Monday, February 12, 2007


Last week the graduate class I teach was focused on copyright. We also talked about the rights of privacy and publicity, which in the U.S. are governed by laws at the state level. This week in the semester is always a busy week on the discussion board! There are many long posts and many interesting questions. The questions are never simple, but always require some thought and some looking at the law and other resources. It is a week when the students feel both liberated (because they know understand the law better) and confused (because they still don't know how to apply everything they are being exposed to.

There are a number of readings that are assigned to them for the week and a list of sites to bookmark for later use. During the week, there are more sites and pages that are posted as additional references and examples. The last resource I posted to the class on copyright was Adventures of the Cyberbee. This is an adult site to help adults (educators) teach children about copyright. One of the resources on the site is an interactive page for children with questions and answers about copyright. I'm not sure what age group this page is for...the graphics seem to be for elementary school children, but the language is for an older group. However, at least it presents some questions and answers that an adult could use as a starting place.

One of the last questions I answered for the class had to do with copyright on photos taken by a professional photographers. Students had questions and came up with examples to back their questions. I actually talked to a friend who is a professional photographer and then gave the students the "it depends" answer. So much of copyright clearance -- and understanding who has what rights -- depends on "it depends."

  • It depends what rights the photographer gave you when he gave you a CD of your wedding photos.
  • It depends what rights the photographer retained.
  • What did the paperwork say?
  • No, just because the photographer is allowing you to print copies of the photos does not mean that the photographer has given up all of his rights.
  • It depends...
Last week was also marked by a discovery that this blog is being used to create a spam blog (or spam blogs) on the travel-ontour dot com domain. Content from other blogs is also being copied. When I looked last week, it seemed that all of the copied content was coming from blogs housed on Blogger, but of course this spam blog is not on Blogger, not on a U.S. domain, and not owned by anyone in the Western hemisphere. As my e-mails to the site owner and ISP are being ignored, I am living the nightmare that copyright holders fear -- having your work used in a way that you do not feel is appropriate. Copyright law legislates a level of respect for people's creative works. Even the Creative Commons licenses allow for proper respect to be shown. But what happens when someone is not respectful and engages in wholesale copying? (I know...see an attorney...)

BTW wouldn't it be funny if the spam blogs publishes this post that talks about it being a spam blog?

Back to the class...This week the class moves on to another topic, but I'm sure the copyright discussion will keep resounding in their heads. Hopefully, they will continue to learn more about the topic and feel comfortable trying to apply what they are learning.

Addendum (2/14/2007): First, thanks to my photographer buddy for e-mailing me corrections. Sometimes I can be the queen of making typos! Second, yes, the spam blog did pick up this post, which I think is funny.

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