Are you stealing stuff?

February 4, 2010

So there you are creating a presentation, learning resources, handouts, learning objects, handouts…

Now in those is there any stuff, such as text, images, audio, video that you didn’t create, have “taken” from somewhere else (such as a website).

Did you think it was okay, as it was “for education” and it’s not as though you took it, you merely made a digital copy.

Now I am not of the ilk that making copies or using other people’s digital content is stealing, however I do believe we should respect the wishes of content creators.

Personally I think we as teachers and educators should be setting examples to our learners. We should be seen as role models, that learners can look up to and respect.

As soon as we decide that there are laws we shouldn’t adhere to, what are we saying to learners; that some laws are okay to be broken. Then the question has to be asked, which laws should we obey and which should we ignore. The problem with that approach is that not everyone thinks the same.

Also learners may think that “as my teacher has downloaded video from the web, it must be okay for me to download video”. Even if you feel file sharing is no big deal, how do you think the parents of a learner getting a fine, an injunction, or their internet cut off; because they were “caught” downloading illegal copies of films and TV shows.

Part of the issue is that a lot of teachers are ignorant of the law or the terms of use of various websites. They are unaware of what is allowed and what isn’t.

A prime example is YouTube. In many schools YouTube is blocked for a variety of reasons, however many teachers wish to use videos from YouTube. So they use a YouTube video download service to download the YouTube video as an FLV or an MP4 file. This file can then be played in school. From reading on Twitter most people and teachers think this is fine, as it’s “not really copying” or “it’s for education” or “if tools are available on trh web then it must be okay!”

The thing is that this process of downloading YouTube videos is a breach of YouTube terms of use.

You agree not to access User Videos (as defined below) for any reason other than your personal, non-commercial use solely as intended through and permitted by the normal functionality of the Services, and solely for Streaming. “Streaming” means a contemporaneous digital transmission of the material by YouTube via the Internet to a user operated Internet enabled device in such a manner that the data is intended for real-time viewing and not intended to be downloaded (either permanently or temporarily), copied, stored, or redistributed by the user.

The Terms of Use are quite clear, you can only stream the video and you can’t download the video.

Many content providers put content on YouTube and only want you to stream the content, if they wanted you to be able to download it they would let you download it. Michael Wesch for example does allow you to download his videos, see the “more info” on his video page.

What could happen if everyone downloads videos from YouTube is that content providers would no longer use it and would use their own system or no system at all. Just because you have the tools, and technically you can, doesn’t mean you can and should.

Another reason, your college or school management have placed the block on YouTube, by downloading the video and showing it in class, you are circumventing the block and therfore you could be in breach of your institutional AUP and internet policy, which could be a case of misconduct or breach of contract.

It should also be noted that not all videos uploaded to YouTube are legitimate and showing the video could result in legal action.

All this for just one “innocent” activity, no wonder people get confused.

But as well as not knowing what isn’t allowed, many teachers also aren’t aware of what is allowed.

For example can you show a pre-recorded DVD in the classroom? In other words a DVD which has been rented from a video store, or a DVD purchased from a retail store? Most DVDs have a disclaimer at the beginning (or the end) which explicitly says that the video can not be shown in schools, colleges, prisons, hospitals, etc….

Under the Copyright Act, you can show a DVD in a classroom for the purposes of instruction without needing an additional licence.
If it is for entertainment purposes then you do need a public performance licence.

Part of the misunderstanding arises as generally when you play a DVD you get this huge legal message indicating that your DVD is for personal use only and can not be played on oil rigs, in prisons, schools and colleges.

Part of the misunderstanding arises as generally when you play a DVD you get this huge legal message indicating that your DVD is for personal use only and can not be played on oil rigs, in prisons, schools and colleges.

That is partly true for the purposes of entertainment and you would need to purchase a licence to show a DVD for that purpose.
However for informational and instruction (ie for educational reasons) it is possible to show that DVD in a classroom.

Teachers and lecturers have a statuory right (it is enshrined in law, the Copyright Act to be precise).

From the Government Intellectual Property Office.

“Performing, playing or showing copyright works in a school, university or other educational establishment for educational purposes.  However, only teachers, pupils and others directly connected with the activities (does not generally include parents) of the establishment are in the audience.  Examples of this are showing a video for English or drama lessons and the teaching of music.  It is unlikely to include the playing of a video during a wet playtime purely to amuse the children.”

From Filmbank.

“A copyright licence is required to screen films in educational institutions under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (UK), if the film is being screened for entertainment purposes rather than for the purposes of instruction or as part of the lesson.”

So could you rip that DVD and put it on a laptop or on the VLE?

Ah no.

Ripping a DVD would be in breach of the EU Copyright Directive which “prohibits circumvention of copy protection measures“. So ripping the DVD is a criminal offence.

Confusing.

Of course.

This blog entry was inspired by a blog post by Simon Finch. He writes about society and using stuff, he makes an interesting observation towards the end of his post:

Web 2.0, and the rest, is making us a world of creators and publishers. We’re uploading pictures, music, videos, Flash activities, personal writing, presentations, teaching resources and more – and so are our learners. That image that you’ve found, is just the thing to add value and impact to the learning activity for that needy class of yours. But that image doesn’t belong to an international image company – no, it belongs to someone like you..

Now we are not just using stuff from faceless organisations we are also using stuff from people like us, people we know.

So how do we change things?

Most people I know think that 33mph in a 30mph zone is okay, a few people think 40mph is okay, a smaller number think that 50mph is not over the top…. the reality is that less than 30mph is best. Not because I think so, but because society thinks so.

