Further Discussion of the Copyright and Fair Use CR 2.0 Live Presentation

I have looked around to see if there is a place where attendees were talking about today's presentation, but cannot find anything, so I thought I would start it here.

Presentation recording is at ...


Tags: Creative, Fair, commons, copyright, use

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My mind has been on the presentation most of the day and I have a few ponderings that I want to toss out for discussion ...

The presentation talked a lot about when the work is transformative that it falls pretty strongly on the side of fair use. What about creative commons licencing that specifically selects 'no remix'. The transformative fair use side of things almost gives the impression that transformative use can trump the licence holders wishes. Discussion?

After the presentation I skipped over to my Flickr account to set more of my photos to Creative Commons, but that was a bit of a wake up because I found that as I looked through my photos (even with my enthusiasm to make them cc) I found that photo after photo I came face to face with reasons why I couldn't make them cc. Often it was because there were others in the photo that I felt I couldn't assume CC of them would be OK without asking first. I have a few of my portraiture commissions that I have in there and I started thinking about how my past clients would feel if someone used them in a remix that they wouldn't be comfortable with. With the trans formative fair use over-ride I realized that the photos that I walked through and decided no cc on that they could indeed be used even when I decided to keep all copyright on for very sound reasons. Just as the teacher or student may think through very carefully their reasons for use of the material, I too have very carefully considered what copyright/cc license to put on it. Could it be that 'transformative use' could become a big bully stick to people who post images on the web? Might it make people think twice about making some images available? I have to admit to wondering if I would post the portrait work I do for clients on my Flickr page to share with friends and family because I cannot risk clients being upset with a reuse that they find disagreeable.

Much of fair use falls specifically within the walls of education when it comes to what we are teaching our students. I come from a background of being a professional illustrator and it was a big deal if your finished, publishable work resembled your reference materials too closely when you used them. Not only could you be sued, but your professional reputation could be damaged. Indeed, as an illustrator you used reference materials and remixed them to create an original illustration, but will the students understand that in the real world beyond school that remixing will have to be a more significant departure from the original than what they would be allowed to do in an educational setting? Do we do them an injustice if we do not also analyze what level of remix will be OK in school and what level of remix is required in a creative career after high school.

Please don't think I am trying to be critical. I just see some caveats. I teach in a fully online emvironment and my kids are scattered out all over the US and Canada. I find that there just are no commercial materials already available for Elluminate and Moodle in the subjects I am teaching, so I am constantly facing the need to make presentations and teaching materials for platforms that our curriculum (a textbook) never even thought of. I face the 10 tentacled monster of copyright daily and I get so frustrated. I just want to teach and not have to hand design everything from slides to quiz questions to be safe when converting a text to online. I have asked for and gotten extended permissions from the publisher to convert paper based quizzes to online Moodle quizzes, to use images from the curriculum for my presentations, etc and in exchange I just have to be sure each student has a text, is a student in my class (short term guests are OK if they are learning about our platform to decide about enrolling), and that the material cannot be kept beyond the course end date. I find I still get broadsided - such as ...

My course does have password protected content but I made VoiceThreads of my lectures for students that missed and for my asynchronous option students. That was great because I could set my Voicethreads to not be listed in the main pool therefore only my own students would know about them. But then the service changed and now the kids can download the VoiceThreads if they pay VoiceThread a $2 fee. That plops me squarely under a distribution problem that didn't exist when I made them. Now the students can copy and distribute them and I have no way to turn that off. They also added a 'feature' that lets viewers see other VoiceThreads made by me. That means if they are in my biology class watching a bio slide set they can then access the set for chemistry which they are not enrolled in. Again, a distribution issue. With no option to turn those features off, I will have to pull my VoiceTheads (about 200 of them that I have spent almost 2 years making) or have all students sign up at VoiceTHread and manually link each student to each slideset and then unlink them when the class is over. Ugghh! My point is, that when you make your educational content you can be following all the rules but when working with dynamically changing internet services you can find you hit a copyright wall that you didn't originally have. It can be a real pain and make you lose the investment of time you put in to create reusable teaching aids for online class use.

