Threatened by Copyright

Image result for copyright iconCopyright statements are often created at the university level. For example, the following text is the Long Copyright Statement available from the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas:

Copyright laws and Fair Use policies protect the rights of those who have produced the material. Whether it be a book, a monograph, a photograph, a sound recording or an Internet web page, the owner/creator of that work has the right to be protected under the laws of copyright and fair use. Likewise, your work is protected under the law. Just as you cannot use copyrighted material without permission, somebody else cannot use your copyrighted material without your permission.

The University requires all members of the University Community to familiarize themselves and to follow copyright and fair use requirements. YOU ARE INDIVIDUALLY AND SOLELY RESPONSIBLE FOR VIOLATIONS OF COPYRIGHT AND FAIR USE LAWS. THE UNIVERSITY WILL NEITHER PROTECT NOR DEFEND YOU NOR ASSUME ANY RESPONSIBILITY FOR EMPLOYEE OR STUDENT VIOLATIONS OF COPYRIGHT AND FAIR  USE LAWS. Violations of copyright laws could subject you to federal and state civil penalties and criminal liability as well as disciplinary action under University policies. 1

Though copyright violations are undoubtedly serious offenses, the ALL CAPS text of the statement is unnecessarily threatening. Combine statements like these with the gray areas of Fair Use and long, complicated academic misconduct policies, and the results are a decidedly negative spin on the subject of intellectual property. Do not make a mistake when it comes to copyright… or else.

The ACRL Framework for information literacy recognizes this problem by stating:

The novice learner may struggle to understand the diverse values of information in an environment where “free” information and related services are plentiful and the concept of intellectual property is first encountered through rules of citation or warnings about plagiarism and copyright law. 2

To be fair, the above Long Copyright Statement from UNLV does mention that students also have the rights to their own copyrighted material, but do many students know that they are producing materials to which copyright applies?

Students do need instruction in copyright and intellectual property, but it would be a mistake to think of them as mere consumers of information. Many students are already creating multimedia, 3D models, and programming code. Some even have thousands of followers in online communities who appreciate their works. Their expertise in sharing content should be augmented by instruction which informs them about their rights as creators rather than threatening them with academic and legal consequences. Supporting student creators has the potential to stimulate new avenues of scholarly communication and produce individuals who are knowledgeable in the realm of intellectual property, taking that knowledge with them into their future professions.

  1. University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Office of the Executive Vice President & Provost. Long copyright statement, 2018. Retrieved from:
  2. ACRL, Framework for information literacy for higher education, 2016. Retrieved from:

ACRL Immersion

ACRL Immersion is a one-week long intensive training for those who teach in academic libraries. The 2018 Immersion program was completely re-designed to focus on critical reflective practice.

I didn’t really know anything about Immersion, but my manager was very enthusiastic and supportive of my attendance so I dove in. There was quite a bit of pre-work for Immersion: interviews, readings, and self-assessment quizzes. The range of the assignments was broad and I definitely didn’t know what I was getting into when I arrived at St. Thomas University in St. Paul for my week of becoming immersed in critical reflective practice and pedagogy.

But through a week of workshops, writing, and using a lot of craft supplies, something slowly began to build. That something was a plan. Really… a design, not just for the instructional challenges that had brought me to Immersion, but for my career, supported by personal reflection, conceptual models, and the new community of practice that I had built. It was truly a transformative experience that has changed the way that I look at my goals.

It took a lot of patience and work, but I would recommend taking the leap.

Three Minute Self Portrait

Today I am taking part in the Creative Assignments Faculty Institute at Lied Library as one of the presenters. This two-day event allows instructors to participate in workshops which focus on creating assignments which are not a research paper. The workshops include data visualization, oral history, service learning, Wikipedia editing, and my own workshop; smartphone video creation. Over coffee and pastries, one of the facilitators had us participate in the least obnoxious icebreaker I’ve ever tried. It was actually a lot of fun and I am definitely going to try it out at one of my own workshops.

It is the Three Minute Self Portrait. Here’s how it works:

File_002Participants are given three minutes to create doodles that represent them. For this event, we were asked to create doodles which describe our personal life, subject area, and teaching philosophy. Overachievers were welcomed to include an actual self-portrait. I am, of course, an overachiever. I sketched a headset with microphone for my personal life because I am an avid gamer and spend a lot of time online. For my subject area, I drew a pot of soup. I feel like it’s my job to dip into the pot of emerging technology to see what can be useful for learning. I also drew a very crooked Nike swoosh to represent my teaching philosophy. Since I show people how to use tools, I usually take a “Just Do It” approach to learning.

What would your doodles be?