Long time followers of my blog know that over the years I have fought many many many battles with people who think it’s okay to republish my blog posts in their entirety without permission. I’ve been doing this for so long that at times I feel like I’m preaching to the choir. Then at other times I feel like I’m yelling into a black hole while simultaneously ramming my head into a wall. Two incidents this week have brought these feelings roiling to the top. Rather than just vent, I’m going to try to turn these into teaching experiences by sharing them here on Free Technology for Teachers.
Incident #1: A Plea for Help
On Monday I got the following email from a reader who was looking for my assistance.
The media specialist at my school feels that it is OK to use images that have watermarks on them in her school news videos under the educational fair use copyright guidelines because they are not being used to make a profit nor are the images being distorted or changed.
Nevermind the fact that they should be using images from sites that have copyright free images for educational use, is she correct in her reasoning that she can use ANY picture, including ones with watermarks, under the educational fair use copyright guidelines?
Getting this message was worrying because a “media specialist” should have a much better understanding of copyright and fair use than was is portrayed in the message above. A quick look at Stanford University Library’s Measuring Fair Use should make it clear to the media specialist in question is absolutely wrong in her understanding of fair use. In short, unless the images the person is using are so unique that there is nothing else like them and she’s using them in a critique or as an instructive example (for example, explaining an aspect of a Picasso painting) that’s not fair use.
Incident #2: It Says Free
The second copyright incident this week is the one that really got under my skin. There’s a website that was copying and pasting my blog posts and ever so slightly changing a word or to make it appear as though it was their original work. When I caught them and called them out on Twitter the first defense, in a now deleted Tweet, was “I paid someone on Fiver to set it up, it wasn’t supposed to be like that.” To which I replied, “It was done wrong so fix it!” The second Tweet I got from the offender was this one that shows a complete lack of understanding of how copyright and the Internet works.
Well no problem but you need to stop saying I stole it because it was free to use from your website free tech teaching so that’s not stealing or using and I will get them remove it no problem
— BuytechNow.Uk (@buytechnow) October 13, 2020
For those who can’t see the embedded Tweet, this is the text of it: “Well no problem but you need to stop saying I stole it because it was free to use from your website free tech teaching so that’s not stealing or using and I will get them remove it no problem”
Resources to help your colleagues understand copyright.
I’ve shared all of these at various times in the past. They’re still good so take a look.