Monday, December 26, 2011

Great Video on Copyright, Fair Use, Remixing & Reposting Online

I just came across this very informative video which is posted on the Stanford Copyright and Fair Use Center website. In it, the executive director and associate director of the Stanford Fair Use Project, who also happen to be lawyers, answer questions about what is permissible to post to YouTube (or really anywhere) and what isn't when it comes to using material for which someone else holds the copyright. The questions are very authentic because they were selected from questions submitted by YouTube users.

The video is just over 30 minutes long but is well worth the watch, especially if you like to remix others' content for posting online or you have the opportunity to educate students on copyright and fair use. Students will be interested to know what is ok and what isn't in regards to mashups, parodies, and lip dubs. I was interested to hear the experts take on software tutorials, which I had never considered might be copyright violations (good news for all us teachers and edtechies - they most likely aren't!).

What I really appreciate about this video is that the experts speak in everyday language that us non-lawyers can understand. I think older middle school and certainly high school and college students would easily follow this video. The video is also aimed at the question of fair use in general, not specifically at educational fair use, so the content is applicable both inside and outside of school.

The key to fair use seems to be the transformative nature of a work that draws on or uses someone else's material. I am not going to try to summarize transformative use here, because for some reason it is a concept I have a hard time getting my mind around. But after watching the video below, and being exposed to some other materials in recent years, I am starting to understand the concept better and beginning to believe I might draw the line on what is and isn't fair use far on the conservative side. The examples of transformative use in the video will be personally helpful for me to refer to in relation to future questions I may have on the subject.

Another nice feature of the video is the fact that they display each question on the screen when it is asked, so after viewing the video in its entirety one time (which I highly suggest you do), you can always scan through it to revisit particular questions that pique the interest of you or your students.

Of course, the video comes with the caveat that it is not hard and fast legal advice, so please do not hold the video creators, participants, or this blogger responsible for future decisions you may make regarding copyright and fair use. It does shed some much needed light, though, on a subject that is not purely black and white. I hope you find it as informative as I did!

Copyright is a topic I revisit from time to time on my blog. If you are interested in other posts on this topic, please click here.

Copyright symbol graphic used with permission from