Sunday, November 30, 2008

Perspective on my preparation: My "lightbulb" class

I am very excited to be nearing the beginning of my career as a librarian! I am equally saddened that I am nearing the end of the formal education process.

I have learned a tremendous amount in the last couple years in the program and am well prepared to continue learning on my own in the future. I have made great contacts and found (and learned how to find) great resources for continuing my education and research in the years to come.

The teacher who led me to start this blog for the class, Computer Applications in the School Library Media Center, has been the highlight of this education process! I’ve not asked her permission so I will not mention her name, but will complement her for teaching real world topics at the appropriate level for professionals entering a career defined by these topics.

Though incredibly satisfied with the totality of my education, I have, occasionally, suffered with ill prepared, unfocused, and antiquated adjunct professors and theory-heavy, practical-application-lacking tenured professors. Sadly I would estimate that half of my classes were not preparatory for the real world experience of school librarianship in the 21st century.

This class has force fed us many tools we will use in our libraries and will hopefully use to communicate with one-another and stay in touch with the library community. We have learned how to integrate technology into the curriculum, how to facilitate professional development, and how to teach Internet safety. We have debated real world copyright issues and, most recently, been shamed into updating our resumes.

The workload has been heavy; ridiculously so for those of us who strove to overachieve! Yet the takeaway has exceeded the effort!

I still have many weaknesses; some in areas that I feel should have been addressed in this program. To achieve my goals, I will need to continue the informal aspects of my education for years to come – as, I have learned, all high performing librarians do as a matter of habit and conscience. As we conclude this class, for the first time, I feel prepared to take on the role and responsibility of school library media specialist.

Readers please note that I am not bitter about any failings of this program but am in fact jubilant over its successes. If half of my classes were inadequate, then the other half, by definition, have been very good. I have long believed that the primary goal of the collegiate experience is to teach students how to learn and adapt so that they may succeed in their chosen profession. I know in my heart that this program has succeeded, because I now know how to learn and adapt in the arena of school librarianship in the 21st century.

I am prepared and excited and looking forward to the future!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Linking is legal !

Researching and writing about e-books, haunted by the Clevenger iceberg (another story for another day), my mind is still on the topic of embedded video in blogs. While it appears from my research that this is still an easy debate to argue from both sides, legal precedent seems to allow for this “linking” of video to private blogs and other Websites including MySpace and Facebook pages. Given the research I have done, which I will share below, I feel comfortable, at least for now, “linking” (read: embedding) videos, slideshows, and podcasts into this blog. I admit, my sources are primarily other blogs, but they appear knowledgeable and certainly involved in the debate. I welcome any comments or thoughts in agreement or disagreement regarding the legal or ethical considerations of embedded content in our blogs.

The Citizen Law Media Project explains that “linking to another website does not infringe the copyrights of that site, nor does it give rise to a likelihood of confusion necessary for a federal trademark infringement claim” ("Linking to Copyrighted," 2008). The article continues to describe that “deep linking,” linking to “a particular page within another site (i.e., other than its homepage)” has never been identified by a court as either copyright or trademark infringement. (“Linking”) While off topic, this is comforting information as I create my own directories of favorite links.

Though admitting “there is some uncertainty on this point” the article describes that inline linking or embedding, “placing a line of HTML on your site that so that your webpage displays content directly from another site,” when tried in a recent case in “the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals concluded that inline linking does not directly infringe copyright because no copy is made on the site providing the link; the link is just HTML code pointing to the image or other material. See Perfect 10, Inc. v. Google, Inc. , 508 F.3d 1146 (2007). Other courts may or may not follow this reasoning. However, the Ninth Circuit's decision is consistent with the majority of copyright linking cases which have found that linking, whether simple, deep, or inline, does not give rise to liability for copyright infringement. For discussion of these cases, see The Internet Law Treatise” (“Linking”).

