Herrington, TyAnna.  “Blogging Down: Copyright Law and Blogs in the Classroom.”  in Westbrook, Steve, ed. Composition & Copyright: Perspectives on Teaching, Textmaking, and Fair Use. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2009.

  • H. notes that there  are two reasons why instructors should be concerned with IP & their students: 1) global accessibility of blogs raises the stakes in infringement cases; and 2) student authorship likewise raises IP issues in the composition classroom (154).
  • As H. notes, it is just wonderful that the US Constitutional Copyright Clause is, at its heart, rooted in a policy of education – use, reuse, build, create, and benefit from each other’s intellectual creations (154).
  • H. notes that because students who compose on blogs are creating copyrighted material we must consider IP in our classrooms.  (Of course, a good study in Creative Commons might get us around the legality of a lot of these issues).  (155)
  • Sections of article: 1) statues in law related to IP and student blogs; 2) existing case law and student copyright control; 3) synthesis of discussions related to copyright and blogs; 4) suggestions for composition instructors (155).
  • As you might expect, H. recommends teaching the difference between idea and expression – this binary undergirds copyright law.  She also highlights how the blending of student work and other’s work in student blogs (via video, sound, etc.) creates a rather complex situation.  If not protected under fair use student blog writers could be persecuted for copyright infringement (157).
  • Herrington considers fair use and work-for-hire before moving on to case law to describe the legality of student generated texts for classroom use.  As H. notes, the nature of a blog as a public piece of writing calls into some question infringement claims; however, the nature of the forum/technology doesn’t dismiss all IP claims (163).
  • H. notes that instructors have a “fiduciary” or heightened duty of care for their students because they are in a position of power through assessment.  As such, it is the special duty of the instructor to inform, educate, and teach their students the possibilities and limitations of blogging publicly on the net (164).  This responsibility also affects the teacher as they textual dissemination or other forms of sharing educational materials can be fraught with infringement liabilities.
  • H. also brings up the ethically difficult problem of public writing in digital spaces in this piece.  The question of whether students should be required to post in public is a real issue that should be confronted with care for the student first and foremost.  Our desires for public pedagogy could be very, very dangerous (165).
  • H. turns to and other student work databases as examples of the controversial nature of requiring students to give up their IP in order to check for originality and plagiarism (UGH!!) (166).
  • H. identifies the central concern in this article: “Difficulty arises when the traditional classroom setting becomes superseded by a technological construct that allows student work to be placed in locations that are accessible to those outside the classroom (168).  Some of these problems are mitigated by preventing access to the blog with password protections (but this practice is somewhat antithetical as it diminishes the ‘real audience’ that students compose for . . . but do they ever compose for “real” audiences in the typical, non service learning class?).

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