Sunday, September 30, 2012

Copyright: Fair or Foul

When I think of Copyright and its importance to us as teachers, one of the six rights of the copyright owner comes to my mind. That is not to say that I do not acknowledge both the existence and importnace of the other five rights, but personally fair use ways the heaviest on teachers. Looking at this from a broad point of view, the reasoning for my belief is quite simple. If we do not have proper permission to use the various sources available to us, then that will make our effectiveness as teachers, and our overall careers very challenging. Copyright laws are extremely multi-dimensional; with different guidelines for what, how and how much we can use based on the different style of media. Knowing that the law is very complex, it is imperative that teachers know both how to claim fair use because it is crucial to being able to utilize many great sources. However, as aa history teacher I am lucky that most of the sources I will have to use are in the public domain. Government sources are in the public domain, and whether I am teaching United States history or world history I will be able to find and use sources that are relevent to my course. Perhaps the most important aspect of fair use, and at the same time the most overlooked is the fact that it is the individual teacher's responsibility to claim fair use. It is our responsibility to claim fair use, and to make sure that what we are trying to use clears the four tests of fair use. Not only do we need to take responsibility for proving fair use, but we also need a deeper knowledge of the inner workings of it in order to correctly go through the tests. Another dimension to fair use is having to prove it for every piece of copyright protected media teachers ill use. When I first heard about fair use in the Copyright For Schools textbook, I naively thought that it was only applicable for certain copyrighted items such as dittos from a workbook, or a poem from a collection, but it was included in the copyright law to be applied to any and all material that is used in a classroom setting. I feel like many aspiring teachers never think of copyright having any bearing on what they will do on a daily basis, but that could not be more wrong. I'm not at all saying that I was keenly aware of the implications of copyright law, I wasn't; but being in this course and reading the book has awakened me to its importnace. It is simply something that teachers cannot overlook and must have at laest adequate knowledge of. While I originally singled out fair use as my biggest concern, I'd like to amend that by saying that I believe the entire copyright law is critical. I have to take advantage of this class and the book to ensure that I am prepared. Copyright law is a big piece of the puzzle if I want to make myself a smart, dedicated teacher. There are so many great sources I can use for my class and for my students, but if I don't take the necessary steps to prove fair use and legallly use my intended material I am doing my students and injustice. Teaching will not purely be about content knowledge, differentiate instruction, and a knowledge of how each of your students can best learn but also about a knowledge of the copyright law. Copyright law is a sum of a lot of parts. Naturally there are going to be intracacies within the law given the fact that there are so many different types of media available. I must have an understanding of the limits and guidleines for each because it will honestly make a challenging job just a little bit easier. My first year of teaching is going to be chalked full ofchallenges so if I can get a grasp on the copyright laws I will have one less thing to worry about.

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