard last year and couldn't remember his name right away. Well, before I looked up his name, I looked up Melissa D.'s website, and she had a link to Google's website that has rationale for why Google's scanning of books is considered fair use. Low and behold, a name jumped out at me...Fred von Lohmann. Fred von Lohmann is a lawyer and expert on intellectual property. You can read more about him if you wish under my links list. Anyways, he was the keynote speaker ("U.S. Copyright Law: A Broken System Needing Repair?")at the 7th Annual Symposium on Intellectual Property which is where I first saw the YouTube video posted in my first post below. I also have Melissa's blog link here because our topics are closely related and von Lohmann's statement is under Google Book Search News and Views link.

Well, I have ran out of time for blogging tonight. I hope to get back here soon!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Fair Use: An Introduction

Hey, Bloggers!

I am new to all this as well, but my impressions of what a blog should be is an interactive place to share our ideas so I am hoping that when you all get a chance, that you will take the time to participate in a discussion on copyright and fair use here. I also look forward to checking out your blogs, too!

First, I want to share some of my own thoughts and experiences in relation to copyright. Though I think we all have been generally aware of copyright issues and have all seen this warning
at the beginning of every movie we have ever watched. I think when a discussion about copyright law starts, many peoples' reactions tend to be "Ugh, this is really confusing and scary!" Although I think as future librarians and for some of you, current educators, it is important to be aware of copyright issues and to follow a few simple rules. I will get around to posting the details of fair use as discussed in chapter 3 of our text (p. 39-48), Copyright for Schools: A Practical Guide, 4th ed. by Carol Simpson, but first, I would like to ask you a few general copyright questions:

1. Have you heard of "fair use" before this class?

2. If so, when/where did you first here of this phrase? Please briefly share your prior knowledge on this subject.

3. You may have already answered this question in #2, but if not, did you ever have a class in undergrad studies or an educational presentation on copyright or "fair use" issues?

I am especially interested in what education, if any, you received in a teacher education program or otherwise, on copyright. I have to admit that I only recently heard of much of the terminology such as fair use, public domain, DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act), and the TEACH (Technology, Education, and Copyright Harmonization) Act, and surprisingly, I don't recall any formal class or even part of a class that addressed the topic in my undergrad courses as an English Education major. I definitely think that students in teacher education programs should be required to take a course that could be entitled, "Teachers & the Law" or how about "Legal Issues for Educators"? This course could cover all sort of legal issues including copyright law, teachers' unions, and teachers' and students' rights. I guess my most recent education on copyright issues was when I attended a webinar with a keynote speaker who talked about copyright. I will provide information about that in my next post. I would like to close my first blog posting ever by sharing with you a YouTube link entitled, "A Fair(y) Use Tale" by Eric Faden that I first viewed as part of the aforementioned keynote speaker presentation. Here's the link:

Enjoy, and I looked forward to hearing about your thoughts and experiences about fair use and copyright! ~Steph