Why listen to me? Ravensbourne
College is a small, specialist institution serving the creative industries. Our subjects are exclusively design and communication. I’m involved in a JISC-funded student blogging project.
What this means Copyright rests
with the author not the publisher. The author’s right to a monopoly is limited. This is a cultural and class issue. The Act of 1710 was “for the Encouragement of Learning”.
Moving on Copyright terms have
gradually increased. This is interesting if you consider that people are living longer - and have more opportunities to be creative. However, it makes a lot of sense if you are a publisher.
Intellectual Property Think of it
as an “intellectual lease”. A bargain with society. Money offers an incentive to produce. Too much monopoly stifles innovation. Historically, short, or no, terms create more economic dynamism.
Information Freedom Some say “information
wants to be free”; computers make copyright obsolete. A“UGC” model built on targeted advertising certainly suits Google. Freedom suits the Enlightenment ethos of mass education to which we owe our existence.
Where we are now Many
arts only exist today through public subsidy. They aren’t economic. There is no reason that selling music or films should be inherently profitable. “Piracy” scares around P2P filesharing allow publishers to lobby for copyright to be tilted in their favour.
Net-gen learners “Digital natives” -
take this with a pinch of salt. The concept suits the hardware and software industries quite nicely. Nevertheless… research suggests that more than 50% of teenagers use online social networking sites.
Web 2.0 and the PLE
Though a buzz-word, “Web 2.0” is nevertheless a useful term to encapsulate “social or collaborative online services”. Many students are already using services like MySpace or YouTube. Why not take advantage of this in education?
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The PLE Learners have their
own computing resource. Learners make use of complex social applications like Facebook. These are valuable extra-institutional communities of practice. And often empowering for learners.
Learning 2.0 The end of
the monolithic VLE? Personal learning aggregators: Institutional content, news, and information just one piece of the jigsaw. Learner-owned, and learner-managed.
What’s the problem? Publishers are
more litigious these days. File sharing is normal for students - they are either unaware it’s wrong, or have rationalised it. Commercial cultural products are intended to be popular. Students will refer to them.
What can we do? We’ve
already made a start today. Universities and Colleges have an important stake in the “copyfight”. But probably don’t want to get sued! Raise your students’ awareness of the issues - and why they’re important.
Creative Commons Creative Commons licences
encourage sharing and “remixing”. With proper attribution, students can make use of CC-licensed material. There’s a lot out there! CC is also useful for students themselves if they are using Web 2.0.
A bigger problem: staff Staff
can be surprisingly uninformed about intellectual property issues. Either blasé, or prone to overreact. For some, software “piracy” and so on is a risk-free route to rebellion. Institutional policy can make this worse!
Watch yourself You are a
content creator: Learning objects; Presentations; Podcasts. Respect copyright. Use CC materials.
In summary Digital technology poses
a challenge to traditional models of IPR. As creators and disseminators of knowledge, universities and colleges have an important role to play. Students will violate copyrights. Educators should be aware of the issues.