Monday, April 13, 2009

High School Students and Copyright

In my time as an IT teacher I have seen many examples of students (and staff) infringing copyright. These infringements fall into three main groups. Piracy (software, movies or music), stealing ideas (in written work), stealing media (for Powerpoints etc.). I some ideas that I have been trying with students to help combat this, not sure if it is having a widespread impact but a few students have listened and changed their behaviour so it is working a little bit.

1) make students and staff aware that they are doing the wrong thing. Some students do not realise that getting copies of their favourite songs from a torrent site or their friends computer is actually against the law. When they are aware of this some of them change their behaviour.
2) set a good example. Many student have trouble believing that I don't use torrents for my music, however some are encouraged that it is possible to obey the law and have a good music collection. This also applies for software. If we use pirate software in our school computers how can we expect honesty from our students.
3) promote open source. By using and encouraging the use of open source software (eg open office, audacity, gimp) we are allowing students the opportunity to get software they want without braking the law.

Stealing Ideas
1) acknowledge all your sources. Teachers are permitted to copy and use a portion of a text etc. for educational purposes. By siting the source of this material we show students the habit of referencing. As part of a copyright audit in a school it must be done, so why not do it all the time.
2) teach an information literacy system eg PLUS Model or ISP form the NSW Department of Education and Training
3) don't write copy and paste assignments, If the students are required to think about a deep question, or are asked to create a non text artefact for their assignment then they will have to analyse the content and create their own meaning.

Stealing Media
1) Insist on Attribution, always reference the sources of your images in presentations is important not only so you can discourage copyright infringement but also so you can find the images again.
2) Set a good example, if you are making a presentation use only material that you have permission to use.
3) Use Creative Commons resources. These are resources that are available for the world to share, provided they attribute the author. I have published photos on Flickr with CC and one of them is now on a tourist website. Creative commons are a way for students to use images that they have permission to use. For more details see Smartcopying Australia

Well that is what I do, if you have any further ideas please post them in the comments for all to see.