Respect and Remix, hand in hand!

When it comes to copyright, our role as educators is very clear to me: we need to teach students, from an early age, to respect other people’s work. I could not say otherwise anyway: this is one of the numerous core missions of my job as a teacher-librarian in a middle and high school. And I take it at heart!
Obviously, we also need to be role-model for young people: giving a few classes on the importance of providing citations in their projects and essays but failing to apply it ourselves in school would be detrimental to the message.
On a personal level, being new to blogging, I have been wondering if linking the text or video in my post, when I am referring to it, is “good enough”?

This exactly is what Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano says in her Copyright Flowchart: educators need to model good digital citizenship and that includes watching out for copyright, plagiarism, and intellectual property. In specific circumstances, these regulations can be amended: this is the concept of Fair use, that allows limited use of copyrighted material without having to first acquire permission. And education is one of the areas where fair use easily applies. Nonetheless, as Rosenthal Tolisano points out: let’s make sure teachers understand the concepts and implications. And don’t abuse it!

  • Copyright: the materials are protected by law when it is created
  • Creative Commons: creators choose which rights they reserve or waive
  • Public Domain: no more copyright
  • Fair Use: a doctrine in the law that allow some use of copyrighted material, based on four factors: nature – amount – purpose – effect

That project that Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano, as a school technology integrator, developed with her colleague Meryl Zeidenber, a library coordinator, is very interesting and helpful, even if there could have some nuances added. It explains to students what to pay attention to, and its flowchart can be used as a step-by-step guide when they create digital projects.

Obviously plagiarism should be avoided: as I tell my middle schoolers: if you use someone’s work without citing it, you are stealing the author ideas, products, and time. I don’t want to scare them: I want to educate and make them aware of the potential risks: nowadays, incidental copy/paste can be “easily” done, when saving some facts that end up in the essay. Or students don’t think it is important, or their previous schools never taught them these concepts. Or it is not perceived as an issue in their culture. Or they are not aware of the existing tools that can be used freely, without paying and without being illegal. During this course, I personally learned about Unsplash, and Pixabay for artistic free photographs. But you can also find free material such as images, music, logo, drawings, etc in Google if you set the right parameters: see below.

Google Search – 5/5/20

When it comes to teaching high schoolers, they need to learn not only to create a neat bibliography, but also to cite properly all the information, pictures, graph, and data they consulted during their research, and then used in their final work. Most of our students take the full International Baccalaureate Diploma, whose academic honesty criteria are strictly set. As mentioned in a previous post, we developed a 7-steps to IB research guide and we walk our students through its content at different levels through the years, to reach the whole experience by the end of grade 11, to make sure these students are fully equipped to navigate through their IB Extended Essay and Internal Assessments. These library sessions are sometimes delivered within a course but also fit in an EE half-day workshops program. Librarians have created different presentations, and with the Distance Learning due to COVID-19 pandemic, narrated versions have been added! As we always gear to improve the students learning experience, earlier in the year we offered voluntary specific mini-sessions during their breaks and lunchtimes. As I say to them: “I prefer you ask me (a lot of) questions now than to have to tell you in a few months that you need to go back to your EE and fix your citations and bibliography”.
I tell them too that using information ethically doesn’t only apply to students: adults are also bond to it and they will make use of these skills in their future professional lives. Otherwise there will be consequences, and I illustrate this with one story among quite a few others. In September 2014, the rector of the main French-speaking University of Brussels, gave a speech, on the opening day of the academic year, which turned out to have been heavily plagiarized from a number of sources, among them former French president Jacques Chirac! In his defense, he claimed that a young collaborator wrote the text -and that part was nearly as shocking to me!-, and that he now got fired. But of course, this wasn’t sufficient and he finally had to resign himself. Role-modeling in education, whether at home or at school, is imperative.

“The principle of academic honesty should be viewed positively by the entire school community and become a natural part of academic study, remaining with the IB student throughout his or her education and beyond.”

Academic honesty in the IB educational context (International Baccalaureate Organization, 2014)

Our school uses Turnitin, which will identify unoriginal content, and we are encouraging our older students to scan their essays before submitting them to teachers as we believe it shouldn’t only be used as a repression tool. IB papers are systematically checked for possible similarities before being sent away for assessment.

