Wes Fryer's website, Moving at the Speed of Creativity, offers fascinating insights on K-12 education and technology integration. It's one of the "must-read" blogs in our field. On January 11, Wes posted a fascinating article reflecting on a particular situation involving the misuse of media in the classroom. To his chagrin, Wes discovered that his son, who is a middle-school student, will be watching 10 popular children's films in his Leadership class. Films include Mulan, Toy Story 1 and 2, and the Bee Movie, among others. When the permission letter came home, authorizing parental permission for viewing full-length movies, Wes wondered about the issue, writing, "It seems like a GREAT idea for a teacher to use excerpts and clips from movies to illustrate leadership principles and concepts, but it does NOT seem legit to show ten full length DVD movies in class to ostensibly achieve this same purpose."
He invited his many readers to reflect on the legal and pedagogical issues involved, and asked "What Would Renee Hobbs Do?" How very flattering! Thanks, Wes! So here's my two cents:
Copyright and fair-use issues in schools are often poorly understood by educators. My most recent post about this, on 21 December 2009, was “Fair Use in Videos Using Pictures with Copyrighted Music.” In that post, I questioned the legality (under fair use provisions of U.S. copyright law) of using an entire copyrighted song for a web-posted slideshow video. In this post, I want to question the propriety and legality of using ten full-length movies in their entirety in a student leadership class taught in the United States, without explicit permission granted from the copyright holders. Use of full-length commercial DVDs definitely CAN qualify under fair use provisions of law in some cases, but TEN COMMERCIAL DVDs? I don’t think so.