education, technology, and everything else

Video and Copyright

Posted by Miranda on December 16, 2007

We launched a new service at school this fall, a media sharing server. My priorities when we began talking about it last year were

1. To have a video sharing site inside our network that would not tie up our bandwidth to the outside
2. To have the site be student-run

I had noticed that students in our video editing class invariably uploaded their finished works to YouTube (and why not?). I wanted all that stuff to end up inside the network and not have it clogging our pipe to the outside. I also wanted the site to be student run so that students could learn by wrestling with policy. One thing that concerned me in the video editing class was that there was no discussion about copyright as it applied to music being used as soundtracks for the video.

It was set up as an “Activity” somewhat like an afternoon sport.

I will not even go into the agonies that I went through setting up the server although they were considerable. The script I bought: Social Media by EntertainmentScripts runs on Linux. Not only did I know nothing about Linux, the script requires a lot of add-ons to Linux which proved to be not at all easy to configure.
But anyway. The kids who signed up for the activity had a lot of discussions about copyright and drafted a long terms of service which they boiled down to one paragraph which appears right before a user hits the Browse button to find the video file to upload. It goes like this:

It doesn’t matter:
*how long or short the clip/audio/image is
*where you got it from
*whether you are giving credit
*whether other people do it
*if you are not selling it to make money/gain fame
*whether it contains a copyright notice
It is still copyrighted. You need the copywriter’s permission to use it.
Please read our full terms of service.

I then added this:
Be sure to check out our links to copyright-free material.

And we have two pages of links to copyright free audio and video. One student video, made the year before, had been shown in All School Meeting and everyone had loved it. The administration wanted that to be the first video uploaded. The only problem was, it used a song by Johnny Clegg and Savuka as the soundtrack. I posted on Johnny Clegg’s web site on his Scatterlings blog asking permission to upload the video. Lo and behold, a week later Mr. Clegg posted back, giving permission and asking for a copy on DVD, which I sent off to South Africa, along with a fan letter from the student. (And by the way if you’ve never heard Johnny Clegg’s music with either of his two groups, Juluka or Savuka, you are missing some of the best music in the world, I am a rabid fan)

So far, so good. But teachers are now posting video, mostly of sports events, with soundtracks. And those soundtracks are copyrighted material. One teacher admitted to me he had never read our little paragraph.

What are our students learning from this?

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