Part of our reflection on this unit came of 2 emails we received from Flickr users regarding copyright and content use....
Mr. Kusher posted a powerpoint slide with 3 questions....
  • During the virtual zoo project: How did we ensure that all necessary measures were taken to avoid using copyrighted images/ information?
  • How did ensure that the value of the pictures on our webpages was increased through our use?
  • Does anyone care?

The following are the students' reflections from this conversation...



Here are the emails that were received that helped to drive our reflection as well as our response to these emails.

-----Email 1-----
It is not legal or moral to use what belongs to others.

At least when it is without permission. I realize that in making my photos public on the photo sharing site I've left myself open to pirates taking my photos and using them with out permission to do so but it is especially disheartening to find people within the realm of education so flagrantly disregarding copyright law and decency. Had you asked to use my photo for your project i would have gladly dug out the original and sent you a higher quality image for your site.

I cannot help but wonder if in addition to biology your school is also teaching children that theft morally justified. I will be searching your site for the use of other stolen images and notifying the Flickr users involved.
----Email 2-----
What does it teach your students to ignore copyright symbols and simply take what they want from the web?

I am referring to one of my images used without permission on: (note site page removed to protect identity of writer)

I have been asked to use my images by many others, I've always given permission to students and non-profit organizations. To use a copyrighted image without permission (credited or not) is stealing.

---Our response to the emails received re copyright---
Thank you for contacting us. Copyright is designed not only to protect the rights of owners, but also to preserve the ability of users to promote creativity and innovation. As a school moving to a 1:1 laptop environment we are working hard to teach our students ethical use as content creators. One of the things that we stress STRONGLY with our students is the ideas of Fair Use and transformativeness... I have been involved with a study through Temple Media Lab and have spent a lot of time discussing with teachers and students their role when creating transformative content using materials that belong to others as we design our project. You can read about how I have been struggling with these issues as well

Traditionally Educational use of media had to pass four tests to be appropriate and fair according to U.S. Code Title 17 107:

1. the purpose and character of the use, including whether the use is commercial or nonprofit
2. the nature of the use
3. the amount of the use
4. the effect of the use on the potential market for the copyrighted work.

However, what is fair, because it is transformative, is fair regardless of place of use or even purpose. Even in commercial use there have been instances where permission has been denied and works have been used in a transformative way. Peter Jaszi a copyright attorney and professor of Law at The American University, who is a partner in the Fair Use for Educators study, points to Bill Graham Archives vs.Dorling Kindersley (2006) as a clear example of how courts liberally interpret fair use even with a commercial publisher. In summary, Dorling Kindersley planned to include images of posters owned by the Bill Graham Archives in a book they were writing, Grateful Dead: The Illustrated Trip, a cultural history of the band. They sought permission to use the posters and although permission was refused, DK choose to use the images anyway. A suit was filed against DK for copyright infringement and the the case was thrown out, based on DK's claim of fair use. You see, the posters were originally created to promote concerts the new use of the art was designed to document events in historical and cultural context. The publisher added value in its use of the posters and such use was transformative.

I hope that this background helps you to understand what we are teaching our students.

We have worked through the project to have the students use images from Flickr and for the student to use advanced search to find images whose license under creative commons states that they are free to modify, adapt rework. If you are concerned about permissions, there is a way in flickr for you to set the protection on your images so that they are copyrighted and may no be downloaded with out permission. Images posted in this way do not provide a download link and if a user attempts to download them they receive a file that is called a spaceball.gif...the image will not copy and can not be downloaded. In addition one of the requirements of the project was for them to site these images by linking to the page in which the image was taken. In this way under fair use we were not only transforming the original work (changing the intended purpose) but crediting the user and linking to their other work (adding value).

If there was an image that a student really wanted to use, and it was copyrighted (not freely available under creative commons), we did ask the students contact the users. If you can refer us to the specific web page(s) that contained your images, I will be happy to check to make sure that they have correctly linked back to your work or have the student replace your photos with others, especially if you did not intend for your images to be available under creative commons.

Right now, we are in the revision phase (students are peer evaluating and making content changes etc) but I am out of the district and cannot make any changes to the site until I get back. Please let us know what pages / images are yours and how you would like us to proceed whether the students may use the images as linked or you would like us to find replacement images. I might suggest however, that you check how your work is licensed on the flickr site so you do not have a situation like this occur in the future.
I look forward to your reply.