If you don’t like a law then we need to change that law. The problem with copyright law is that the money to change that law is coming from publishers and not from the consumers – but having said that, that is often the case, the consumer suffers, whilst “big business” profits.

I also agree with Simon when he says:

Yet the real point is this; we must teach our learners to value IPR. It is simply wrong to take without asking. It is wrong to pass what’s not yours, as your own. We need to instill respect for one and other – that is our priority.

I don’t even think it’s all about money – it’s about acknowledging people’s value.

At the end of the day, my solution is to stop using “borrowed” third party content and start using content that I am allowed to use. As a teacher in the 1990s I did right click, now I use Flickr for creative commons licensed images.

The thing is that there are now lots of legal solutions to many of the copyright problems that teachers face, we can provide learners with content which is legal. Those of us who support learners need to provide solutions, not barriers to teachers. Teachers also need to be more creative and willing to compromise. Finally rights holders need to also be more creative in allowing people to use their content in creative and educational ways and allowing it to be used legally.

Update: as mentioned in the comments below, just saying “I use Flickr” was insufficient. I use creative commons licensed images from Flickr and properly attribute the photographer as required according to the licence. I made the wrong assumption that people would assume that I was talking about CC images from Flickr and not all images from Flickr.

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Can I show a pre-recorded DVD in the classroom?

October 20, 2008

Disclaimer: ALL information containing in my post is for informational purposes only and should never be construed as legal advice. For proper legal advice you should consult a lawyer.

So here is a question which staff often ask. Can I show a pre-recorded DVD in the classroom? In other words a DVD which has been rented from a video store, or a DVD purchased from a retail store? In the olden days we would have called this a video cassette.

Can I show a pre-recorded DVD in the classroom?

Under the Copyright Act, you can show a DVD in a classroom for the purposes of instruction without needing an additional licence.

If it is for entertainment purposes then you do need a public performance licence.

From the Government Intellectual Property Office.

“Performing, playing or showing copyright works in a school, university or other educational establishment for educational purposes.  However, only teachers, pupils and others directly connected with the activities (does not generally include parents) of the establishment are in the audience.  Examples of this are showing a video for English or drama lessons and the teaching of music.  It is unlikely to include the playing of a video during a wet playtime purely to amuse the children.”

From Filmbank.

“A copyright licence is required to screen films in educational institutions under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (UK), if the film is being screened for entertainment purposes rather than for the purposes of instruction or as part of the lesson.”

Not a lot of people know this.

Part of the misunderstanding arises as generally when you play a DVD you get this huge legal message indicating that your DVD is for personal use only and can not be played on oil rigs, in prisons, schools and colleges.

That is partly true for the purposes of entertainment and you would need to purchase a licence to show a DVD for that purpose.

However for informational and instruction (ie for educational reasons) it is possible to show that DVD in a classroom. Teachers and lecturers have a statuory right (it is enshrined in law, the Copyright Act to be precise).

So could you rip that DVD and put it on a laptop or on the VLE?

Ah no.

Ripping a DVD would be in breach of the EU Copyright Directive which “prohibits circumvention of copy protection measures“. So ripping the DVD is a criminal offence.

Photo source.


Doing other things with PowerPoint

October 17, 2008

There are some other nice things you can do with PowerPoint presentations apart from show them as just presentations, or even view them again.

PowerPoint slides can be easily saved as images as mentioned by Phil in his blog posting on this issue.

Show them on a mobile device, ie a mobile phone, a PSP, an iPod or similar. It should be noted that the iPod touch (and the iPhone) can show PowerPoint presentations natively using the media viewer. Presentations can either me sent via e-mail or moved to the iPod touch using one of the file management applications now available for it.

You could also incorporate the images of the slides into Microsoft Photostory 3 and add narration or even more images.

Phil in his blog posting talking about loading the images ontot a DVD.

I suppose you could even burn them onto a DVD and look at them on your TV via a DVD player: now that’s an exciting night in!

In terms of DVDs, one thing that I have done is to use Apple’s Keynote to import a PowerPoint presentation, and add a voice over and export as a movie. This movie as well as being exported to various mobile devices or embedded onto a webpage and I have taken this movie and burnt it to DVD.

One of the reasons for doing this is that some learners may not have a computer at home or a media capable mobile device, but probably have a (£15) DVD player from Asda or similar.

Today a lot of teaching staff are still using PowerPoint, but there is nothing to stop them or learners viewing those presentations in different ways and on different devices.

What we do is provide the hardware and software so that learners undertake the conversion process themselves. Though we are looking at tools to make the process easier and more transparent.


Britain enjoying ‘digital boom’

August 23, 2007

From a BBC News article:

The net, mobile phones and MP3 players are revolutionising how Britons spend their time, says Ofcom’s annual report.

It reveals that older media such as TV, radio and even DVDs are being abandoned in favour of more modern technology.

It also shows that women, in some age groups, are the dominant web users and older web users spend more time online than any group.

Among children it showed that web and mobile phone use is growing at the expense of video games.

Some may not believe that DVDs are old technology already! However with places like Tesco selling DVD players for £17 and with the advent of HD-DVD and Blu-Ray, downloadable films and the growth of YouTube, we must start to think of them as an old technology.

DVD

I find it interesting that the internet and the web are no longer just the playground for the young male geek, but now that women and older people are starting to use the web and are in some cases the largest group using the web. This does mean that we have real opportunities in education to continue (start) using the web to support and enhance learning.

As for children moving from games to using the web and mobile phones more, does this mean with some in the education sector looking at games for learning, have they missed the boat already and should start loo king at other areas and ignore games?

As for the growth in mp3 players (read iPod) is it time we started in FE to podcast more?

Some things to think about.