Thursday, October 30, 2008

Topic: Copyright and Fair Use

10-second review: Reviews the four tests to determine whether copyright has been infringed.

Title: “Copyright in a Digital Age.” Troy Hicks. Classroom Notes Plus (October 2008), p. 12. A publication of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

Summary: Fair use of copyrighted material is allowed for the purposes of commentary, criticism and parody. The four tests of legal use of copyrighted material are as follows: the purpose of using the material; the nature of the copyrighted work; the amount of the work used; and the effect on the work’s market. The results of these tests are apparently open-ended and arguable and lead to extensive litigation.

Comment: We are all going to have to learn about this morass of fair use of copyrighted material, especially in the digital age. The place to begin is Google and the main source of valid information on the subjects is at Stanford University’s Web site. Don’t forget, the Web site of the National Council of Teachers of English.

Two purposes of fair use—commentary and criticism—seem reasonably clear. If commentary and criticism are not your purpose, then probably, I think, any other purpose for using copyrighted material, except for parody, will probably be illegal copyright violation. But these purposes seem focused on writing and do not fit the act of teaching. The use of professional articles, for example, in preparing for curriculum workshops, might be considered “too much” in the test of “the amount of the work used.” I have a lot to learn about this issue and appreciate the author of this article for bringing it to my attention
. RayS.

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