“The situation changes when you knowingly link to works that clearly infringe somebody's copyright, like pirated music files or video clips of commercially distributed movies and music videos. In this situation, you might be liable for what is known as "contributory copyright infringement." Contributory copyright infringement occurs by "intentionally inducing or encouraging direct infringement" of a copyrighted work” (“Linking”). Fred vonLohman from the Electronic Frontier Foundation agrees that common sense to avoid commercially distributed media and to respect any rights published or indicated should protect bloggers from potential copyright violation when embedding content (“Linking,” 2008; vonLohman, 2007). On his Website, Christopher Heng points out that YouTube and most media hosting services offer users posting content the choice whether to “enable or disable the EMBED code for their videos. . . In theory, if the owner enables the EMBED code for others to use, it means that they” are willing and even pleased to have others embed their video (2008).


Bailey, J. (2007, December 20). Why I embed my images. In Plagiarism Today [PT blog]. Retrieved November 21, 2008, from‌2007/‌12/‌20/‌why-i-embed-my-images/

Heng, C. (2008). Is it okay to post YouTube videos on my website? (copyright question). In The site wizard. Retrieved November 21, 2008, from‌general/‌embed-youtube-video-copyright-matters.shtml

Howell, D. (2007, July 9). Embedding a headache. In Lawgarithms [blog]. Retrieved November 21, 2008, from‌Howell/‌?p=146

Linking to copyrighted materials. (2008, June 3). Citizen Law Media Project. Retrieved November 21, 2008, from‌legal-guide/‌linking-copyrighted-materials

Ross, P. (2008, November 12). Copyright in a free market. In Copyright Alliance [blog]. Retrieved November 21, 2008, from‌2008/‌11/‌copyright-in-a-free-market/

VonLohman, F. (2007, July 9). YouTube embedding and copyright. In Electronic Frontier Foundation [EFF DeepLinks Blog]. Retrieved November 21, 2008, from‌deeplinks/‌2007/‌07/‌youtube-embedding-and-copyright

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Where the rubber meets the road

In addition to, or partially in correlation with, my courseload, I am attempting to keep up with current library literature, including blogs of librarians in the trenches. In her blog, Wanderings, Jacquie Henry recently discussed difficulties with Website evaluation in cases when decisions are not clear-cut. She commented, "I am not working in a theoretical world. I am living right here in high school - where the rubber meets the road."

Her quote has stuck with me as I have dealt with issues in our library and as I discuss theoretical issues with other students and professors in my coursework. Our theories and ideals are great and worthy but is it fair to judge them without the temperance of real world application? More importantly, and with stronger motivation, how can we adapt our real world situations to meet the goals described by our theories and ideals?

This week we have discussed "Creativity - Copyright & Web 2.0" in class. Two particular issues come to mind from our discussions. In both, the theory makes complete and total sense and seems as though no other possible alternative could exist and yet, the reality is that students and teachers are not always receptive to our suggestions and teaching. It is this challenge that we must work to overcome.

Discussing creative uses and applications available on the Web including podcasting with Audacity, ability to create historic narrative videos through Primary Access, create photo or video, audio logs on VoiceThread, and more, the educational theories are easy to grasp. The reality, though, is the need to sell these technologies to our teachers in order for our students to realize the benefits. Much like a sporting event or theater ticket, the enjoyment is not accessed until the ticket is spent, or in this case, until the technology is used! To be successful we have to learn to market these technologies to teachers who may be receptive.

Coupled with our discussion about creativity was a discussion about copyright law and digital images. The legal alternative when creating content to be published is to use images in the public domain and to give credit to the creative individual or organization. We discussed the many ways to acquire images from government websites and through Creative Commons. In theory, this is a wonderful solution. In reality, the frustration is the difficulty of using multiple search databases to find government and Creative Commons images compared to the relative ease of image availability on the Web as a whole. To be successful, we have to teach students about the hazards of copyright law violation, how to use the tools available to find copyright free images, and how to avoid plagiarism through proper image citation.

