Copyright laws are an ever-growing issue in our world today. It is especially important for teachers to follow these laws. Lessons offer numerous opportunities for teachers to violate copyright laws if they are not careful and well-informed.
I learned a lot in my recent exploration of copyright laws. Copyrights protect the original work of the inventor of a product. The inventor must apply to have their product copyrighted. Once a copyright is attained, it will last for a lifetime plus an additional 70 years. Copyrights can come into effect, even in a classroom setting. It is technically illegal for a teacher to use copyrighted material (such as videos, movies, or other original works) in lessons. There is a clause in copyright laws for "fair use," which allows teachers to use copyrighted material as long as they can make the argument that they only used the minimum amount of the copyrighted material that was necessary. One aspect of copyright laws that really surprised me was the ambiguity of the laws. Similar copyright cases that have been taken to court have received different rulings based on different interpretations of the laws.
I have seen copyright laws violated in the classroom before. I have seen teachers use videos, movies, and images in their lessons year after year without having any type of license for to use them. Outside of the classroom, I have been aware of countless numbers of people who have downloaded music for free off of the Internet. Although the music downloading is a more publicized type of copyright violation, both are still illegal.
As a teacher, I think it is important to make students aware of copyright laws. We have increasingly less privacy in this information age and law violations are becoming easier to uncover. The future will certainly see increasing numbers of copyright violation accusations. A teacher can help students understand copyright laws without taking too much time out of the class period. Teachers should do their best to follow copyright procedures and explain to their students how and why they are doing so. For example, if a teacher obtains a license to show a movie in their class, they could take a minute to explain why it is important to have a license for showing a movie in school, how to do it, and what the consequences might be.