On July 27, the Library of Congress gave American educators the best back-to-school gift EVER. Better than any orchard-fresh apple or floral bouquet.
Under the newest revisions to the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA), it’s now considered a-okay to burn DVDs for educational or noncommercial use, which ranges in purpose from research to news reporting.
Among the five other new exemptions, it’s also now 100% legitimate to jailbreak the iPhone. Yet while that’s been plastered all over the news, why has the academic impact garnered so much less media attention?
Most educators have long assumed that the Fair Use clause which applies to publications would likewise apply to DVDs, and other new forms of digital media. Thus, the sentiment across the educational community is frustration with the federal government for failing to address rapidly emerging technologies, such as streamable and downloadable Internet video.
At Emerson College, where the Journalism Department uses SnapStream, the new copyright exemption is not going to dramatically change the way courses are taught, according to Assistant Journalism Professor Paul Niwa.
“However, the change to the DMCA [does] lift the burden of hypocrisy in the classroom,” Niwa commented in an e-mail.
“It has been uncomfortable for professors to try to convince students to respect copyrights while violating copyrights every time they show a DVD in class.” – Asst. Journalism Professor Paul Niwa, Emerson College
How it Plays Out with SnapStream
As you may know, SnapStream enables not only TV search and clipping, but also DVD burning of recorded televised content. Some professors and teachers like to archive and share files with hard copies, even with the options available for electronic storage and e-mail.
Up until now, this whole matter has openly resided in the “grey area” of copyright law. As the dreamers and makers, we have always put trust in our end-users to do the right thing, to harness our TV Search technology for good, under Fair Use and not Abuse.
But just to make sure no one is ripping movies to enhance a personal DVD collection, we do have tight administrative settings in place to limit and restrict user access to specific features.
In the Future
Looking ahead three years to the next official review cycle of the DMCA, Niwa says that his colleagues will proceed teaching with their best judgment.
“This year’s revision of the DMCA is a missed opportunity to encourage vibrant conversations between citizens about art, ideas and science,” Niwa expressed.
“In the meantime, citizens will continue to connect and create content without explicitly defined copyright protection.”