Tag Archives: copyright

Can a joke be copyrighted?

Interesting article on the BBC News website on copyright and jokes. No not jokes about copyright, but more if you repeat a joke are you infringing copyright.

Matthew Harris of intellectual property specialists Waterfront Solicitors say that, in theory, a joke can be copyrighted – but with shorter, snappier gags which rely on abstract ideas rather than specific plots, any infringement would be difficult to prove in an English court.

“The joke would have to be more than just a few words long,” he says.

“As long as it’s not word-for-word identical, there would have to be a relatively detailed plot [for it to breach copyright]. And if that plot were so abstract as to fall within the general field of comedic tools, that’s fairly debatable.

“I think a one-liner would fall on the cusp of what’s covered by the law.”

Read more.

So here is a question if you repeat a joke you heard on TV, radio or on Twitter, in the classroom are you in breach of copyright?

No.

From the Copyright Act:

The performance of a literary, dramatic or musical work before an audience consisting of teachers and pupils at an educational establishment and other persons directly connected with the activities of the establishment

(a) by a teacher or pupil in the course of the activities of the establishment, or

(b) at the establishment by any person for the purposes of instruction,

is not a public performance for the purposes of infringement of copyright.

However this is only the case if the joke is for the purpose of instruction and not say entertainment.

Have you stopped beating your wife?

Have you stopped beating your wife?

Just answer the question, yes or no?

No sorry, just answer the question…. yes or no….

Think about, it, what is implied if you say yes or no.

This is a classic loaded question in which you can not just answer yes or no, without implying that you either beat your wife now or have done in the past.

The problem with some questions, is that there is no yes or no answer, even if at first look there only seems to be a yes or no answer.

The question needs to be rephrased in order to elicit a valid yes or no response. Or you ensure that it is an open question.

The same happens with lots of questions about copyright, as a result the answer is not a simple yes or no, but often a maybe, or depends…

The main reason for this is that questions on copyright too often focus on the act of copying or an activity related to copyrighted content.

This will generally be a loaded question about a specific activity which can not be applied to all and any content, as it is the content that defines what you can do with it, not the activity.

The questions needs to be clarified with the content that you are working with.

For example.

Is using an image found via a Google Image Search in a handout illegal?

You can’t answer that question with a simple yes, or no. So often the answer has to be; that using an image from Google Image Search “may infringe copyright”. The reason is simple some of the images from a search are copyrighted and can not be used in handouts, some images will be licensed under a creative commons licence, some rights holders of images will be happy with you using your image for non-commerical educational reasons, some images will be in the public domain.

The problem with the question “Is using an image found via a Google Image Search in a handout illegal?” is that it implies that either all images are okay to use, or all images by their use would infringe copyright.

You would have to re-phrase the question:

Is using THIS SPECIFIC image found via a Google Image Search in a handout illegal?

Now you can give a yes or no answer. You can’t answer definitely about the activity without the context of the content. It is much easier to define what you can and what you can not do when it comes to content; almost impossible when trying to define what you can by activity.

However this doesn’t really help the practitioner who wants a simple yes or no answer to their original question.

As I said in my last post on copyright,

Those of us who support learners need to provide solutions, not barriers to teachers.

So rather than spend time answering questions about what you can and can not do, or which images you can and can not use, you provide teachers with collections of images that can be used, so the question need never to be asked or answered.

For example there are thousands of images on the web that can be used for teaching and learning, many using Creative Commons licences.

Use Google Image Search and find images you can use.

Creative Commons licensed images from Flickr

Images (and other media) from Wikimedia Commons

Public Domain images from the US Government

Or get your institution to sign up to a licensed image collection such as JISC Collections Education Image Gallery.

Teachers also need to be more creative and willing to compromise over which specific images they want to use. Yes we know that particular picture from  Getty Images is what you want, but why not use a different one instead.

Also remember that under the UK Copyright Act you can show an image in the classroom without needing a licence, so even if there is a specific image you need to use, show the image rather than make copies of it. Link to the page with the image on, rather than put it on the VLE.

The answer as I have mentioned many times before on this blog and during workshops and presentations, is not about putting up obstacles, it is about informing teachers providing them with solutions and removing barriers.

As for the image above, well it was found via searching Flickr for Creative Commons licensed images using the term “judge uk” and as part of the Creative Commons licence I need to attribute the image on this blog via a link back to the photo page on Flickr. I license all my photographs on Flickr under a similar licence.

Want to join the conversation?

I am in the process of planning two symposia submissions for ALT-C 2010.

If you were aware of the VLE is Dead Symposium from ALT-C 2009 then you will know that these can be not only great fun, but interesting, useful and informative.

So what are the two?

Are you stealing stuff?

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.

In this digital age it is much easier to create interactive, colourful, exciting learning resources. It is also just as easy to infringe copyright.

Should we as learning technologists be turning a blind eye to this, to increase the usage of learning technologies, should we be the guardians of digital content, should we be ensuring that infractions don’t happen?

This debate will look at the issue of copyright in a digital age and the role of users of learning technologies and learning technologists.

Best thing since the printing press!

Alternative title: Do you like books or do you like reading?

e-Books and e-Book Readers are going to be big! Apple have announced the iPad, Amazon have their Kindle, many other manufacturers are offering a wealth of e-Book Readers. Likewise publishers are now offering many more titles in the e-book format.

We know that some people like physical books, well if you like reading and e-Book Readers offer the reader a lot more than a traditional book.

With an e-Book Reader you can carry more than one book, you can carry a lot more than one book. You can carry documents too. The screen is reasonably large enough too so that it is easy to read. The battery life is pretty good too, much better than many laptops or a phones. With devices such as the iPad you can view video or play audio.

e-Books are not about replacing books, in the same way that online news sites don’t totally replace physical newspapers, or YouTube replaces TV.

Likewise e-Book Readers don’t replace computers; what both e-Books and e-Book Readers do is allow reading to happen at a time and place to suit the reader.

However is this all just hype? A marketing dream that will never bear fruit and e-Book Readers and iPads will be placed in dusty cupboards.

Will e-Book DRM make it impossible or difficult for educators to use e-Books effectively?

This debate will discuss the emergence of the e-Book as a new format to enhance and enrich learning. Is it the best thing to happen to reading since the printing press, or is it just a big hyped bubble that will burst?

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If you are interested in being part of this then please let me know either by e-mail or adding a comment below.

I would suggest if you haven’t done so already, watch the VLE is Dead debate , as this will give you an idea of the format; likewise read this blog post on how I feel about conference symposia and how the symposium will be run.

I am looking for people to have different views to my own. I am also looking for a chair for each discussion

Deadline for submission to ALT is the 15th February, therefore I need to know as soon as possible.

Photo source.