I asked: YouTube/Copyright is tricky. If it's OK to watch YouTube online in school, is it OK to download and show to get around blocked YT?
Clearly, this is a naive view of copyright, but it feels right. If there are no copyright issues in watching it online (a big if I'll grant you) it seems sensible that you should be able to watch it offline too. Sensible perhaps but legal? Probably not. The problem is, you are making a copy of something without the express permission of the copyright holder. (Implied permission is not sufficient according to the Intellectual Property Rights guru in the university.)
Even assuming you are not making a copy, or using a pirated copy that someone else has made, you could still be in trouble. Just because you have legally purchased a legit copy of a film on DVD, it doesn't necessarily mean you can show it in school. A typical warning at the start of a film says something like:
"Warning: The copyright proprietor has licensed the programme ... for private home use only. Unless otherwise expressly licensed by the copyright proprietor, all other rights are reserved. Use in other locations such as airlines, clubs, coaches, hospitals, hotels, oil rigs, prisons, schools and ships is prohibited unless expressly authorized by the copyright proprietor. ...Any such action establishes liability for a civil action and may give rise to criminal prosecution."
Goodness knows what would happen if you were showing a DVD while taking a school club on a coach and ferry trip to a prison hospital based on an oil rig! Showing the film in school is specifically prohibited and yet legal, commercially purchased DVDs are shown in schools day and daily. Is the copyright law an ass or are we just choosing to ignore it because it suits us to do so?
I know that my dentist pays an annual fee to an industry body so that he can play music in his surgery. Does a similar arrangement exist to allow schools to play commercial DVDs? Even if an arrangement like that exists, is it possible to extend it to something like YouTube where, instead of a few major film/TV producers and a manageable number of independent companies, you have hundreds of thousands of individuals all posting material? I suspect it isn't.
Back to YouTube
Of course it gets even worse when YouTube users post something that may not be entirely theirs to publish, for example some of the Lip Dub stuff I referred to in a previous post - their video but someone else's music. Potentially an educationally valuable experience but one that is scuppered as soon as you start worrying about copyright.
Our brief flurry of activity on Twitter spluttered to a halt with the comments: "It's a tightrope, Spud" from Alan and "...there is sniff of Heisenberg's uncertainty principle about the issue of copyright in ed >how many schools prosecuted?" from John. Not an entirely satisfactory conclusion to either the Twitter conversation or to this (very rambling) post. I'm back where I started - confused.
- Is there a simple to understand guide for teachers that addresses some of these issues? What can I do and what can't I do? What are the risks and what are the benefits?
- Would it confuse things even further if YouTube was to promote Creative Commons licences for videos the way Flickr does with photographs? (See Free to use... with Flickr.)