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Digital Learning and the Fair Use of Web 2.0 Texts and Technologies

Join us at the 4CCCC's conference in San Francisco to explore how copyright affects composition practices. Digital media create new opportunities for sharing of materials, including print, visual, digital, and mass media and popular culture texts. But what's OK to share? How can writers use copyrighted visual and digital materials in their own work? What are the ethical, legal and pedagogical issues involved?

Teachers and students are currently confronted with conflicting information about copyright and fair use from various sources, and there are important legal and ethical issues when copyrighted digital materials are used as part of the process of teaching composition. This panel will include discussion of a Best Practices in Fair Use model for educators, an overview of fair use as it applies to digital composition, a discussion of the practice of copyright, permissions and fair use in textbook publishing, and an exploration of remix as a form of composition. This panel will extend participants’ understanding how copyright and fair use can enhance our educational practices and strengthen our ability to use digital media in the context of teaching composition.

Renee Hobbs recently conducted research to clarify the rights and responsibilities of media literacy educators under the fair use doctrine. Under the philosophy that creative communities need to come to their own clearly articulated consensus (or “best practices”) about what is fair and reasonable under the law, she and her colleagues created the Statement of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literacy Educators. In her research, the speaker found that media literacy educators who remix and reuse copyrighted materials from the Internet value the concept of transformativeness. Transformativeness is evident in the process of adding value to or repurposing texts. Teachers can transform texts through the selection, sequencing and arrangement of texts, as when a teacher selects a series of text excerpts (in print, visual or multimedia forms) for teaching about a particular topic or issue. Transformativeness is also apparent when new works, created by teachers or students, use texts in ways where the new work communicates a thesis statement that is not found in text itself.

Educators need to share print, visual and multimedia texts and instructional methods with other teachers. We need to be able to display and publish texts as part of professional development, scholarship and creative work in the development of educational materials. We also need to be able to share excerpts of texts on a limited basis to individuals or small groups of students, colleagues or other educators. Such sharing should be clearly framed within an educational context. Samples of student work can be shared as a means to elucidate aspects of the teaching and learning process. Currently, many educators fear sharing lesson plans and student work online because of potential copyright implications. The Statement of Best Practices helps educators be more knowledgeable and more confident in how their educational use of print, visual texts and multimedia fits within the provisions of the fair use doctrine.

Having completed a two year study of over 300 digital composers, Martine Courant Rife outlines some of the major findings of this research. She examined how knowledge and understanding of fair use influenced the composing choices of digital writers. Speaker 2 found that writers’ speech was not chilled, that ethical considerations trumped legal considerations, and that the intertextuality of web-space-writing supports Foucault’s theory that the “single author” is an ideological production representing the opposite of its historical function in the larger culture. Finally, what these digital writers lacked in copyright know-how, they made up in enthusiasm for learning more. Overwhelmingly the study participants were interested in increasing their knowledge and understanding of fair use. The speaker discusses implications for next steps subsequent to the study’s findings.

William Costanzo examines the shifts underway as more teaching and learning takes place online, with English teachers integrating multimedia into their courses. Our profession needs to understand the challenges we face from evolving new media, ever-tightening legal constraints, and changing student attitudes about source materials. How can we include media in our classes and our Web sites without exceeding boundaries of fair use? How can our students include digital text, images, video clips, and other material from the Internet in their work without being liable for academic theft?

As the author of a multimodal composition textbook, Costanzo struggled with permissions to use both print and media materials. He will speak about the problems that teachers, writers, and publishers encounter when these materials migrate from their original forms in print and broadcast media to DVDs and the Web. As an English teacher who has used films and other media in his classes for many years, he also struggles daily with issues of fair use, copyright, pirating, and plagiarism. He will address these important issues in an interactive exchange with the panel and audience.

Michael RobbGrieco will discuss the use of digital remix practices as a tool for composition. Reviewing the educational affordances of remix as a tool to build critical thinking and communication skills, RobbGrieco will demonstrate specific lesson plans and activities to show how remix activities can help students appreciate concepts including audience, representation, tone, voice, agency, purpose and point of view. Sequencing and juxtaposition are foundational skills in remix practice and can help young writers consider how to compose and manipulate ideas for self-expression, advocacy and the accomplishment of specific communicative goals.

ParticipantAffiliationSpeech Title (if known)
Renee Hobbs
Temple University  
Renee Hobbs

Temple University Best Practices for Fair Use in Multimedia Composition
Martine Courant Rife

Michigan State University and Lansing Community Co : Free Expression, Fair Use, and Foucault’s “Author-Function”: How Important is Copyright Law to Digital Composers?
William Costanzo

Westchester Community College Fair Use or Fair Game? An Author/Teacher/Student’s View of Copyright
Michael Robb Grieco

Temple University Remix as Composition