Online Rights and Safety


Larry Lessig: How Creativity is Being Strangled by the Law presented at TED. 19 minutes.

We take it for granted that copyright serves to protect our work, to ensure we receive proper credit and to compensate us for our labors. Larry Lessig, lawyer, activist, professor and founder of Stanford University’s Center for Internet and Society paints a rather different picture of U.S. copyright laws and their impact on creativity, especially with regard to our children. Clearly, existing copyright laws struggle to address this relatively new medium, especially with regard to educational fair use (and quite a few would argue, rather poorly) and the ease with which many of us can and do create, (re)mix and mash up digital content. The Creative Commons was a direct response to the perceived inflexibility and complexity of existing copyright laws.

So where are we heading? Vicki Davis over at Cool Cat Teacher Blog recently posted on What the best colleges are doing about Open Access and while it does seem that institutional change is occurring, Vicki draws our attention to a very important and often overlooked constituency—students, including graduate students and the work they produce. Josh brought this up in our discussion this last week. What do you think? Does affixing a Creative Commons license to your work give you control over your work and how it is used and attributed?

One could well argue that the two articles, “The Online Amplification Effect” by Margaret Soltan, and “Admissions of Guilt” by Terry Calhoun are sobering reminders of the unforeseen and unintended consequences of our increasingly transparent and readily accessible online lives. Will Dick Hardt’s Identity 2.0 and Claim ID be part of the solution? Aside from becoming an Internet hermit—if that’s even possible now—what should we be doing? What should we be modeling for our students?

I’m looking forward to checking in on your discussions from Orlando : ). See you in December.

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7 Responses to “Online Rights and Safety”

  1. Jessica McBride Says:

    I think this is a really interesting topic of discussion, and I have to admit that I probably wouldn’t have considered the issue of copyrights and ownership under the same umbrella as personal information being available online and used in official situations. I kind of considered them distinct issues before reading this post question, just because the type of user generated content that Larry Lessig discussed in his presentation seems to be done so with the intention of being seen by a large audience. The example in Terry Calhoun’s article “Admissions of Guilt” where a student is trying to drop a class based on health and personal issues but is denied this because his teacher discovered his status as a “hard partyer” on Google seems comparable in some ways but very different in others. The user generated content discussed in Calhoun’s example was meant to be seen by only a target audience, however this doesn’t make it any less public.

    I don’t really have any answers for this problem, because to be honest I’m not sure how I feel about it yet. I can’t help but think on the one hand that there needs to be balance, as Lessig mentioned, in terms of copyright infringement. If I write an article, I want to have some say over how it is used. However, I want as many people to have access to it as possible. As for personal information finding its way into official decisions, I feel like this is a breech of a candidate’s privacy that wasn’t really an issue even 5 or so years ago. However if you decide to make something even partially public that you wouldn’t want an employer or an institution of higher education to see, shouldn’t you have to deal with the consequences? I’m just not sure!

  2. nmcclure17 Says:

    In response to Terry Calhoun’s article, I feel like this conversation is really getting at accountability. The issue seems to be that people want to live in a public sphere, but still have a private life. I don’t think that’s possible anymore and that’s okay. If you are going to create myriad online profiles, then you need to reconcile with the idea that people (of all kinds) might see said profile. The moment you post something online, it is NOT a matter of privacy anymore and that has to be understood. There is a big difference between my embarrassment at photos from an awkward party and someone sneaking into my office and rummaging through my files. Simple rule – don’t post anything to the web that you would not want others to see.

    Turning to Margaret Soltan’s concerns about “amplification,” what she is describing is a bad public relations decision which ultimately has less to do with the nature of the internet than it does the internal dynamics of a university. The UT incident was bad and would have been discussed at length no matter what form of communication happens to be dominant. Yes, the web makes things much faster, but I think we should look toward the positives in such a scandal on the web. Let’s say I am a student getting ready to apply to a school like UT. I am rather happy that I have access to info like the scandalous plagiarizing fraud professor. Again – we return to accountability. UT may whine that it received undeserved attention for the mess, but let’s remember that it was UT that hired the professor and ultimately created the mess. Not the internet.

