Note to readers

This is a blog that I'm required to keep that's full of unedited, near stream-of-consciousness reactions to similarly required and related readings in a graduate course in N.C. State University's Communication, Rhetoric, and Digital Media program. The way these posts are written help me interrogate and understand what's going on in our readings. I'm identifying what's troublesome so that I can give it more thought, but the posts aren't written in a style that's productive for audiences outside of our class to read. That's by design. I start with contestation, then spend heavens only knows how long researching, recutting, and reevaluating so that I can try and see what potentially productive readings I can extract from these source for use in my own work's contributions back to the field. Comments encouraged, but please, you'll likely need a thick skin if your work is quoted here.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Using the proper licenses in your classroom

So let's take the obvious extension of last night's late night ramblings on Logie and readdress Logie's suggestions that we should be, "Securing written permission can be accomplished quickly with a blanket form distributed on the first day of class." Here's a slightly more informed suggestion...

Find an approved Open Source Initiative (OSI) [style] License to use in your class, and seize the learning opportunity to inform your students of the politics behind the decision to strongly encourage its use. A number of similar licenses for written works (versus software-based works like the ones the OSI licenses target) have been released by Creative Commons.

Without going into what the licenses say (the link above and here does a good job at that), it is useful to show students how US copyright law creates an interesting secondary audience for each of their compositions. Explain how reusing their works helps future students, students in the class, and, admittedly, yourself professionally. Explain what benefits there might be from having their content used in class (makes for an interesting line in the resume, perhaps?).

But most of all encourage students to critical interface with copyright and the issues your raise however they see fit within the constraints of teaching your course (ie, they will have to turn in works for you to grade, even if it's their right to keep them private!). And own the bias that you introduce; by discussing copyright, you're encouraging its use even while attempting to subvert it. Why do you encourage using copyright in a copyleft fashion? Is it expediency? Historical cultural sedimentation [which is essentially the same thing]?

But sure as heck don't reinforce culture's already painful push to have folks sign their rights away without reading what they're signing.

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