This week’s topic is interesting. The clips within the Laws that Choke Creativity TED Talks video were hilarious. I agree that mash-ups and the democratization of creativity are pieces of our culture today (as I watch my daughter create My Little Ponies Photoshop drawings on her computer and give the ponies new names and personality traits). I especially liked Pres. Obama’s recent rendition of “Get Lucky.” Why can’t students likewise use their creativity to express themselves in new ways with humor while honing technical skills without being considered “pirates”? Thank goodness we at least live in a country in which making fun of one’s leaders is protected by the Constitution!
In all seriousness, I confess that I am guilty of borrowing others’ ideas for teaching my discipline, but I would hesitate use their materials as my own for my own professional gain, which is actually something that has happened to me. It was my fault, though, to share so freely what I had worked so hard on. On the other hand, sharing best practices — including materials — is what builds camaraderie and instructional quality in a department. I can understand why teachers and students in certain disciplines (the arts, for example) are more proprietorial, but when someone is using another’s work (such as in a presentation or a mash-up) as part of a bigger creative project and is giving credit where credit is due by citing the original source, I see no problem with that. It’s when said person is making money off someone else’s work that it becomes a sticky conundrum. For instructional purposes, personally see no problem with using, for example, an image from the internet that’s not my own original work to help students better grasp a point.
In the end, I think that if people are sharing online, they must know that these materials may be used by others. I suppose, though, that we do need to teach students about citing sources and the dangers of plagiarism. This is a bit challenging with my audience, many of whom come from Asian cultures in which copying is a form of respect. A few years ago a colleague at a community college in Orange County told me that she received an email from a bank threatening litigation if a PowerPoint slideshow she had uploaded to a class Web page was not removed. It was created by a student who make a presentation about his job, including a picture of the bank, where he worked. That just seems ridiculous to me. Again, ultimately, the line between legal and illegal use should come down to whether or not one is making money off someone else’s work, in my opinion.
A statewide Technology-Integration Mentor Academy for adult educators I was involved in several years ago has several interesting resources about copy-right and copy-left, which I have linked on my professional development wiki, including the idea of registering original work with Creative Commons’ various permission levels.
I subscribe to Tech & Learning online magazine, and I had bookmarked this article Copyright Flowchart: Can I Use It? Yes? No? If This… Then… this past summer, which has as helpful flowchart. However, to practice, I created simple flowchart first on Bubbl.us, which I didn’t like as much as this one I made on Text 2 Mind Map, which is very easy to use and does not require registration: OK? Not OK?