Copyright Matters

3 mins reading and ?? mins viewing/listening

So a few days ago a student told me about a media-making assessment task they’ve undertaken in another unit that places no importance on the issue of copyright. Students are essentially allowed to do whatever they want within this video project, with free reign afforded in terms of including visuals and audio elements. Given that YouTube’s algorithm is now pretty effective at instantly picking up infringements, these videos are frequently blocked by the platform and then have to uploaded to university servers so they can be marked… This isn’t the only story like this that I could start this post with, but it’s the most recent one.

Protected by Hartwig HKD (CC BY-ND 2.0).jpg
Protected by Hartwig HKD (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Given that few teachers utilise external social media sites, I think it’s a fair assumption to make that many educators feel ‘protected’ by their delegated Learning Management System. While the use of images in slideshows and capturing of screened video content in lecture recordings might seem to be far outside the complexity of work in the media industries, teachers are actually subject to certain requirements even on their shielded platforms. If an institution’s copyright manager undertook an audit (and they do from time to time), it’s seldom a speedy process.

Ever since I began teaching with social media – particularly in terms of video-making – I knew I had to teach-by-example to make my practice relevant to the real world and geared toward enhancing student employability. When I didn’t have or couldn’t film particular footage of my own, I learnt how to use all kinds of material (images, video, sound effects, and music) that has been shared with Creative Commons licenses. This turned out to be a fairly simple process of learning by doing (it needed to be as there wasn’t really any training or professional development available), and finding, using, and crediting such content in ways that replicate best practice has become a pretty intuitive part of my media-making now. Here’s an outline of some key points…

Beyond making media legally and ethically myself, I knew that I’d be able to convey my messages on this subject more powerfully with the help of an expert. I was initially worried about the theme of copyright being boring to students, but it’s ended up being one of the most appreciated topics I’ve ever taught – and I credit that in no small part to the energetic storytelling ability of Astrid. Featured in the above video, Deakin University’s Copyright Manager Astrid Bovell has always been more than willing to help out. If you found her enthusiasm in the segment above infectious, I highly recommend checking out the full conversation below (also podcasted here):

More of Astrid’s valuable insights – along with a story of how students can harness copyright knowledge for their present and future success – can be found in Episode 3 of the Social Media Stories podcast.

Let me know of your own concerns, questions, or strategies for how you conform to copyright (and get students to) in a comment down below or connect with me on Twitter at @digitalzones – I’d love to have a chat about this very important issue!! 🙂

Featured image: My own artwork, outside the hayfever allergy months…

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