Renee Hobbs Workshop

Copyright Clarity for the College Community

Next steps

Below the video on this page are answers from Renee Hobbs to questions that remained in the Google Moderator queue at the end of the session.

Workshop- Copyright Clarity for the College Community from Winter Faculty Institute 2012 hosted by UD Capture

Renee Hobbs answers your questions

Renee Hobbs followed up on the questions which remained unanswered in the Google Moderator queue at the end of the day. 

Dear University of Delaware Colleagues: 
Here are some answers to the questions you asked yesterday. Thanks for the opportunity to participate in the Winter Faculty Institute!

"Please explain SOPA and its potential impact on higher education." 
Mathieu, Newark, DE 

SOPA is the Stop Online Privacy Act – it’s provides a stronger enforcement mechanism to protect digital infringement. Proponents say stronger enforcement is needed to protect against rampant piracy. Opponents say the bill, as written, will set up an official censorship network for the currently open Internet. SOPA could greatly impact media scholars and other educators because people who comment on mass media and popular culture often need to use excerpts of other people’s work. Their work might become “invisible” on the Internet if blacklisted by the SOPA law. 

 "Cross-cultural issues with tech tools. Some technology is not available to all cultures because of political restrictions. How can we get American students to understand that THEIR virtual world is not shared universally?" 
Ralph, UD 

Fascinating question. I like to use the wonderful book, Disconnected: Haves and Have Nots in the Information Age by William Wresch.

"What part of combining other people's work (sometimes copyrighted) is considered "composition?"" 
Ralph, UD 

The classic example, of course, is quotation. Quotation is the standard way scholars acknowledge that their own ideas rest upon the ideas of a knowledge community. Today, digital quotation takes many forms. 

"Are works created in digital forms considered "fixed and tangible?"" 
Ralph, UD 


"In what scenarios is it ok to take an article from the library databases and put it in my course site?" 
Mathieu, Newark, DE 

If your college library has paid a fee to access the database, you may share a PDF copy on a delimited network like Sakai or Blackboard.  

"What about the use of a case study for student analysis? I don't want them to buy an entire textbook? It's a similar purpose as to what it was originally written for?" 
Sandy, UD 

Limited distribution of copyrighted content for educational purposes is protected under fair use. "Did you get permission to use the Family Guy image on your love/hate slide?" 
Mandorichard, Newark 

I claim fair use when using the Family Guy image. My reasoning: I’m using a small portion of an image for a purpose different from what it was originally intended. 

 "So, if attribution has no legal consequence, what about the Creative Commons Licenses that specify "with attribution"? Is that just a request for courtesy?" 
Becky Kinney 

A CC license is actually a contract so it’s possible that the copyright owner could come after you for violating the terms of the license.

"About using a quote from one blog on another (potentially profitable) blog...does fair use mean you can quote as much of the original blog as you needed? (I'd heard there was a limit of 15% of the original)." 
Beth, UD 

All the things you’ve heard that include percentages or specific amounts come from the educational use guidelines—these documents are negotiated agreements between publishers and some educational groups and are not the law. When you use a quotation from copyrighted work, you must consider your purpose and the context when deciding how to quote. Depending on the context and situation, you may neeed to use a small or larger portion—fair use allows you to make the determination that meets your needs. 

"What about licensed background music behind your powerpoint?" 
Sandy, UD 

There are no special rules for music. Fair use applies to music just as with other forms of creative expression in fixed and tangible form. If you’re using music simply to create a mood, we generally ask permission or pay a license fee, since “creating a mood” is the purpose of music. But when you’re using a clip from a sound file to illustrate a specific point, or as a form of evidence, then you may claim fair use. More information about your purpose for using the music and your reason for using it -- and your plans for distributing the powerpoint—are needed to make a fair use determination. "A question some of my students ask every year.... 

"Why hasn't Gregg Gillis (aka Girl Talk) been sued for copyright infringement yet?"¬k/" 
Mandorichard, Newark 

Many people think that Girl Talk’s work is highly transformative. I am fascinated by the stuff myself! 

"What is the public domain and when does copyrighted material become a part of it?" 
Mathieu, Newark, DE 

The public domain is the term used to refer to work that is no longer copyrighted and thus available for all the public to use. For example, Shakespeare’s works are in the public domain. The original intent of copyright law was to ensure that works came into the public domain quickly--- originally, the law specified seven years. But today, copyrighted works are protected forever, it seems, 120 years. This is one of the reasons why fair use has become a more important concept than ever before. 

"As an employee, do I own copyright to my own work?" 
Mathieu, Newark, DE 

 This depends on the nature of your contract with your employer. If you are contracted under a “work for hire” provision, you may not (under some circumstances) own the copyright to the creative work you produce. 

"are you familiar with the Richard Prince case (an artist who's made collages of copyrighted work)?¬/01/arts/design/richard-prince¬-lawsuit-focuses-on-limits-of-¬appropriation.html?scp=1&sq=co¬pyright%20art&st=cse" 
chris penna

As specialists in the creative process, artists recognize that human creativity is combinatorial. Wow—thanks for sharing this! 

"Explain the difference between plagiarism and copyright infringement." 
Mathieu, Newark, DE

Plagiarism is an ethical relationship between the author and the user—a professional courtesy of sorts. Copyright infringement is a legal matter. 

"could you talk a bit about the notion of derivative works and whether or not they are an infringement of copyright?" 
chris penna 

 The concept of derivative works is complicated – and the term’s application and use have changed over time. Read more about that in The Wealth of Networks by Yochai Benkler. 

 "Jing is part of what suite? I missed the name." 

 Jing ( is a free online tool for screencasting created by TechSmith.

Copyright Clarity for the College Community

Many people are confused about their rights and responsibilities as authors and audiences of copyrighted materials. Students now grow up in a cut-and-paste culture, which affects their attitudes and behaviors regarding the law. As faculty explore the use of new media and technology tools for teaching and learning, new questions emerge about what's lawful when it comes to the use of copyrighted materials.

This workshop introduces participants to fundamental concepts about copyright as applied to the practice of teaching and learning with digital media. Learn the conditions under which you can say "Yes, you can" to colleagues and students who want to use DVD film clips, websites, digital images and other kinds of copyrighted material.  

About the Presenter

Renee Hobbs
Renee Hobbs is the Founding Director of the Harrington School of Communication and Media at the University of Rhode Island. The new school brings together departments of communication, film/media, journalism, public relations, writing & rhetoric, and library and information studies. As one of the nation's leading authorities on media literacy education, she is the author of Digital and Media Literacy: Connectiing Culture and Classroom, Copyright Clarity: How Fair Use Supports Digital Learning, and Reading the Media: Media Literacy in High School English. Forrmerly a professor at Temple University's School of Communication and Theater, Hobbs has developed multimedia resources to promote digital and media literacy in the context of K-12 education and conducted research to examine the impact of media literacy on academic achievement. She is  co-editor of the open access peer review Journal of Media Literacy Education ( and the Founder of the Media Education Lab (, a research center that improves the practice of media literacy education through scholarship and community service.