Just like Nigel (lead guitarist of the mockumentary band Spinal Tap) who thought by painting an 11 on an amplifier dial would somehow magically make it louder, using property without checking the copyright or availability of use is problematic to say the least.
This week’s chapter on copyright is on a topic my discipline especially has difficulty with. Using classical music is most often not much of a problem, but rock and roll is a constant problem. So many bands, such as The Beatles, don’t even own the rights to their own music that it makes it very difficult to assign listening to students in this type of course. Last I checked, The Beatles catalog is the most tightly held catalog of music that exists.
Most History of Rock textbooks do not even include any music CDs since getting the rights for the songs is either too costly, which would be passed down to the student of course, or not available at all. Consequently most instructors of this subject (yours truly included) create YouTube lists for their students to study. I was thrilled to read in the Ko and Rossen that YouTube would then have the copyright problem and not I for having directed my students to their sight. On occasion a link I provide has been pulled by the artist, but that does seem to be a bit rare especially since there are many of the same songs in duplicate videos to choose from.
Another great alternative to YouTube are internet radio players such as Grooveshark. With this program there is no downloading available, but I can create playlists for each unit of my course, create a link to the playlist for my course LMS or blog and students can listen online.
Some of my concerns are:
1) Open source content – Are even the pictures I use for visual interest in my new blog subject to copyright? For instance the above pictures of Nigel’s amp dials and The Beatles Abbey Road album cover were easily found by searching in Google’s image search. Are even these types of public uses breaking the law?
2) I loved the mash-ups in Lawrence Lessig’s talk, but are these at risk as well?
3) I was once told that everything I create on campus ultimately belongs to that campus. First of all, how exactly would they know if I created a Powerpoint show on campus or at home, and really!!??? I’m a bit skeptical on that one, but I wouldn’t put it passed some campuses to enforce this type of law.
I absolutely loved Mr. Lessig’s discussion of RW vs RO creativity. Being in a creative field, I am a huge supporter of no censorship and open content. I am fortunate enough to live in a country that still allows freedom of speech so if I don’t like something I hear or see I have the right to turn off the broadcast or walk away. I feel it is a large part of my job to aid students in creatively solving problems and learning. If they step over a line then my job is to politely show them why and give them options for a better solution. I about fell out of my chair after viewing the Jesus will survive video!!!
There were lots of provocative thoughts in this week’s lesson. I imagine in some ways I am still a bit of a rebel with my internet use. And, in the words of Rob Halford, front man for the band Judas Priest, I guess I’m just “breaking the law, breaking the law“.