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Interesting New Brief from ARL on Copyright and Streaming

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Last Friday, ARL sent out an email on a brief put out from the Library Copyright Alliance (LCA - ALA/ARL/ACRL) that provides some guidance on copyright and streaming video on demand to a secure online environment (e.g., course management system like Blackboard).

In September, ALA/ACRL put out some guidance on streaming video to the classroom and discussion on TEACH for distance learning. Though this brief is focused on streaming online and not just a physical (or distance) classroom, in light of AIME vs. UCLA, there is a massive distinction difference on potential interpretation.

Check out this statement from September's report:

"Second, this exception [sec. 110 (1)] applies only to the showing of films in physical classrooms or similar places devoted to instruction, and not in remote locations. The key question is where the film will be viewed by the class, not where the physical copy is located. While the exception would cover the streaming of a film from a media lab to the classroom where it is viewed, it would not reach the streaming of a film to students' residences for homework."

Check out this statement from last week (which also references said statement):

Indeed, the September 2009 analysis of Section 110(1) suggests that the provision "would not reach the streaming of a film to students' residences for homework." However, films that are required viewing and will be subject to classroom discussion may be a different matter, depending on whether a court interprets the phrases "face-to-face teaching activities" and "similar place devoted to instruction" in a more flexible manner.


I can not overstate the implications of the phrase:
"However, films that are required viewing and will be subject to classroom discussion may be a different matter".


From my perspective, of the many heated concerns expressed by film rights holders to educators (e.g., control of distribution, digital licensing fees, no need for multiple copies/replacements, rights holders lack of digital format rights from their film component creators - see Eyes on the Prize); at the very heart of the debate is asynchronous digital streaming-on-demand of physical media for video e-reserves.

The thought that students in face-to-face courses could log-in "anytime, anyplace" and access a full video (there appears to be general consensus support for clips), without having to screen it in class or make a trip to the library for a reserve copy, and with no additional income for rights holders at that, is one that roils producers and distributors to no end. I believe the reasons for this are wrapped up not only in the previously mentioned issues, but also as a reflexive response to the distribution (ergo production) business models in this emerging digital environment.

An undercurrent to these concerns I've witnessed, especially put forth by certain players in the independent film/educational media field, is a kind of anachronistic belief about the context in which their films should be consumed (the traditional face-to-face physical classroom). Any evolution on the part of librarians/media specialists to make viewing more convenient for our users is often characterized as the enabling of a lazy or uncritical generation of students, the "I had to walk 10 miles up a hill barefoot in my day...." argument.

For my response, first I would like to state that I believe many of these business concerns are valid. I follow Paid Content like a religion and feel as though I have a decent grasp of the challenges confronting traditional media sectors. I am sympathetic to their challenges, and would like to see affordable digital business models emerge (e.g., higher ed should be charged the same public/high school rates for the same material). I will concede, without question, there are few "old" media businesses that have been unscathed by the digital environment (certain cable programmers (e.g., ESPN) and financial publishers (e.g., WSJ) outside of education; and certain commercial academic journal/textbook publishers and a few relatively large educational media companies within - mainly as a result of consolidation and greater fees paid by academic institutions and students).


That said, I'm in the business of education. My bottom line is student learning. To the anti-convenience folks, I put forth that several studies have suggested that hybrid learning can be as effective, if not more, than traditional classes. At a time when we have witnessed unprecedented demand for video (our circ. numbers increased 30% last year - though not all related to instruction), and still further growth projected ("Video Use in Higher Education"), the future potential for video is great.


As a media librarian, I am charged with the responsibility of adapting as teaching methods, course structures, and delivery channels emerge. In addition, beyond providing access, I would submit that as more faculty in more diverse disciplines integrate video into their courses, it is in part the responsibility of the media librarian, to advocate for the critical consumption of media (critical media literacy). For example, I see the value of critically evaluating film, as essential to increasing the quality of student-produced media, which Media Services also supports. When I meet with faculty now we discuss the types of video they show in class and ways in which they can support their students' learning by not only discussing the content but also the effectiveness of elements in the particular genre. Providing flexibility for students to study, discuss, and re purpose video (in a digital writing blog form perhaps) is key.

Being able to apply fair use interpretation for required viewing of films as a rationale for digitizing and streaming e-reserve video..if it were to stand up in court as a defence (should a challenge ever actually make it to a court room), would help lift one of the single greatest barriers (read: fears) librarians/media specialists face in being able to transform our collections to meet these emerging curricular needs. Until then, I will continue to investigate future possibilities, assess the effectiveness of our current experiments (such as serial cost, commercial streaming products), and advocate for more affordable pricing, and fair use practice on film.

Extra! Extra! DMCA Hearings - Get it While Its Hot!

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Just a heads up, the DMCA tri-annual hearings (section 1201) were held this past week beginning at Stanford and moving to Washington D.C. For most, this is hardly noteworthy, simple routine democracy in action. For media professionals, this is indeed dramatic theater, pointed out by Wendy Seltzer. UofM's own (Morris) Prof. Tisha Turk referred to as a "remix artist" also testified. A decision on DMCA exemption is expected from LOC Librarian, James Billington, by October, 28 2009. I am anxiously awaiting the ruling, as we deal with digital media copyright/fair use issues on a regular basis.

Using Copyright In the Classroom

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Back in November the Center for Social Media - which has provided many great resources on copyright in media - developed a guide for using media in the classroom. Here is a link to a Chronicles article and as well as the official report on "Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media-Literacy Education.".

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