Sunday, April 17, 2011

Copyright -- Are you really modeling the law?

© is the copyright symbol in a copyright noticeImage via WikipediaI am certainly no copyright expert but I do have a knowledgeable friend that I consider the "Copyright Queen!" (Love you, Diana!) Regardless, I'm becoming more concerned with the copyright violations not of students, but of educators. The professionals who are to be modeling academic honesty are often prone to "let it slide" if the circumstances arise or because they feel it has "always been done that way."

Now, to be clear, I am not guiltless. When I taught Math, I showed "Stand and Deliver" yearly to my Algebra students in El Paso. I shouldn't have. It was a copyright violation. I want to say that was before we were so knowledgeable and there might be some truth to that but as they say "ignorance is not a defense."

So, the truth is that we should not be showing movies in class without permission from the owners of the copyright. Period. When we do, we send a message to the students that it is acceptable to steal. There really is no other way around this harsh reality. It is what it is.

Now, sometimes, this is difficult when your school neighbor is catching up with grades while showing a captivating movie they've brought from home, I'll grant you that. But, it still is wrong. And, the real crime is the message being sent to the students, which is that it is sometimes o.k. to break the law and to steal from another. Of course, we know it's not o.k. but isn't everyone doing it?

Unfortunately, yes, there are many educators that are continuing this practice. That just makes it more wrong in my humble opinion. It really is time for educators to come together and stop contributing to this mindset. If only for one voice, it really is time to stop and say "Not me, not this time."

So many of us have the poster on our wall that reads something like "What is popular is not always right, what is right is not always popular." Consider being the person who doesn't give in to the "show a movie" temptation that usually follows TAKS. Don't send the kids that message.
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