Where am I at the moment ... I am thinking about tossing published curriculum out the window and just make my own from scratch. With converting a text curriculum to online I spend nearly as much time converting as it would take to build it from the ground up. sigh.

Discussion? I hit on many different points. Does anything get you wanting to discuss it further?

I am faced with some of the same issues that you are. As far as building a curriculum, it can be a daunting task. That is why you noticed when I started a moodle on our own site, it is a fairly small piece of a history course, looking only at four ancient civilizations in America. But, I slammed into a problem right from the beginning. Pictures are paramount to kids and many older folks as well. The only pictures of actual items from the archeology digs, especially at Norte Chico, the newest-found site, are very much under copyright. Even a map showing where Norte Chico is located had to be scanned from a book, so I will have to get in touch with the author, who will have to get in touch with the person who drew it. It will take quite a bit of time to get actual photos of interest, and I really need to take a camera and go visit Peru to be sure they are all legal.

If teachers (including homeschoolers) are going to be able to make the best use of the Internet for instruction, we will perhaps need some special use considerations for illustrations, or else find a mother-lode of good illustrators willing to work for peanuts and kudos.

As I go deeper into this work, I probably need to learn more about copyright issues, and what I can and cannot do with photos that are already online. Is it sufficient to credit the source? Or, do I have to get and maintain records of getting each and every illustration I use? If I edit the picture, how much work must I do before it is considered my own "work"? Can I add a frame to a portrait, and change the hue, and it be OK? It I use photoshop and make a photo into a painting, is that a substantial enough change? Is there any guide that tells what we can and cannot do? Oh, and in the case of things like maps, is it sufficient to trace them? Or do they have to be totally redrawn?

Thanks for bringing up a question that needs to receive much more of my attention than it has so far.
There are a lot of gifted artists that find the field cannot support them for a living, but they still love to draw and paint. Many would be quite willing to create creative commons works of art for course material but they do not realize the need exists and often teachers need the artwork 'yesterday' so there is little time to ask for volunteers. Aside from Creative Commons, Fair Use, and Public Domain, don't forget that there are people out there with skills that they will lend to the project if you just find them and ask. WetCanvas and Deviant Art (I don't think the person who named the site was a parent nor thought through the title) are great places to ask for assistance. WetCanvas tends to attract the adults and Deviant art tends to attract the pre-teens and 'tweeties' age groups. But both are enthusiastic and love doing art that plays a meaningful role. Many of the photographers and several of the artists at Deviant art specifically make their work creative commons because they recognize the value of inspiration, remixing, and the need for reference materials for artists. It is a resource many don't think of when they are looking for images that they can legally use in their course projects.

With the web taking off and being such a terrific platform for education, I wonder, in the future, if it will become commonplace for schools/districts to have staff designers (artists + technologists) available for teachers to access. That would be so great for teachers to give a design brief to the school's course materials designer and the teacher receive back a nifty interactive Flash loaded on the teacher's course page made to order. The designer could be a help in walking the kids through the production process for student created projects. Then the teacher won't have to wear content and technology hats unless they want to. Curriculum developers are generally moving at a snail's pace in getting material that teachers wanting to move to online teaching can utilize. OK, pie in the sky, I realize that. But it is neat to daydream. I would love to be a designer for a school - I guess I already am, but it is all volunteer. I adore the challenge of creating something fun and engaging for online delivery. It lets me tie together all the things I love: Illustration, technology, and teaching. I bet there are a lot of others that would love it too. :0)
Copyrights within educational use is still something I am trying to wrap my head around. I have it figured out from a professional illustrator's perspective, but the rules are looser within educational use and that looseness makes it feel like it is a moving target. The rules seem too undefined and leave you feeling at risk for law suites.

