More than words…


This is my second entry in Sue Water’s First Anniversary at The Edublogger Challenge.

There is a lot of attention given to text on blogs, but when you are writing with and for students, visuals can make a crucial difference, just like in the rest of your instruction. I’m not always as good about doing this as I should be, but let me make the case for why you should do this, AND talk about copyright issues with using images. Rather than go on about this, let’s take a look at this post I did with sixth graders…

First, let’s talk about the visuals. The students were in the middle of a unit called, taking a stand. I was asking them to write about issues in their neighborhood. This picture was a powerful way to tie what they were learning about stands that had been taken in history with taking a stand, and voicing their own concerns. It contextualized what they were doing in both history, and what they were studying.

Next, let’s talk about the legal mumbo jumbo. You’ll notice there is a very long photo credit with a link about fair use. Here is what I wrote below the photo:

Photograph of Rosa Parks being fingerprinted by Deputy Sheriff D. H. Lackey during her indictment on charges of organizing a boycott. Montgomery, Alabama on February 22, 1956. Associated Press photo by Gene Harrick this images is used under the fair use provision of U.S. copyright law.

You’ll see it’s a copyrighted photo. You’ve probably read a lot about using creative commons photos to avoid violating copyright (Sue had some great suggestions on finding them here), but there are going to be times when using copyright images is necessary. There is a part of U.S. copyright law called Fair Use doctrine. The bad news is that it is vague, subject to judicial interpretation, and handled on a case-by-case basis. The good news is that there are parts of it that allow for educational or journalistic use. Because I am sometimes using images like this on the blog, I wrote a page with a fair use statement. Here is the wording I used to make this claim:

This blog occasionally makes use of copyrighted materials. All copyrighted materials are used under fair use provisions of U.S. copyright law.

Materials are used either:

1. Because they represent a unique historic image, or

2. The material has been transformed substantially in a way that changes its original intent, purpose, and/ or meaning.

All materials are used for educational purposes in a K-6 school.

If you are a copyright holder for materials that appear on this blog and object to this use, please contact Ms. Mercer by leaving a comment. Thank you!

The photo of Mrs. Parks above is being used because it is a unique historic image. Think of how many images out there are that you might want to use that are historical, unique, and copyrighted.  Now, since fair use is not a right, but a claim, the last part says if the copyright holder disagrees, they can ask for the image to be removed. If I received such a request, I would of course comply.

Some of the best information on this is from Kristen Hokanson, who I met at NECC.

by posted under Uncategorized | 7 Comments »    
7 Comments to

“More than words…”

  1. February 28th, 2009 at 4:03 pm      Reply Sue Waters Says:

    Another great post Alice and I’m glad you highlighted several times that it is US Fair Use law as people often get confused between how it varies between countries.

    • February 28th, 2009 at 9:13 pm      Reply alicemercer Says:

      Sue, I know this may not be the best post for all edubloggers because it is US specific, but this is a big issue here in the states, and is in want of some attention. Your consideration is appreciated!

      • March 1st, 2009 at 12:33 am      Reply Sue Waters Says:

        Sorry Alice I should have expanded my comment. I agreed with you that it is an important post and it is definitely included in the competition.

        The reason why I said I was glad you mentioned US was that people often get confused by laws that apply to in the US and those that apply in other countries. Then they make bad assumption that they are covered. For example, Australians get so used to hearing about the right to free speech from the media that they assume they are covered by it while in reality we aren’t protected by it and need to be very careful what we say.

  2. February 28th, 2009 at 7:48 pm      Reply Kristin Hokanson Says:

    Thanks for the kind words:) Since we met at NECC Temple Media Education lab has released the Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literacy Education . You can download a copy of your own. According to the Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literacy, teachers can:

    1. make copies of newspaper articles, TV shows, and other copyrighted works and use them and keep them for educational use

    2. create curriculum materials and scholarship with copyrighted materials embedded

    3. share, sell and distribute curriculum materials with copyrighted materials embedded

    Learners can:

    4. use copyrighted works in creating new material

    5. distribute their works digitally if they meet the transformativeness standard

    Fair use requires reasoning and critical thinking. In determining whether a particular use of copyrighted material is a fair use, you must consider the rights of owners as well as your own needs and purposes as a user. Review the principles and limitations identified on pages 10 -14 of the Code. Depending on the particulars of the context and situation, it will be necessary to ask permission, pay a license fee, or claim fair use.

    It takes practice to gain confidence in applying the fair use reasoning process. There is no one “right” answer in making a fair use determination, which is why the courts have established a “reasonableness standard” which limits the liability of librarians or teachers who make a good-faith judgment that might be judged to be a violation of copyright.

    No one fair use checklist “fits” a particular case or situation. In some cases, a checklist can actually interfere with reasoning. A checklist can become a substitute or a short-cut for critical thinking. In thinking about fair use, each particular case must be critically examined through a reasoning process. SO if an educator goes through such a process to justify their use as fair use, it would be unlikely that that educator would “get into trouble” for copyright violation.

    Check out this wiki that enables folks to ask questions, post best practices, and find out ways that others are teaching about copyright and fair use. Media Literacy is a CRITICAL skill in our global society. We must teach our kids to be good media consumers and good media producers and this requires critical thinking. To aid in the process, we have developed a a href=””> reasoning tool that can be used to think through that critical thinking process.

    I hope your readers find some of these links valuable! Thanks for continuing to share this message!

    • March 1st, 2009 at 12:18 pm      Reply alicemercer Says:

      Thanks Kristin!
      Part of why I put that statement up was for my students. I explained to them what I was doing, and why I was doing it.

      I also tried to keep the statement general, rather than a long list of stuff and base it on my own judgment.

      I will update my list of links on Fair Use to include the new ones you provided.

      Keep up the good work!

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