Wow, I actually will devote a post to Microsoft? In a good light? Well, I found out from Lifehacker that they actually put out a free eBook geared toward teens for online safety. A comic book/lecture, tied up digitally. Definitely helpful though, so I thought I would pass it on. Find it here:
Decided to not wait until October to try the new Ubuntu 10.10. I downloaded the .iso beta and am currently waiting for it to boot in a VM in VirtualBox. One thing that jumped out right away was the install message that asked if I wanted it to download the mp3 functionality now. Of course we know Linux, for whatever reason, cannot ship to certain places with the encoders for certain media files. Silly, that it really does not stop anyone from downloading it after the fact, but there it is.
Not too much new with this release. Boot seems a little faster. Lots more purple. I miss the orange and brown days…maybe I’m the only one. And the main window buttons changed a little, and by default, back to the left. I definitely do not like that. Apps pretty much the same. We lost GIMP recently, and it seems they will put their umppfff behind Shotwell instead of fSpot for photos. Quite a green app, but we will see. Now, to wait for the official release next month to see what changes.
I continue to struggle to find an all-encompassing organization/to-do tool. I stumbled on an Android app recently, Astrid, which I will try out. It is marketed as a simple task recording dashboard, so do not expect a lot of frills. You type in a reminder, throw in the time, and are set. I also will setup the syncing feature. You can sync to either Remember the Milk or Producteev. I do not use RTM, so I will give Producteev a shot. Look for more posts after I use it for awhile.
Ok, so even if James Boyle does work at Duke, he still put out a great read on public domain, Copyright, patents, Fair Use, and Creative Commons. Boyle, working for Duke’s Center for Public Domain, serves on the board of Creative Commons. Much like Lawrence Lessig and Johnathan Zittrain, Boyle does not argue against the premise of Copyright and patent law, seeing both as necessary, but just the exorbitant lengths and rules of them. He spends a lot of time discussing the DMCA, or Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which as we know, tries to further limit what people can do with digital media.
One point made directly impact educators–the ‘Fair Use’ of Copyrighted works. In education, we want to highlight a fact we teach, parody a work, or remix the work. Fair Use allows that, and Boyle highlights the actual provision, Sec 107, which states:
In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include–
(1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purpose;
(2) the nature of the copyrighted work;
(3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole
So yes, educators–use Copyrighted works. The law provisions that permission for you. We definitely exist as non-profit education. The DMCA has tried to take even those fair uses away, in the form of allowing DRM, or digital rights management. Although, the RIAA and MPAA have begun to shy away from this limiting technology. Just make sure you use those materials within the guidelines, so many words, so many seconds, based on the whole, and you’ll follow Fair Use.
Boyle focuses some pages on a piece of software, DeCSS, that allowed uses of Linux to watch legally acquired movies. Of course, the MPAA and others assumed the only use would be for pirating. Yes, some may, but Boyle poses the question, ‘just because you can, you outlaw it for all?’ I would draw a gun metaphor there. Guns can kill, so why do we not outlaw them all? Even with legitimate uses like hunting and sport shooting, the truth is some do kill others with guns. But we do not outlaw. Why do our courts not apply this view to all uses, like the DeCSS software?
Boyle goes into many other topics, including looking at monopologist behaviors of Apple, IBM earning more from using Linux than without, and Creative Commons. Again, for educators, we need to really put stock into Creative Commons. When needing a photo for a project, students need to worry about future possibilities. Fair Use will allow for classroom use, but what if the teacher wants to post an exemplary project to the school website? Or use it in a conference presentation? Not so clear. If you look through all the great CC photos on flickr and Google, you receive a small set of provisions, including attribution, non-commercial, no derivations, and you can make much clearer decisions. We all should be using Creative Commons.
A really good read. Yes, I am partial to this ‘Copyleft’ side of intellectual property debates, but this also helps show us on this side do not want to do away with Copyright. We do not possess some hippy view that all content must be free. We know creativity will suffer (somewhat) with only free content. We question some of the decisions in the new provisions and the extended lengths given to Copyrighted works. Regardless of your views, definitely a good read for all those in the content field.
Definitely Copyright/Fair Use/Creative Commons week on the K-12OSC blog! Which I enjoy, as a topic, because the education field does not give enough attention to this important topic.
Recently, I discovered the blog of rock group The Cure. I always followed them, but never really went to their site. I am not one of those stalker band folks, so except for the Smashing Pumpkins, I did not visit sites much. I did visit The Cure’s recently to look for upcoming concerts. I would love to attend one of their shows. No upcoming concerts, but I did discover a pretty good, regularly updated blog by front man Robert Smith. One of the first entries was a notice to folks about his views on free and cheap music. As usual with the media, it appears some of his comments were misinterpreted. Recently, the band Radiohead, put out a gimmick when they released a cd for ‘whatever you wanted to pay for it.’ Yes, Radiohead is out there trying to understand this new media landscape, but I think Smith hit the nail on the head–a gimmick. Because of that, all his words were misinterpreted to suggest he thought all music should be proprietary.
Even with my strong Creative Commons/Copyleft views, I agree with Smith. No one should put out all their music free. Sometimes I think that works, like the Pumpkins recently releasing a few songs on their latest album free (http://www.k12opensourceclassroom.org/?p=410). In their case, they entice you to buy the whole collection with these freebies in hand. Obviously, music would disintegrate if all music had to be released free. Again, like in Boyle’s The Public Domain, we on this side do not want to abolish Copyright. We just do not want it abused with things like DRM. If I buy a cd or mp3, let me put it on as many of my machines, cds, etc as I want, as long as I stay within the tenants of Copyright.
So this definitely makes me even more of a Smith and Cure fan. I will be interested to read future blogs…
Image used under Creative Commons (of course!) license by Wikimedia user Jeffcampion