Educators. Students. Community members. Much more unites us than divides us, particularly knowing we all wear multiple hats. Building relationships. Thinking BIG.
Challenging and supporting one another. Developing engaged, empathetic citizens. Please join me in pondering how best to nurture these common ground connections.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Building an Ecology of Freedom—The Importance of Fair Use

It has been ages since I've published a new post. Suffice it to say, other, more important life events have required me to revert back into some old, instinctual teaching habits the last couple months. And I have felt terribly absent as a contributing member of my PLN. But, I have continued to devour the ideas being shared and thought now was as good a time as any to get back into the groove!

I just watched Lawrence Lessig's TedxNYED talk entitled Re-examining the Remix. I thought it was quite compelling. I believe I was particularly drawn to this talk for two reasons.

1) I am intrigued by the notion of "Building an Ecology of Freedom." Developing a constructive community is the foundation of my classroom, and in doing so, my students and I practice and investigate dozens of methods of social interactions. This includes "remixing" as a form of personal expression. Lessig showed a video of Julian Sanchez stating, "Copyright policy isn't just about how to incentivize the production of a certain kind of artistic commodity; it's about what level of control we're going to permit to be exercised over our social realities." This got me thinking about how important and relevant "fair use," the freedom to create and remix, is to my teaching practice. And my head is still spinning.

2) I believe I'm also drawn to this topic for personal reasons. My husband, Spiro Bolos, works quite extensively on copyright and fair use, presenting at regional and national conferences, including CUE this past spring. I happen to find his explanations and stories exceptionally relevant to the teaching community as a whole. He not only quotes Lessig (I believe), but is working with Renee Hobbes this summer, as well. (Here is a version of his presentation.) Having heard Spiro's talks, I was quite surprised at Lessig's angle of describing the conservative politicians to be the Fair Use Crusaders. I don't know why; I guess I assumed that since I agreed with my husband's thoughts, and Lessig's, that liberals would be crowned with that title. Live and learn! (But I'm certainly interested in hearing other experts' opinions. Do most agree with Lessig's perspective?)

I found the following statements from Lessig's talk to be incredibly important as the fight to "Build an Ecology of Freedom" continues, regardless of who is leading the charge.

"Freedom needs this opportunity to have BOTH the commercial success of the great creative works AND the opportunity to build this (ecology of freedom) type of culture. And for that to happen you need ideas like fair use to be central and protected…"

"Walt Disney was a remixer extrataordinaire."

"Our lives are sharing activites. And for sharing to exist, we need well-protected spaces of fair use."

"The ecology of sharing needs freedom from within to create. And we need to respect the creator."

I would have to work exceptionally hard to even be considered a novice in understanding Fair Use. But I am developing a greater appreciation for the social and professional necessity of learning about it, and fighting for it. So, do I vote Republican in November? ;-)