A Teachable Moment about Copyright from the SFWA
Thanks to the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, I now have a terrific “teachable moment” when I start school on Tuesday. When my students ask me what I did on my summer vacation I can tell them I was accused of violating copyright and learned all about the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the SFWA and counter-notifications. I can tell them the reading list I just handed them is Internet contraband. I can tell them the president of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America personally apologized to me on my blog.
I’ve been teaching my students about copyright for years, but now I have a personal experience to help make it real. If you’re an educator who teaches students about copyright, this would make a great story to use in your class, too. It’s controversial, it’s got two sides, and it’s on the cutting edge of law and ethics.
Here’s my time line of the situation:
August 27, 2007–I write this post about an email I received from Scribd:
August 28, 2007–The editors of Ray Gun Revival write their own post about how the back issues of their magazine were removed from Scribd:
August 30, 2007–Science fiction writer (and member of the SFWA) Cory Doctorow writes a terrific article about the issue on Boing Boing, the second most-linked-to-blog in the world:
Also on August 30–Michael Capobianco, SFWA president, begins leaving comments on blogs, apologizing for the erroneous DMCA notices.
August 31, 2007–Ars Technica, another top ten blog, has this to say:
August 31, 2007–Michael Capobianco, SFWA president, issues this statement on the SFWA web site:
September 1, 2007–Fred von Lohmann, Senior Intellectual Property Attorney for Scribd, sends the following letter to SFWA Vice President Dr. Andrew Burt:
**Update September 3, 2007–The SWFA Board passes a motion to disband the ePiracy Committee:
**Update September 11, 2007–Scribd president Jared Friedman re-enables my list of 300+ Recommended Books for Junior High Students after not hearing back from the SFWA about my counter-notification.
I’ll continue to update this time line as new developments occur.
If you decide to share this with your students, here are some more copyright resources:
- A fantastic ten-lesson unit for junior high students for creating public service announcements on copyright awareness from ReadWriteThink.org and the National Council of Teachers of English
- An overview of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act from the UCLA Online Institute for Cyberspace Law and Policy
- Text of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act on Wikisource
- A Crash Course in Copyright from the University of Texas System
- A somewhat dated but still useful guide to Fair Use and Copyright for Teachers from Cathy Newsome