I have seen the light. Renee Hobbs, a media literacy professor at Temple University, and a member of the Philadelphia Writing Project, presented eye-opening and potentially liberating information regarding educational fair use of copyrighted materials at the NWP Annual Meeting in Philadelphia on November 20.
Apparently the Educational Use Guidelines that most of us have received and that we have seen scotch-taped to the walls above our school copiers are pretty much bunk. Most of us have been led to believe these guidelines are the law, but in fact they are not the law, but a set of overly-restrictive and somewhat arbitrary guidelines developed by publishers and educational leaders who believed that teachers would not be capable of or interested in interpreting the law for themselves. Apparently these people never met Writing Project teachers.
Those of you interested in using copyrighted works in your lessons or in having students create with digital media will be thrilled to know about the Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literacy Education developed by a coalition of media literacy educators. This code expresses the norms for using copyrighted materials in media literacy education, and provides clear and flexible criteria that go beyond the simplistic (such as 30 seconds of a song.) You can access the Code of Best Practices at http:\\www.mediaeducationlab.com. Click on "Copyright and Fair Use" for the code and a variety of other great resources.
In addition, a group of media literacy educators has petitioned Congress to offer media educators and their students exemption from the Digital Millenium Copyright Act of 2001. This would mean major changes in our ability to use clips from encrypted DVDs, MP3 files of digital music and a variety of other media with our students in our work.
I am considering developing an inservice on this topic to spread the true gospel, so let me know if you are interested (firstname.lastname@example.org).