    Lastly, there is copyright…sigh. Sigh, sigh, sigh. Sigh. Grrrr. Film studies is bogged down by this nonsense all the time, particularly the lame lack of particularities and the overabundance of vague generalizations of the Fair Use Act. I am constantly banging my head against a “proverbial” wall trying to sort out region regulations and licensing. I don’t know what to say about copyright because even the copyright writers don’t know how to interpret their own jibberish. As for the effect of the digital age, I am excited that the speed and open source possiblities are going to continue to challenge the laws. Grrr. The whole thing gives me a headache!

  3. wltung Says:

    The topic of “copyrights” this week includes too many complicated issues. After reading the articles and the presentation of Larry Lessig, I am more interested in his idea of “technology makes things different” and his ideal to try to find a “balanced solution” between law and technical creativity. I watched the video clip more than five times; I feel Professor Lessig clearly points out the gap and contradictory between the law and creativity in this current digital generation. The law cannot catch up the speed and change of technology to enhance culture development and education, and what’s worse, it becomes a tool to “strangle creativity”, which will obviously limit our culture development and education. Due to the existing copyright law’s inflexibility, all the creativity with the digital technology will possible become illegal and piratical. Therefore, I think it is important and necessary to solve all these problems by wisdom. Then, I feel happy to learn that the idea of “Creative Commons.” I think the idea itself is a wonderful creative work.

    Comparing with the traditional copyright law, the Creative Common licenses seem a great alternative which more flexibly allows copyright holders to grant some or all of their rights to public while retaining others through a licensing and contract schemes. The sophisticated design of Creative Commonshelps to reach its goal to increase access and share intellectual property. Users just need to know clearly about what is permissible, and then they can remix, copy, distribute, and repurpose content. By this way, Creative Commons invites more people to use and encourage sharing contents that benefit everyone. And so far, we can see some successful projects in higher education’s learning materials attaching Creative Commons licenses to their content like MIT’s project. Though there is still “gray area”, but I feel it at least solve some problems of traditional copyright law and reach its goal to encourage faculty and students to incorporate a wide range of resources in their teaching and learning.

  4. wltung Says:

    As regards the privacy and security online safety, I think Identity 2.0 can provide more help than most of today’s identity systems. Though it is the first time I learn what Identity 2.0 is, I feel that the functions of Identity 2.0, provide many advantages such as (1) it focuses around the user, not centers around a directory. (2) it allows users to use one ID that is transparent and more flexible.(2) it provides more traceable transactions since it required identified transactions between users and agents using verifiable data, which seems saver and will lead to compromised privacy and security. (3) Users just need offer verifiable but unlinkable data via anonymous digital credentials, which will help build up trust. According to all the concepts above, it is reasonable to accept Identity 2.0 as a revolution of identity verification on the internet. However, I do not have enough technical knowledge to now if it will cause any other security problems? Or will it be safe enough to solve the identity problem of current identity system on the internet? I hope we can have some discussion toward this issue.

    And as for Terry Calhoun’a article “Admission of Guilt”, he reminds us the serious consequences of the opened accessible online life. I agree with Nicole’s idea that one should be cautious to post the message online. Since the online world is increasingly accessible and transparent, do not post anything related to your privacy,; otherwise things happen quickly and spread efficiently. I may remind my students the experience I have learned from Terry Calhouna’s article. So far, according to my observation, I have not found any unsuitable stuff they have posted. I feel they still use Facebook in a very healthy and sophisticated way.

