I was reading through The Daily Collegian today and thought this story was interesting. It helps illustrate that these copyright issues and the activity of organizations like the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) are not abstract. In addition to talking about how this issue affects local students and what Information Technology Services is doing to monitor student bandwidth use, this article also mentions Dr. Matt Jackson, from the College of Communications. Dr. Jackson helped us think through this copyright site.
A friend at Penn State’s University Libraries shared this resource with me. It’s a page within the Pennsylvania Center for the Book site which addresses copyright basics, including a definition and some examples of cases where you can duplicate copyrighted material. There is a section of this page that describes “First Sale” – which essentially gives you the right to sell things like used books and CDs. I looked up a bit more about First Sale on Wikipedia and there is a 2008 case listed where the court ruled that selling used software was legal. Very interesting stuff.
The Penn State “Campus Downloading” site was created by the Recording Industry Association of America to explain the legal issues surrounding students downloading copyrighted music (typically through peer to peer file sharing services). It includes an FAQ that covers copyright law and legal consequences. They also have a video that explains many of these issues and a list of Web sites where you can buy songs or albums, pay a subscription for unlimited downloads, or get completely free music.
The Sparky Awards is a contest where students can submit a short video about the value of sharing information and win a Sparky Award plus $1000. The winner and two runner-up videos from 2007 are online. I think Penn State students are capable of winning this award, especially with access to the production facilities at the Digital Commons.
What can you do if you want to include a photograph in a project or presentation? The American Society of Picture Professionals has created some guidelines that could help you find and contact a photographer who took an image that you would like to use. Also, the online photo sharing service, Flickr, has an advance search which lets you search for images that have a Creative Commons license. A Creative Commons license may permit you to use an image taken by someone else with some restrictions. For example, the photographer may limit their images so they can only be used for non-commercial purposes. In most cases, that includes student projects.
Sandy Thatcher from the Penn State University Press passed along this fair use guide. It was produced by the Center for Social Media. It covers six topics and how they related to “fair use”:
- Commenting on or critiquing of copyrighted material
- Using copyrighted material for illustration or example
- Capturing copyrighted material incidentally or accidentally
- Reproducing, reposting, or quoting in order to memorialize, preserve, or discuss an experience, an event, or a cultural phenomenon
- Copying, reposting, and recirculating a work or part of a work for purposes of launching a discussion
- Quoting in order to recombine elements to make a new work that depends for its meaning (often unlikely) relationships between the elements
Determining the copyright status of a published work depends on a lot of factors, even when the author died! This is a very interesting Flash-based tool that helps you determine whether a printed work is protected by copyright or not. There is also a physical version of the copyright slider that you can order if you are so inclined.
Information Technology Services has created a student page that defines plagiarism, provides examples, and links to the academic integrity statements of a great number of colleges and campuses. If you want much more information on this issue, including faculty guidelines, resources at other institutions, and published articles on plagiarism, check out the Cyberplagiarism: Detection and Prevention site.
This mashup of dozens of Disney cartoons explains the very basic principles of copyright and fair use. Fair warning: the opinions expressed in this video favor the public domain over copyright laws and companies who are profit-driven. The video itself is an interesting case study of fair use. The video wasn’t produced by Disney and I seriously doubt that the creators got Disney’s permission to use these clips. However, in my non-legal opinion, this is a transformative work. It doesn’t compete with the original work and it is educational, a critical commentary, and a parody at the same time. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t want to be sitting in a court room across from Disney lawyers and have to defend the legality of this video. But personally, I think it is brilliant.
Most academic writing is based on the prior work of other people. Copying another person’s work and submitting it as your own is plagiarism, but using someone’s ideas without giving them the appropriate credit is also plagiarism, even if it is unintentional. The University Libraries staff has put together a very nice site that steps you through the process of conducting research, citing your sources, creating references, quoting, and other aspects of the research and writing process. These resources help you to avoid plagiarism.