These constraints should not restrain the creation process. Actually, being respectful of the intellectual property of others does not mean that art and innovation are not allowed, or won’t emerge. Either the original work is cited, either the new creation falls under Fair Use. A remix is not derivative of the original work, but instead builds on it to create something new and original, and should be encouraged in all forms of creation

“Many commentators today are talking about the “age of the remix”, a practice enabled by widespread access to sophisticated computer technology whereby existing works are rearranged, combined, or remixed to create a new work. They make it sound as if remixing were a novel phenomenon, but a brief glance at human history reveals that it is in fact nothing new”.

Guilda Rostama, “Dilemma,” WIPO

Larry Lessing is a legal activist, advocating for reduced legal restrictions in technology applications, and is best known for being the co-founder of Creative Commons (CC), which provides free licenses for creators when making their work available to the public. Without CC, when a magazine article is written or a photograph taken, that work is automatically protected by copyright, which prevents others from using it freely. Creative Commons allows the creator to choose the way they want others to (re)use the work. When a creator releases their work under a CC license, members of the public know what they can and can’t do with the work. And even better: all CC licenses allow works to be used for educational purposes. This means that teachers and students can freely copy, share, and sometimes modify and remix a CC work without needing the permission of the creator. This open wide doors to creation!

“Re-examining the Remix,” video, 18:39, TED, posted by Lawrence Lessig, April 2010, accessed May 3, 2020, ttps://www.ted.com/talks/lawrence_lessig_re_examining_the_remix?language=en.

In TED Talk above, Lessig speaks about what American Democrats could learn about copyright from their opposite party, the Republican, considered more conservative, but maybe not on this topic, and give an interesting perspective on Remix. The remix culture is a society that allows and encourages, by combining or editing existing materials, to produce new creative work or product. This is a desirable practice, that differs from piracy. Although happening on a much larger scale since the spread of technology and the internet, as Rotstama reminds us, there is nothing new under the sky! Along the same lines, Lessig also gives us some examples, including how Walt Disney based his first creation on existing work (Brothers Grimm…). It is appalling how the Disney Company now keeps lobbying so strongly to harden copyright laws to avoid losing its rights to the first cartoons. They did forget about their own history.

In the 2005 study Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture (John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation), it already appeared that half the American teenagers had created media content while a third of them had shared content they produced. We can easily imagine that these percentages would even be higher 15 years later. Teens are definitely involved in participatory cultures, in which they don’t act as consumers only (meaning general public), but also as contributors or producers. The study highlighted some different aspects:

  1. Affiliations: memberships in online communities centered around media such as Facebook
  2. Expressions: producing new creation forms, for example, fan videomaking
  3. Collaborative problem-solving: working in teams to develop new knowledge as the now-famous wikis
  4. Circulations: shaping the flow of media with podcasting, blogging…

Participatory culture carries benefits for young people: peer-to-peer learning, progressive view on intellectual property, diversification of cultural expression, development of skills valued in the workplace, empowered conception of citizenship. These are great! Still, let’s not forget some concerns that arise: these young people need pedagogical guidance in the process.
The report’s main goal is to shift the conversation about the digital divide from questions of technological access to:
– opportunities to participate
– development of cultural competencies
– development of social skills needed for a full involvement
In other words, moving from the tool(s) to the skills.

Therefore, schools should focus on developing new media literacy to help young people becoming MEDIA CREATORS.

Bibliography

Academic honesty in the IB educational context. International Baccalaureate Organization, 2014. Accessed May 6, 2020. https://www.ibo.org/globalassets/digital-toolkit/brochures/academic-honesty-ib-en.pdf.

Jenkins, Henry. Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century. Edited by MacArthur Foundation. Accessed May 4, 2020. https://www.macfound.org/media/article_pdfs/JENKINS_WHITE_PAPER.PDF.

LeClair, Tanya. Sourcing Images. Accessed May 4, 2020. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1Rt52zMyzEgbkbOlPSH-cEtFRm4tpZK4l/view.

Mathewson, Adrienne. “Copyright and Fair Use for Students.” Bibliography.com. Accessed May 5, 2020. https://www.bibliography.com/how-to/copyright-and-fair-use-for-students/.

“Re-examining the Remix.” Video, 18:39. TED. Posted by Lawrence Lessig, April 2010. Accessed May 3, 2020. ttps://www.ted.com/talks/lawrence_lessig_re_examining_the_remix?language=en.

Rosenthal Tolisano, Silvia. “Copyright Flowchart: Can I Use It? Yes? No? If This… Then….” Langwitches. Last modified June 10, 2014. Accessed May 3, 2020. http://langwitches.org/blog/2014/06/10/copyright-flowchart-can-i-use-it-yes-no-if-this-then/.

