Kendall Boninti is the Instructional Technology Specialist at Cambridge Rindge & Latin School in Cambridge, MA
Do you teach copyright and fair use to your students? I’m ashamed to admit it, but until a few years ago, I avoided copyright altogether… in my lessons, in my conversations. It just seemed like such a downer. A bunch of negative rules that restrict students' ability to do fun innovative things with music, media, and art. That was until Alida Hanson, the Library Teacher at Weston High School, recommended that I read the book Copyright Clarity: How Fair Use Supports Digital Learning by Renee Hobbs. The book was published a while back, but the information is still relevant today. Hobbs' book opened my eyes to how big media companies intentionally mislead educators into being ultraconservative in the way they practice and teach fair use and copyright. Have you ever seen or used one of those copyright checklists that lays out the “rules” of fair use (i.e. you can only use a certain percentage of a song or video)? Those checklists were often born out of agreements between media companies and assorted educator groups to intentionally limit students’ rights. Not surprisingly these agreements are not based in actual law (Hobbs, 29).