  5. wessam101 Says:

    I recall a situation in my second methodology class. We had to write a reflection paper after reading an article. I read the article along with surfing the web for better understanding for the topic. I included the information I gathered for this reflection paper and I hand it in to the teacher but I didn’t pay attention to submit the resources paper. The teacher had a meeting with me stressing on the topic of “ Fraud and copy right” that I never took into account that seriously before. Now things make sense after reading Digital Millennium Act: An Overview by the UCLA Online Institute for Cyperspace Law and Policy. I was shocked when I was reading it, as I didn’t know that it is that serious having the Congress and the President of the country to pass this law for intellectual property and copyright. However, it sounds ridiculous for me when you can use the work of somebody only 70 years after his death. It is a very complicated issue especially for this and the coming generations who are brought up and raised using re (mix) a lot in their lives. It is more of, as mentioned in Larry Lessing’s video, tools of speech for them and how they use it to speak and express themselves. In addition, it is complicated in the sense of having two extremes. The first one is the one who follows the law opposing to the one who uses back doors to break it and being proud of that.

    I really liked what was mentioned in Cool Cat Teacher Blog, which recently posted on What the best colleges are doing about Open Access stating the fact that open access can increase the creator’s personal brand and the his/her reputation in the field in case if it is a good work of course. I think, open access can also increase the reputation of the school and attract more students when they hear about it and hear about its scholars’ work being published and read by many other scholars or students. It is not loss by any means for these schools. It is a win-win game. However, we cannot disregard the students either graduate or undergraduates and confiscate it to the school property. I also read about the deletion of the students’ videos from Youtube, on what the best colleges are doing about Open Access, which is a more of a punishment for them not following the copyright issue. When I thought about it for a second, the teacher’s role, as a guide, came up to my mind, which is something we should think about, right!!

  6. wessam101 Says:

    After all this hassle and struggle with traditional copyright and intellectual property issue, Creative Commons comes as a mediator between the two extremes mentioned before. Creative Commons gives more space for everyone to use photos, videos, songs, and so for and so forth using different techniques to create their own work. The issue here is not with the techniques they use. These techniques have been democratized, as mentioned in Larry Lessing’s video. I believe that Creative Commons comes as a solution leading to collaborative work, increasing the professional stature, and provide a climate of openness and sharing. This kind of healthy climate can lead to even more creative production that will do well for everyone. Why would we put all these restrictions on a work that might be a source of inspiration to another good one? Why would we corner those who want to create things or improve others work with new ideas and call them “ trespasser”? And again, it increases the good reputation of the creator when others use it and remix or develop it. His rights are still reserved but in a different form that satisfies both sides.

    I feel that Academia and Higher Education is in an endless race with technology. Both Academia and higher education are trying to keep the pace with the fast development of technology. In the article of “The Online Amplification Effect” by Margaret Soltan, where she called for professional bloggers for the universities, is an attempt to improve the school facilities and put it ahead forward than others. That reminds me with the cell phone tool being used in academia at UCONN. However, I think that blogging isn’t the only tool to advertise for a school, its facilities, and how its police force like. What is more, I was stunned when I read “Admissions of Guilt” by Terry Calhoun about using Myspace in the academia. I feel it is violating the privacy issue we have been discussing since the beginning of the semester. I cannot also depend on the info on it to judge a person and whether friend him/her or not. I think that is not professional.

  7. wessam101 Says:

    I totally agree with Nicole and Wen to their reaction to Terry Calhoun’s article. It is very true that once you send something online it is open to the whole world since the moment you hit the button. Having the feeling that someone knows about you and your private life is scary. What worries me more is the influence of this on my career and professional life. However, I remember Barbara said before that you still have the option of making things private or public. It is the same thing with having a facebook profile controlling your privacy options. That gives me a hint to what I should share with others and what I should keep for myself only and nobody else.

    I really liked the readings for the class activities. It is kind of giving you hope to a better and a secure professional life. In other words, I felt that I still have some sources that I can use for my papers and research without worries about having my work deleted or myself being called a trespasser. These websites I saw in Example of Higher Ed Creative Commons Use: Drew University Writing Program On-line Resources for Writers are just amazing and save a lot of time. I also like the one of Next Vista for Learning as it somehow answers Josh’s question in the last class when he wanted to film his classes. If these videos are post on Youtube, they are threatened with deletion as mentioned before. I am still trying to figure out this Open ID and Claim ID thing though.


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