Rossel. “Discours plagié: Alain Delchambre démissionne de la présidence de l’ULB.” Le Soir. Last modified October 6, 2014. Accessed May 5, 2020. https://www.lesoir.be/art/672707/article/actualite/belgique/2014-10-06/discours-plagie-alain-delchambre-demissionne-presidence-l-ulb.

Rostama, Guilda. “Dilemma.” WIPO. Last modified March 2015. Accessed May 7, 2020. https://www.wipo.int/wipo_magazine/en/2015/03/article_0006.html.

Schlackman, Steve. “How Mickey Mouse Keeps Changing Copyright Law.” Artrepreneur. Last modified February 15, 2014. Accessed May 5, 2020. https://alj.artrepreneur.com/mickey-mouse-keeps-changing-copyright-law/.

U.S. Copyright Office. “More Information on Fair Use.” Copyright.gov. Accessed May 5, 2020. https://www.copyright.gov/fair-use/more-info.html.

Weber-Wulff, Debora. “Belgian Rector resigns over plagiarized speech.” Copy, Shake, and Paste, A blog about plagiarism and scientific misconduct. Entry posted October 6, 2014. Accessed May 5, 2020. https://copy-shake-paste.blogspot.com/2014/10/belgian-rector-resigns-over-plagiarized.html.

“What We Do.” Creative Commons. Accessed May 5, 2020. https://creativecommons.org/about/.

Wikimedia. “Copyright.” Wikipedia. Accessed May 5, 2020. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright.

———. “Public Domain.” Wikipedia. Accessed May 5, 2020. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_domain.

———. “Remix Culture.” Wikipedia. Accessed May 7, 2020. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Remix_culture.

4 Replies to “Respect and Remix, hand in hand!”

  1. Hello Christel!
    Thank you so much for your detailed blog post. I have been learning so much from you and I am refreshing some of the knowledge related to this theme of “Copyright”. A very important theme.
    I didn’t know that in google there is a filter for setting to select only the pictures that you could use free. “Google if you set the right parameters: see below.” It was very clear with the picture. Thank you.
    Also, the mention of the program that your school is using”Turnitin” was new to me.
    I discovered some interesting links, one is from Smithsonian Open Access that listed lots of free resources.
    Please check it out:
    https://www.si.edu/openaccess/
    https://publicdomainreview.org/
    https://creativecommons.org/share-your-work/public-domain/cc0/

    I hope it helps with finding some good pictures or videos that you can use in your blog.

    I am struggling to find my tone as a blogger. I think I should use also more images and videos to make it more attractive to my blog posts. The visual impact is very important and attractive.

    1. Dear Simona,
      I am glad I could help refresh your knowledge in the area of copyright, and give you some extra hints. Thank you for listing the resources you found: they are valuable and indeed, and are a great addition to the tools I discovered in Course 1.
      I can see that it can take time to find our own tone and identity as a blogger. It is clear to me when I compare mine to some of our co-COETAIL-ers. But the journey is great and full of discoveries, and I start seeing the value of exchanges with other educators.

  2. Hi Christel, I’m so glad to hear someone is asking whether what they are posting is “good enough.” I have never kept a blog before and I still find myself lurking rather than putting my posts on Twitter. Each time I publish a new blog entry I find myself on Tweetdeck, paste the link in, and then think, “What if this isn’t good enough?” It’s an agonizing question.

    I teach fourth grade at an IB school and we teach the importance of citing sources and creating a bibliography at the beginning of the year. My hope is that once they reach high school level it becomes second nature to them.

    I agree with you that the Disney Company’s moves to harden copyright laws indicate that they have forgotten their past. There are so many big companies though now who will shut down producers of original content on YouTube for using their IP without permission. This results in not only stifling creativity but, in some cases such as Nintendo, can have the knock-on effect of companies losing free advertising.

    1. Dear Simon,
      I am also new at blogging, and haven’t Twitted anything yet under my name! So far I started following some people, reading some comments, etc. In the past, I have shared some of our MHS Library activities under the Library Tweeter account.
      Is it good enough indeed… I am also adding: is it worth it?, meaning: am I adding value to the conversations? Why would other people be interested in what I post or re-Tweet?
      So thank you for your comment: it helps to realize that having a discussion is always worth it, even if I am barely moving out of the lurker role. But I am learning to!

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