I have seen recommendations that range from 'if it is for education you can use anything you want without permission' to very hard and fast rules such as 'no more than 10%'. It makes it confusing.

To me, artists themselves (photographers, illustrators, musicians) come the closest to having worked out the issues of how to deal with the blend between inspiration from another's work and making something that you can truly call your own, but even with them there are spats on occassion when something is pretty close to the boundary between the two.

Looking at artist to artist inspiration in formal and informal contexts may help the teacher and student to get a handle on what is seen as OK.

DeviantArt is a great example. It is a busy artist community and as such there is a great deal of socializing between artistic members as to what reuse and inspiration falls within comfortable parameters and what will bring down a hailstorm of trouble for crossing the line into copyright infringement. The majority of the Deviant Art population is pre-teen to early 30's so it will seem relevant to students as you are teaching them about what is OK and not OK in their work (and guides you in your own use of material).

Some members have set their galleries up specifically for remix and reference for other artists to use. Those accounts are different that the typical member portfolio accounts so that artists looking for references know they can use the material they find there without having to ask permission. These are all assumed to be creative commons licenses with citing the author at least encouraged and sometimes required and remix is what it is all about.

But, if you go into a standard DA portfolio page and use that artist's work as a remix, you had better be sure that you changed it so much that peers do not see it as copyright theft. The standard account portfolios are set to full copyright unless the author has stated otherwise. Artists at DA have worked within the community to socialize its members on what is OK and what is not and have used the idea of creative commons to limit theft while at the same time also opened doors to make refernce and inspirational pieces available for creating new artwork. There are no lawyers here with vague and hard to understand legalese. These are young people who have been on both sides of the fence - wanting to run with an inspiration generated from what they have seen in another person's work and in turn having completed works that they spent dozens to hundreds of hours working on taken and claimed by another as being their own works. I think we would do well to quite sweating over the lawyer's views and start looking at the natural law generated among artists, even young artists, themselves. In a bit I will post some links to examples of this socialization process and also to how the co-operation between stock artists and grateful users of the references work together in harmony. I actually posted it all in a previous try at this post, but the internet ether ate it. I guess I took too long putting it all together and it timed out.
OK, here goes with the links to help you see how DA has developed a culture of respecting and sharing.

Here are a few of the most loved stock artist accounts and with these accounts, the artists have done a good job explaining what copyrights they are waiving and what they require in giving those waivers. Be sure to click on the gallery icon to see the images they have offered and click on them to go to the comments where artists that used those images linked back to the stock artist. You can see the finished artwork that the stock inspired and used from the links the commenter provided ...

Dark Maiden (stock account) is the link to see this stock artists copyright waiver details. You can go to her gallery and see a few of her references that have been favorites that other artists have used in their own works here (be sure to take the links in the comment section to see how t..., here

Could you have taken images from standard accounts and done the same thing with them - no, unless you changed them so much that it no longer resembled the original model or objects. These could be used because the original copyright holder (the stock artist) released her copyright to become something more akin to a creative commons license.

An image with full copyright CANNOT be used without permission. All works by artists and the everyday layperson is given full copyright protection the instant it is created. Artsists and lay persons in today's modern internet have the ability to make reuse easy by releasing their full copyright and switching it to one of the creative commons licenses. These give users various mixes of rights such as use without permission so long as you cite the original author, use it only in a non-profit setting, or don't remix. There are many variations that the original author can select from. Giving up all rights to the original is possible by changing the copyright to public domain. Public domain works can be used by anyone, remixed, and used in for-profit use. Go to the Creative Commons website to learn more.

Now, a bit more focused on the remix side of things where you use a work that has copyright or Creative Commons licensing that you do not have to ask permission for - You need to realize that you really must do a lot of remix to move that work from another author to being your own original work. Taking three images created by someone else, removing the background, and collaging them together doesn't count unless there is a creative commons remix license on the original and follow the Creative commons licensure to the letter about citations and other details. A remix of references and stuff from your own hand on full copyrighted work has to be significantly different than the original.

