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Copyright for Multimedia - Review of Weeks 1-2

Monday, May 22, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: CCUMC Executive Office
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I have finished the first half of Copyright for Multimedia! As noted in my last post, this course is a sequel of sorts to the one I took and wrote about last year called Copyright for Educators & Librarians. Week 1 provides a very quick review of the material in the first course and re-introduces the five-question framework that was one of my favorite aspects of it. It also contains a module on data which consists of two videos twelve minutes in length and four readings which I estimate would take approximately 45 minutes to complete, far more than the 10 promised by Coursera! The most interesting thing to me about Week 1 was the assertion by the instructors that pie charts and bar graphs are likely protected by copyright even though the data they present is not, “because of the original selection and arrangement of the data that they represent.” This largely contradicts the conclusions made by Bobby Glushko in an article called “Copyrightability of Tables, Charts, and Graphs,” which can be found in the University of Michigan’s Deep Blue repository, which I’ve been relying on for the past few years. I’ll have to think longer on which argument I find more persuasive; in the meantime, Professors Smith, Macklin, and Gilliland are right that it might be easier to just create an original chart or graph from the raw data whenever it’s available.


Week 2 tackles the subject of images in four lessons which consist of nine videos totaling 49 minutes in length and five readings which I estimate would take approximately 30 minutes to complete. Most of this material is again a review of the earlier course. The most significant additions are a discussion of VARA, the Visual Artists Rights Act, implied licenses (the reason why you’re not violating copyright when you use Facebook’s “share” button to reproduce a friend’s photograph) and the non-copyright right to privacy that photographs in particular need to be familiar with. It also includes a link to the WATCH (Writers Artists and Their Copyright Holders) and FOB (Firms Out of Business) databases, two extremely useful resources for identifying copyright ownership that I wasn’t previously familiar with.


My overall impression is that this course is an ideal review of the material in the first one I took: because of the high percentage of overlapping material, it probably shouldn’t be taken right away, and it’s not yet clear that it has a ton of value as a standalone resource. Images are a lot less complicated than music and audio (the subject of Week 3) or film and video (Week 4), though, so we’ll see!

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