Before I began this class I had a very limited knowledge of the copyright law, what I knew most were stories in which people have found themselves in legal trouble because of copyright infringement. One of the most vivid stories was one that hit home for me in which a teacher found herself in trouble because she reused recorded shows for her class each year. After hearing that story, almost three years ago, I was fearful to use any material not from creative commons. Now having the chance to learn about copyright and fair use (which I did not know about at all) from some of the leading voices on the matter, due to our course readings, I have a much better understanding of my rights and limitations.
While I found that the course readings took me through a roller coaster of opinions on the matter of copyright, in the end I came out with greater amount of knowledge on copyright and fair use. With that gained understanding, I can see the limitations copyright holds on creativity but I also see that fair use actually makes my previous ideas of those limitations more open then I have perceived. Most importantly I see that there does need to be a change in copyright, like Lessig states “changed, not abolished” (Lessig, p.253). The change needs to be one that strikes a balance, one that allows for creators to profit from their work as well as the room to create with passion and not apprehension.
Aufderheide and Jaszi’s book Reclaiming Fair Use was the one book that I connected with and learned from the most. They’re description on how to bring balance back to copyright really opened my eyes on how to make copyright work for everyone, and that’s with the use of Fair Use. Prior to the readings this term I had not known much about fair use, and it wasn’t until reading Aufderheirde and Jaszi’s book that I really gained a good understanding of the doctrine. I learned from my readings that while fair use was created to protect our first amendment right of free speech, media companies have tried hard and been quite successful in scaring people away from using the fair use doctrine. The fair use doctrine is broad and can be interpreted in different ways, but as Aufderheide and Jaszi pointed out in their book, codes of best practices have been significant help in bringing balance back to copyright. One of the problems though is that these codes of best practices are not yet well known, at least not in elementary schools. I agree with Aufderheide and Jaszi that an important aspect of reclaiming fair use is the development of codes of best practices created by those creating in their industry and spreading those codes of best practices out for others to use (p.127).
While fair use is a great and practical way to bring balance back in copyright, it too is limited. Therefore I agree with Lessig, although I am not sure when or if this will happen, that our copyright law needs to change in order to leave room for “amateur creativity, have a maintenance obligation for creators to have to renew their copyright protection after a certain amount of time, and simply to make the law much more simple so that creators of all ages can create and do so legally (p. 253-266).