It is important that we do our best, "where the rubber meets the road," to stay true to our ideals. It is just as important that we stay flexible and stay real regarding situations and the world around us. But, within that "real" framework, we must constantly strive to find ways to bridge the gap back to the theories and principles that guide us. These theories and principles tend to be not only legal and ethical, but also a solid foundation for the argument in favor of librarians in our schools - a critical issue as our governor threatens to cut school and library budgets yet again - a topic for another post . . .

Sunday, November 9, 2008

To embed or not to embed . . .

Last week I posted a video on this blog. I did so after reviewing many other blog sites, created by librarians and tech specialists, and seeing what I perceived to be many similar posts. Yet as I did so, involved in deep discussions and reflection about copyright law in my classes, I felt suddenly uncomfortable. Is posting media from other sources on your blog a violation of copyright (with or without appropriate source citation)?

A description of blogging in the book, Blogs Wikis, & Podcasts by Will Richardson suggests a distinct difference between blogging and journaling (simply creating a record of one's own experiences). Though he admits that blogs can be whatever you want them to be, he describes the best blogs as a conversation, a synthesis of information cultivated from many sources, yet only an ingredient in the larger scope. He strongly urges linking and reference to other blogs and websites in the development of a good blog. He does not discuss the posting of material from other blogs and websites in a blog but the inference seems to be that a blog should be a stepping-stone to other Web locations.

Looking at some of the media websites including YouTube, TeacherTube, SlideShare, and others, however, I discover that they all offer the address and coding information to embed specific media in other locations. Checking these sites and many of the other blogs I review, I note that almost all have links for RSS feed that can be displayed anywhere, on other websites or blogs. Embedding or feeding from these sites includes source information, giving appropriate credit but does not, of course, encourage the media to be viewed from its original source.

Continuing to review other blogs, I see lots of media referenced and displayed from one blog to another, borrowed from many different sources. I must admit, seeing media borrowed and displayed on blogs across the Web, and seeing blogs and various media feeds spread via RSS, I am somewhat desensitized to the issue of copyright on the Internet. It appears that media hosting sites encourage the spread of content into blogs and across the Web. I am concerned though, that "just because everyone else is doing it, doesn't make it right." Though I believe I am safe in sharing content on my blog, I am still not sure I know what the actual law is regarding this issue.

Questioned in class about school Acceptable Use Policies and copyright law this week, I am reminded that websites and blogs maintained by teachers (or even students) must obey copyright law. The statement within the AUP regarding this situation often is as simple as, users must obey all laws in use of school websites and technology or suffer the appropriate consequences.

At heart, a defender of copyright law, I understand the importance of respecting other's creations and property. Still confused about the law regarding media that seems to be available for public use, I do get frustrated by the masses of users who freely plagiarize and borrow media and other content with no effort to cite the original author. I find it mildly amusing that those of us who would be most likely to give others credit for the work they have done, are also the ones who will follow the law and not display the work out of context. Others, who often fail to give creative credit, will continue to cut and paste and use others work without remorse.

As an example, I encourage readers to check out the beautifully created representation of an iceberg on photographic artist Ralph A. Clevenger's site. The site has a copyright statement and may even be legally registered with the copyright office. The photo cannot be easily cut-&-pasted from this site. Confusingly, Brooks Institute, a photography school that Clevenger is affiliated with, displays the photo with a noticeable copyright by Clevenger printed right on the photo but also a claimed copyright by the institute on a mouseover.

Regardless of who owns the actual copyright or if, somehow, it has a dual copyright; this image is not in the public domain. Yet it very much is! Use your favorite image search engine to look for "iceberg" and page after page you will see his work displayed across the Web on blogs and Websites of all shapes and sizes. It is a beautiful and unique representation of the much larger, underwater mass, below the unassuming and picturesque, visible iceberg -- perhaps symbolic of the quantity of copyright violation hidden beneath the smaller body of properly authorized use of digital media.