No you cannot count tracing and even cannot count making something entirely from a blank canvas using your own hand painting from someone else's photo without permission if it has the original full copyright on it. Here is an example ...

I saw a Flickr photo by one of my favorite child photographers and loved it so much I was inspired to paint it. Yes, the painting is from a blank digital canvas and I hand painted it all without using mere digital tools to take shortcuts, but the photo reference copyrigt belongs to another so I had to ask permission. The permission was granted so long as I gave her a copy once it was done and didn't sell the artwork made from it. That was fine with me because I just wanted the joy of painting the image. Here is a ling to the work in progress so you can see how permissio...

Now let's say I wanted to produce an artwork that would be within copyrigth law but not have to get permission. How much would I have had to change to make it legal to use the image. As a professional illustrator I would have made the following changes ...

Change it from a boy to a girl, modify the clothes, added flowers instead of having the cement, Studied the wood to learn how to make them without directly making identical board patterns. Then it would be my own work enough to count.
Oh, I happily stand corrected about the VoiceThread. I have a controlpanel that I never noticed before. I can hide the final page that gives the links to other VoiceThreads I made. That is also where the $2 download option is. Problem solved and I am so incredibly relieved.

Though, I do think the point of dynamic web services is a valid discussion point. Features get added all the time to the means we use to distribute materials to our students only. Changes in policy can easily move us from being within copy-right guidelines that are worked out with publishers and then over night we face being out of guidelines. We need these platforms and we love the way they add features that make the tools so much more exciting to use, but it can be unnerving when we face a conflict between a feature and fitting within guidelines.

Now I am off to change the settings on about 200 VoiceThreads. :0)

Glad to hear that the problem is solved, other than changing those 200 files! I wonder what Voice Thread does for you that cannot be done by recording a wave file and letting students play it. Or put the wave file into a flash file, which reduces the size to that of an mp3. Does Voice Thread offer other features than to just play a sound file?
At the time I made these I did not have the tools to make Flash. At the time, we also were on a server with far less storage space so wav files would have been impossible on the scale I used the VoiceThreads. The VoiceThreads had a huge benefit when it can to convenient editing as well as being convenient to students because of the way the files streamed so even dial up students wouldn't have a problem with them.

Now we have a server with greater speed and space. In December I got the Adobe CS4 Web Premium suite so I can make interactive materials that are bandwidth friendly. I am still in the learning curve for tools such as Flash, Illustrator, Photoshop (I have used PaintShop Pro in the past), Soundbooth, and others in the suite - Oh and I have a trial of Captivate I am working with. I now have tools, will I keep making VoiceThreads too? I think so. I have come to really love VoiceThread (don't let the frustrations I was feeling earlier make you miss my fondness for it - I must have fondness or I wouldn't have made so many :0) ) I am excited about all the neat things I will have the ability to create and the fun the kids will have with them!

Are you painting that little boy on the computer or with a brush? It is amazing what you are doing.

Oh, I have changed clip art between boy and girl a few times. One I remember was changing a boy and girl on a seesaw to two boys and to two girls, to match the story. Reader put in his/her name and that of a friend, and they went to the playground in the story. So I needed to show the boy picture is they were boys, and the girl picture if girls were reading the story. But I cannot imagine changing a photo and making it convincing. It is all I can do to cut out a person in a photo to make a transparant background.

I think I better stick to doing edits of clip art, although in the playground story, I needed a merry-go-round and the only ones I could find were on commercial sites selling them to playgrounds. So I added fat line stick figures onto the playground. Perhaps I should have asked permission?

You can see the pictures on http://www.educationalsynthesis.org/books/Playground.html .... put in a boy's name and gender and notice the pictures, then try it again with a girl.




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