on the copyright elephant…

There’s a terrible old dad joke that goes something like, “How do you eat an elephant?” … “One bite at a time!”

Well, terrible as that joke may be, it’s going to be my strategy for engaging with our faculty on copyright this year. Now, I dunno about the rest of you out there in Libraryland, but teaching people about copyright is not one of the most inspiring and motivating aspects of my job. Frankly, I kind of hate it. Copyright is boring; the average mortal who is not a copyright lawyer finds copyright confusing; and when you’re charged with teaching people about the basics of copyright a number of colleagues inevitably feel compelled to find you out in the breezeway after lunch to tell you the 12 reasons that they think US copyright law is broken. For the record, I don’t necessarily disagree with the sentiments above, but “Hey people, we all have janky parts of our jobs that we enjoy less than other parts, but we still gotta do what we gotta do and say what we gotta say so please keep in mind that Dave did not write US copyright law and Dave can’t change US copyright law so what do you want me to do about it?!?!?”

Sorry, that became kind of a rant! 🤣🤣🤣

Anyway… Rather than painfully trudge through an hourlong presentation on copyright during a Friday afternoon faculty meeting when nobody wants to hear what I need to tell them and nobody wants to stay for a faculty meeting after school on a Friday (Seriously, faculty meeting time AFTER SCHOOL on FRIDAY?!?!? 😳😳😳) I’m going to try to share out copyright basics in small bites throughout the year and see if eating this copyright elephant one bite at a time might make the copyright elephant go down with as little nausea and gastric distress as possible!!! 🤣🤣🤣

I have a few minutes with both our elementary and 6-12 faculties during our opening of school meetings this week and I’ll be attempting to present some basics on use of video in classroom instruction.

I’m planning to start with my handy-dandy homemade flowchart…

We’ll walk through the “NOT for direct instruction” and “for direct instruction” options. Let teachers know that we actually do have a public performance site license that we maintain for the school and what that means, and we’ll remind them that we subscribe to SWANK Video Streaming in an attempt to make complying with US copyright law as painless as we can afford to make it for them.

Do you do copyright instruction with your faculty? If yes, what’s worked for you?

That’s it for now. Today is my last day of summer break. New students join us on campus next Monday and all students Preschool-12 will be back next Tuesday. Ready or not here comes SY ’23-’24!!!

5 thoughts on “on the copyright elephant…

  1. Copyright may be boring, but YOU are not!! I could listen to you read the phone book so am confident that can pull this off (despite being given the Friday aft time slot, which is cruel and unusual punishment).

    This flowchart is fabulous – the use of colour and terms “probably” and “might” are my favourite parts. Thank you so much for sharing!

  2. Thank you for this important work – it’s never fun but you certainly make it much easier to swallow. Please share your updates during the year. Have a wonderful school year.

  3. I echo Shelagh, you are not boring ever! I saw your blog post this morning and thought HURRAY bc I’ve been struggling w how to address the beast of all that is copyright with my faculty. Thank you, Dave!.

  4. I think you’re on the money to start with the immediate need around reviewing fair use and starting with basics. I was actually thinking of adapting a lesson I did for an AP Computer Science class that dug into the intentions around copyright and Creative Commons (https://docs.google.com/document/d/1AWCnldSe5C_xihsPL8xEAa2QdA3VA-zME5Rd5WmWZbA/edit?usp=sharing) for an audience of educators.

    I thought we could do a brief overview of the history of copyright and do a different QFT prompt for teachers, something like “Schools should model copyright use to teach students to be ethical users of information” and then transition to the ways our classroom and extracurricular lives intersect with copyright issues and what are we teaching or not teaching. I’m sure everyone sees the glaring issue of having enough of a chunk of time to actually do this session, but I think it could be a meaningful PD that builds on our usual fair use overview. 😉

  5. Very nice job on that flow chart! Simple, and easy to understand. A few years ago I worked with our tech director to create a paper (!) check list that worked as both an educational tool and a simple one-page guide when a teacher had a copyright question. Our presentation was met with the typical 50% of teachers who thought it was a useful tool, and 50% who couldn’t be bothered :-/ Good luck – this is really well done.

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