Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Tool # 3.3 Copyright and Fair Use

Texaco had an exploration and production research lab where I worked for 20 years. Like all good labs there was a library, with three M.S. and one PhD librarians. We had a century of bound journals, and any book we might want (big oil has big bucks).  When I wanted to write a report about some region or oilfield, I would go look up the articles in an index, retrieve the bound volumes, and photocopy the 10 or 20 articles (2-30 pp. each), take them back to my office, read them, use them, write the report, and file them in case more work was required, or in case someone wanted the source material as a follow-on.  All of this was considered Fair Use by Texaco, and by all the other oil companies, too.  After all, it was Research!

In the late '80s we got taken to court over fair use, and the upshot was that our research was for our profit, not for the greater good of the masses, so it was not fair use.  The fine being $200 per page of illegal copying (it's probably more now), Texaco settled for an undisclosed sum, and we started logging all our copies - make an extra copy of the title page and post who, what, how many, etc. on the back; these were submitted to a clearing house who collected royalties from us and disbursed them to the owners, wholesale.

People, this is a very big deal.

The problem for us is that we think "it's for EDUCASHUN, PUBLIC EDUCASHUN, our kids NEEEED it.

I expect we will get in trouble first with our brethren edumacators who have become consultants and make a living off of the content they provide.  I expect big text publishers (Pearson, McGraw) will be right behind them for all of that content they provide, just as soon as our subscriptions run out.

We will need to make sure that when we clone material on 4, 8, 16 iPADs or notebooks, we have license to do so for the correct number of devices.
SBISD has a list of software that is available district-wide, building wide, etc., but be careful - my "building license" for RobotC is only good for one class of computers (20? 30?), not every computer in the building.

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