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.

Kryten on Copyright and YouTube

Kryten on Copyright and YouTube

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?

———-

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.

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.

Now I am not of the ilk that making copies or using other people’s digital content is stealing, however I do believe we should respect the wishes of content creators.

Personally I think we as teachers and educators should be setting examples to our learners. We should be seen as role models, that learners can look up to and respect.

As soon as we decide that there are laws we shouldn’t adhere to, what are we saying to learners; that some laws are okay to be broken. Then the question has to be asked, which laws should we obey and which should we ignore. The problem with that approach is that not everyone thinks the same.

Also learners may think that “as my teacher has downloaded video from the web, it must be okay for me to download video”. Even if you feel file sharing is no big deal, how do you think the parents of a learner getting a fine, an injunction, or their internet cut off; because they were “caught” downloading illegal copies of films and TV shows.

Part of the issue is that a lot of teachers are ignorant of the law or the terms of use of various websites. They are unaware of what is allowed and what isn’t.

A prime example is YouTube. In many schools YouTube is blocked for a variety of reasons, however many teachers wish to use videos from YouTube. So they use a YouTube video download service to download the YouTube video as an FLV or an MP4 file. This file can then be played in school. From reading on Twitter most people and teachers think this is fine, as it’s “not really copying” or “it’s for education” or “if tools are available on trh web then it must be okay!”

The thing is that this process of downloading YouTube videos is a breach of YouTube terms of use.

You agree not to access User Videos (as defined below) for any reason other than your personal, non-commercial use solely as intended through and permitted by the normal functionality of the Services, and solely for Streaming. “Streaming” means a contemporaneous digital transmission of the material by YouTube via the Internet to a user operated Internet enabled device in such a manner that the data is intended for real-time viewing and not intended to be downloaded (either permanently or temporarily), copied, stored, or redistributed by the user.

The Terms of Use are quite clear, you can only stream the video and you can’t download the video.

Many content providers put content on YouTube and only want you to stream the content, if they wanted you to be able to download it they would let you download it. Michael Wesch for example does allow you to download his videos, see the “more info” on his video page.

What could happen if everyone downloads videos from YouTube is that content providers would no longer use it and would use their own system or no system at all. Just because you have the tools, and technically you can, doesn’t mean you can and should.

Another reason, your college or school management have placed the block on YouTube, by downloading the video and showing it in class, you are circumventing the block and therfore you could be in breach of your institutional AUP and internet policy, which could be a case of misconduct or breach of contract.

It should also be noted that not all videos uploaded to YouTube are legitimate and showing the video could result in legal action.

All this for just one “innocent” activity, no wonder people get confused.

But as well as not knowing what isn’t allowed, many teachers also aren’t aware of what is allowed.

For example can you show a pre-recorded DVD in the classroom? In other words a DVD which has been rented from a video store, or a DVD purchased from a retail store? Most DVDs have a disclaimer at the beginning (or the end) which explicitly says that the video can not be shown in schools, colleges, prisons, hospitals, etc….

Under the Copyright Act, you can show a DVD in a classroom for the purposes of instruction without needing an additional licence.
If it is for entertainment purposes then you do need a public performance licence.

Part of the misunderstanding arises as generally when you play a DVD you get this huge legal message indicating that your DVD is for personal use only and can not be played on oil rigs, in prisons, schools and colleges.

Part of the misunderstanding arises as generally when you play a DVD you get this huge legal message indicating that your DVD is for personal use only and can not be played on oil rigs, in prisons, schools and colleges.

That is partly true for the purposes of entertainment and you would need to purchase a licence to show a DVD for that purpose.
However for informational and instruction (ie for educational reasons) it is possible to show that DVD in a classroom.

Teachers and lecturers have a statuory right (it is enshrined in law, the Copyright Act to be precise).

From the Government Intellectual Property Office.

“Performing, playing or showing copyright works in a school, university or other educational establishment for educational purposes.  However, only teachers, pupils and others directly connected with the activities (does not generally include parents) of the establishment are in the audience.  Examples of this are showing a video for English or drama lessons and the teaching of music.  It is unlikely to include the playing of a video during a wet playtime purely to amuse the children.”

From Filmbank.

“A copyright licence is required to screen films in educational institutions under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (UK), if the film is being screened for entertainment purposes rather than for the purposes of instruction or as part of the lesson.”

So could you rip that DVD and put it on a laptop or on the VLE?

Ah no.

Ripping a DVD would be in breach of the EU Copyright Directive which “prohibits circumvention of copy protection measures“. So ripping the DVD is a criminal offence.

Confusing.

Of course.

This blog entry was inspired by a blog post by Simon Finch. He writes about society and using stuff, he makes an interesting observation towards the end of his post:

Web 2.0, and the rest, is making us a world of creators and publishers. We’re uploading pictures, music, videos, Flash activities, personal writing, presentations, teaching resources and more – and so are our learners. That image that you’ve found, is just the thing to add value and impact to the learning activity for that needy class of yours. But that image doesn’t belong to an international image company – no, it belongs to someone like you..

Now we are not just using stuff from faceless organisations we are also using stuff from people like us, people we know.

So how do we change things?

Most people I know think that 33mph in a 30mph zone is okay, a few people think 40mph is okay, a smaller number think that 50mph is not over the top…. the reality is that less than 30mph is best. Not because I think so, but because society thinks so.

If you don’t like a law then we need to change that law. The problem with copyright law is that the money to change that law is coming from publishers and not from the consumers – but having said that, that is often the case, the consumer suffers, whilst “big business” profits.

I also agree with Simon when he says:

Yet the real point is this; we must teach our learners to value IPR. It is simply wrong to take without asking. It is wrong to pass what’s not yours, as your own. We need to instill respect for one and other – that is our priority.

I don’t even think it’s all about money – it’s about acknowledging people’s value.

At the end of the day, my solution is to stop using “borrowed” third party content and start using content that I am allowed to use. As a teacher in the 1990s I did right click, now I use Flickr for creative commons licensed images.

The thing is that there are now lots of legal solutions to many of the copyright problems that teachers face, we can provide learners with content which is legal. Those of us who support learners need to provide solutions, not barriers to teachers. Teachers also need to be more creative and willing to compromise. Finally rights holders need to also be more creative in allowing people to use their content in creative and educational ways and allowing it to be used legally.

Update: as mentioned in the comments below, just saying “I use Flickr” was insufficient. I use creative commons licensed images from Flickr and properly attribute the photographer as required according to the licence. I made the wrong assumption that people would assume that I was talking about CC images from Flickr and not all images from Flickr.