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Copyright - updated

Written by David on August 20th, 2009.      0 comments

It seems that the copyright net is closing in on us here in New Zealand and it seems that falling revenues from traditional sources of income are the cause.

Music specialist Chris Hocquard, of Dominion Law, said music companies were under pressure to recover money to counter falling record sales revenue.

This quote was from the Weekend Herald article on August 15.

Since then the copyright issue has surfaced twice more in the newspapers:

August 18

August 19

How long will it be before schools are in the gun?

Topics: Copyright

Imperfect thoughts

Written by David on August 19th, 2009.      0 comments

I have been mulling over a post that I want to make for several days, probably weeks now.  I have been taking notes from books, madly jotting down key concepts and the pages they are on, in my notebook.  In addition I have been making connections between the different texts and new ideas and concepts keep bubbling to the surface of my thoughts.  In a previous post I said that I was reading Born Digital, it is a fascinating book to read and have re-read lots of the chapters to re-visit some of the ideas that the authors have floated.  However in the last few days my latest ‘Red Cross Parcel‘ has arrived from Amazon and it is the combination of the three books that has set my brain off.

I am not really an economics kind of person, but the concepts that lie behind “The Long Tail have really begun to intrigue me and I have found myself asking if the economic phenomenon of infinite choice versus the traditional retail model has a resonance with education and e-learning, especially when the arguments of this book are overlaid with those of born digital.  I now have to add to the mix the third book “Convergence Culture” and you begin to see why my brain is fizzing and perhaps why I have been un-able to clearly formulate a post.  I guess that I know in the back of my mind that if I were to start writing where my thoughts are now, imperfect though they are, the act of writing would help me to clarify my thinking and allow me to draw some conclusions, but I think the post would be incredibly long!

I think that I need to perhaps explore the concepts in each book in individual posts and then draw the ideas together.



Written by David on August 19th, 2009.      0 comments

I have just discovered a great new tool for communicating via video, tokbox.  I have reviewed it on my resources page, which has now been organised into an alphabetical order rather than the newest item at the top as I used to do.  Have fun searching through the resources page.


Resources page updated

Written by David on August 11th, 2009.      0 comments

I have added two new resources to the list on the resources page of free utilities for teachers.  The list is now 83 tools long and growing, check them out.



Written by David on August 4th, 2009.      0 comments

I am reading a fascinating book called ‘Born Digital - Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives.’  I know that the distinction digital native and digital immigrant is problematic for some, but this book is discussing what our world may look like when its movers and shakers is made up of the generation that have grown up online, the ‘Digital Natives’ of the title.

I am currently reading the ‘Creators’ chapter in which the authors are discussing the re-mix or mash up culture of the Internet.  One of the themes that has struck a chord as I am reading is the whole notion of copyright, especially how that may impact upon schools.  The authors cite fan fiction as an example and the Harry Potter fan fiction site in particular.  When the book was published the HP fan fiction site had 45, 000 fan fiction submissions on it, each one technically a copyright infringement, yet the creators are  not intentionally setting out to make money from their endeavours or intentionally infringe the copyright of Boomsbury press or J K Rowling.  To their credit the copyright holders have not taken any action, but legally they could.

Most teachers would be delighted to have students willingly write so much, so enthusiastically, yet that very act is a copyright infringement, especially if this re-mixed content is shared online in any form.    Schools are increasingly using blogs, wikis and all manner of web 2.0 applications to display and give authenticity to their students work, it is very likely that some of that content will infringe copyright.  Schools are in a world of grey, and someone is going to fall foul of this in the near futre and I fear be held to account, very publicly.

So what does this mean? In his video, Michael Wesch



cautions us that we will have to re-think copyright, amongst many other things as a result of the societal impact of the Internet. Until that time comes schools and particularly students will have to be extraordinarily careful about the content they put online. It seems that copyright holders are starting to exert their muscle while they can as they too acknowledge a shifting copyright environment.  Recent court cases in the US that have severely financially penalised a single parent and a student for their file sharing activities illustrate this point.  Interestingly the initial upload in each case was minimal, but the frequency of the downloads, i.e. its popularity is what incurred the highest financial penalty, yet the individual downloaders were not penalised, yet.

For me what these cases indicate is a hardening of attitude to copyright infringement by individuals and this is something that schools need to be particularly alert to.  I suspect that many schools and teachers have long taken a fairly laisez faire view of copyright.  Furthermore I suspect that many of them justify their actions by  reasoning that as a non commercial, educational (AKA penniless) institution, copyright holders might cut them some slack, I think that the above examples would now emphatically burst that particular bubble.

In New Zealand the proposed amendment to section 92a of the 1994 Copyright Act has seemingly been defeated, a deeply un-popular three strikes and you are out policy, but the issue has not gone away.  Policy makers are seeking submissions to ensure that the amendment becomes a workable model for ISP’s to police the surfing activities of their customers.  For New Zealand schools the issue of copyright infringement has come a lot closer to home.  Your ISP will soon be policing the activities of your users and holding you liable for their infringements.

What it comes down to is the clash of two models of ownership.  The ‘Digital Natives’ of the book have a more fluid view of ownership and copyright.  At this time, the re-mixers have no problems with their stuff being re-used, re-mixed, re-published and they have been incredibly busy!  The death of the high street music store, the decline in traditional retail sales of music, the ease with whichvideo can now be distributed etc has severely dented the income model of the traditional copyright owners.  Technology is killing their income stream;  the copyright holders are having to re-think their business models and at the same time watch their copyrighted material move effortlessly around the cloud without any financial gain to them.  The model has to change as Michael Wesch says we will have to re-think a few things, in the meantime re-mixers and especially schools, beware.



Written by David on August 2nd, 2009.      0 comments

I have found a new resource on the Internet, whilst not entirely free, the free option is very good.  I am talking about Widgetbox.  The two widgets at the side of the page here were created using Widgetbox.  There are four variants of widget that you can create and over time I will be experimenting with them all.  They are highly customisable and not only that, once you have shared it with the community you can then embed your widget into your chosen site.  The great thing is that the community has thousands of already created widgets for you to use.  All good stuff.

If you want to turn off the ads and remove the ‘add widget’ option then for a reasonable annual fee in US$ you can.  I may well explore that possibility over the coming days and weeks.  Great tool though.



David has been a specialist in the field of elearning for over 12 years. He has presented on elearning at conferences in Europe, Australia and New Zealand. His consultancy work includes education and business clients. READ MORE


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