Revolution Lullabye

May 31, 2009

Fisher et al, The Digital Learning Challenge: Obstacles to Educational Uses of Copyrighted Material in the Digital Age

Fisher, William, et al. “The Digital Learning Challenge: Obstacles to Educational Uses of Copyrighted Material in the Digital Age.” Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University. 9 August 2006. http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/publications/2006/The_Digital_Learning_Challenge.

This white paper explores how educational initiatives that use digital technology have been hampered or shut down due to copyright restrictions and common, usually conservative attitudes about  copyright regulations. After explaining some of the many challenges to using copyrighted digital technology in the classroom (TEACH Act restrictions, DRM technology, unclear fair use laws, costly rights or licenses, and cautious gatekeepers), they show how these challenges have specifically held up four different educational initiatives that they treat as case studies. The white paper concludes with some suggestions for reform, including opening up technology restrictions and access, developing educator best-practice guidelines that interpret fair use, and legal reform. The white paper is the end product of a year-long study with scholars, librarians, lawyers, and educators who investigated the relationship between education and copyright law.

Notable Notes

DRM – digital rights management (also TPM – technological protection measures) – technological encypting that allows manufacturers, publishers to control how their digital data is used, reproduced

case studies – 1. network for new history teachers to share lessons & materials (problem with the copyrighted works used in the creation of those lessons) 2. DRM technology interfering with how professors of film studies can use and select scenes from DVDs to screen in their classrooms 3. the creation of a database of American music (New World Records), subscribed to by libraries, meant to increase access and 4. new ways of distributing for public broadcasting stations don’t jive with their copyright allowances, which give them greater freedom to broadcast on TV

for digital technology to transform education, copyright law needs to be revisited.

different zones of the globe have different DRM encryptions so DVDs can’t be watched in other countries, allowing for movies to be released on DVD and in the theaters at the same time in different places.

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