Copyright in education

When I first thought of putting together a Copyright webinar and training material for our Gooseberry Gurus, I was under the impression that I would struggle to talk for 30 minutes.  I even contemplated adding information about Fake News to try and pad things out.  All I can say is that I had no idea how complex the copyright laws were! 

I then started to ask my son about his awareness of the legal aspects of using songs on YouTube videos.  He had no idea, and I don’t think that he is any different from most children.  It seems to me that it is important that we educate children about this, both so that they appreciate the reason these laws exist and so that they don’t fall foul of the law.    My son is a keen scooter rider and his whole group love to create videos of their days out at skate parks.  He was pleased to know that he owns the copyright in any videos that he creates and that he could potentially stop other people using them.  Understanding that the law can benefit him gives him an understanding of why the law is there to protect others, especially professional singers, film makers etc who spend significant sums creating entertainment for us, protected by the ability to reap the financial reward.  Piracy is quite a big problem for them and there are serious penalties for those who break the law. 

Most young people are either watching or creating content on service providers such as YouTube.  I suspect quite a lot of them unwittingly breach the copyright laws and get caught out by the ‘Content ID’ software which scans uploaded content against a database of files in order to identify copyright material.  If identified, the copyright owner is notified and can choose whether to Block, monetise or track the upload.  If a user is regularly breaching copyright it could affect their reputation and potentially lead to prosecution.

There is an opportunity for schools to use video production as part of lessons.  Look at our Gooseberry Alert suggestion that children research an aspect of copyright law and produce a video about it.  Why not encourage the children to identify their creations with the date and copyright symbol and upload them to YouTube or another platform. 

The next issue is, do you and your staff know the laws?  (On the 25th March we have a webinar covering this area and if you are a Gooseberry Guru you get the link to share with your school community.)    Learn about the “fair use” exceptions for private study, research, reporting current events and creating parody.  Learn about the special provisions for educational establishments and how to get permission to use copyright materials.

Copyright is not specifically mentioned in the Computing Curriculum, or in PSHE, but it does come under the UKCISS Framework.  I feel that if a child could potentially get a fine or criminal record for doing something that many young people do, surely, we should be educating them about it.  It also ties neatly into a discussion about plagiarism in school work – perhaps not such a big issue in primary school but a real issue in secondary and at university.