New copyright law affects students and teachers
Copyright is the protection by law of an original work – including music, books, movies and other creative works. Federal laws provide the registered owner of a copyright exclusive control over the property for a set number of years.
Copyrights are issued and regulated by the U.S. Copyright Office in Washington, D. C.. The United States Congress passed the Digital Millennium Copyright Act in 1998. This law makes it a crime to produce any technology or service that would enable someone to access protected works.
American colleges and universities consider it one of their responsibilities to increase digital literacy and student skills. In 2009, a group of college educators petitioned the Copyright Office for an exemption that would allow students and teachers to legally “rip” excerpts of copy-protected movie DVDS for comment and criticism. In 2010, the Copyright Office granted the request and passed a rule authorizing “remixing” of images, video and sound from copyrighted works to make something new. The goal is to promote language and literacy skills that build critical thinking and communication skills.
This ruling is limited to film and media studies majors and does not extend to the K-12 student. High school and lower-grade students can use screen capture of a film but are excluded from access to high-quality clips available from certain software programs. Without the high-quality images, students can’t produce films for the big screen which limits their ability to participate in film festivals. However, for most K-12 projects using the screen capture method is sufficient. There is an exemption for K-12 students if their creation is for non-commercial purposes.