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.