Week Seven

Educational Media & Copyright

One of my many job duties as an Instructional Technology Specialist is to assist instructors/professors with designing, filming, editing, and publishing lecture or educational videos.  A previous colleague actually did all the videos for the college, including Marketing videos, but when he left they hired a Marketing Video Specialist and the lecture videos got added to my job description.  It’s actually one of the most fun parts of my job, but it definitely has thrown me into the deep end of copyright law.  There have been a few instances where the line between a Marketing Video and an Educational or Lecture video have been blurred, such as in the case of the Wellness program videos.  Marketing decided it wasn’t their purview so they kind of pushed it on to me.  I was pretty new and I kind of just went along with the storyboard that the Wellness Director provided me, and this included some skits with background music. Copyrighted background music.  I didn’t realize this would be a problem until I tried to upload the video to YouTube and we got hit with a copyright strike.  In another instance, the Adult Education program wanted to make an orientation video and they wanted to include some “How To Study” YouTube videos in it.  They wanted them to be seamless, with no embedding and nothing that the students had to click.  I had to do a lot of research, but I ended up telling them that they could show the videos but that I couldn’t download the videos and add them straight into the timeline of the orientation video.  Yet another time, our library provided one of our Criminal Justice instructors with a copy of the movie Twelve Angry Jurors.  They were fine with him showing it in his face to face course but they had qualms about putting it in the online course.  Unfortunately, they decided to act on these qualms by removing all access to the video (which was supposed to be a Spring Break project) on the Monday that Spring Break started, so none of the students were able to access it.  (For context, we’re a community college that shares a campus with a university.  At the time, our library and bookstore services were combined, with the university mostly running the library.  The university’s Spring Break dates were different than ours so their library staff was up and running that week, but our students and instructors were out.)   When I inquired the library about this (the next week, since they went on Spring Break the week after us) they said that they knew it didn’t make sense that we were allowed to show the movie in face to face courses but online, but that “copyright law rarely makes sense.”  Luckily, I was able to figure out a loophole that allowed us to give students access to the video on the library server with temporary university credentials (never mind that they only had access through Victoria College credentials in the first place, but I guess it “rarely makes sense.”)

Copyright for education can be difficult because while there are some fair use exceptions for education, they aren’t always clear.  Many think that as long as it’s for education, copyright doesn’t apply, but that very often isn’t the case.  Have you ever tried to share a textbook online? Bad idea.    Luckily, UT has a very good Copyright Crash Course which I often refer to when I have a sticky situation.  More often than not however, I prefer to just stick to items made available under Creative Commons or other forms of open licensing.  While there are a lot of items available, I find that it is sometimes limiting because of complicated copyright law that “rarely make sense.”