Friday, 11 August 2006

The Digital Learning Challenge: Obstacles to Educational Uses of Copyrighted Material in the Digital Age


This 117-page document

reports on a year-long study [snip] examining the relationship between copyright law and education. In particular, we wanted to explore whether innovative educational uses of digital technology were hampered by the restrictions of copyright. We found that provisions of copyright law concerning the educational use of copyrighted material, as well as the business and institutional structures shaped by that law, are among the most important obstacles to realizing the potential of digital technology in education.

Four case studies are included.

In the first, it is identified that when teachers are sharing resources, there may be a problem.
The act of distribution likely falls outside the scope of the educational use and fair use exceptions to liability. Thus, teachers who would be permitted to produce and use their own “do-it-yourself” digital teaching aids are not allowed to loan them to colleagues to use in their classrooms.
The result: a wealth of valuable, creative educational materials that could be used legally by the teachers who originally designed them will not benefit additional children in other schools.

In the second case study, in a film studies course,
The ability of teachers and students to view and critique excerpts of film – essentially, movie clips – is a fundamental building block of serious study in this area. One of the most common means for professors to teach students about film is to show a series of excerpts from different movies that illustrate a common point.
Digital technology should also enhance the ability for students to have access to clips for homework or other study outside of class, either online or through distributed DVDs. In fact, our research and interviews with film studies professors demonstrates that, for a combination of technological and legal reasons, the opposite has occurred. The DRM systems used on DVDs, and the restrictions of the DMCA, interfere with these educational uses of film content.

The third case study looks at the use of music in education.
A musical recording is protected by two separate copyrights, one for the underlying musical composition and another for the recording as a fixation of a specific performance of the music.

The clearance of these copyrights are a nightmare!

The last case study is about Public Broadcasting Service which relies on a set of special statutory provisions to allow PBS to create and boardcast education programs.
The public uses educational media quite differently today than it did when the 1976 Copyright Act was adopted. Despite the difficulties presented by the disconnect between the statute and technological realities, WGBH continues to move ahead delivering publicly beneficial programming, and using copyrighted content to do so. As in other case studies, however, copyright law and institutional practices surrounding it impede this educational mission rather than advancing it. WGBH believes that ultimately it is the public that suffers from the limitations public broadcasting producers face when using, or not using, copyrighted content in the digital learning resources.

Copyright and digital right management, strengthened by DCMA, are dragging the legs of advancement of the society.

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