I attended a virtual discussion on copyright and fair use tonight in SecondLife and it has me thinking and rethinking (which I'm sure was Doug's goal)!
I've only been in SL once before and then I found that my machine's video card just wasn't capable of handling the graphics-intensive environment. Tonight, we downloaded and installed on hubby's laptop so that I could participate. I had some issues with lag and corrupted images, but on the whole it worked out really well.
I asked about a specific situation I encountered this year: one of my students was looking for images for a PA History project. The image that he found was on a website where the photographer requested payment for the use of the image. Normally, I would have said that fair use meant he did not need to request permission to use an image, but this situation gave me pause and made me wonder whether the photographer's request for payment meant that the student could not use the image without paying for the rights to do so. What would you have told your student? Doug says he believes that it was likely fair use (but without more specifics he couldn't say for sure.)
Someone else in the audience asked about work that he's creating in the SL world and how to make it available to others without losing credit for the development and creation he's done. Doug suggested he check out Creative Commons licensing for his projects to ensure he has the power he wants but others can still adapt for their own use.
Doug compared current copyright law to the old Blue Laws (like the one that said that more than four women living in a house in the borough of State College was a brothel and therefore sororities were prohibited from having houses like fraternities did.) He says that it's outdated and that mostly it isn't enforced so what's the point? The text of his discussion is available on the wiki.
The one thing that I really like is his suggestion of branding ourselves as a copyright counselor (rather than the copyright Nazi some of my colleagues have deemed themselves--and others have labelled me!) If we talk about what can be done rather than emphasizing what can't, we're their cheerleaders, their helpers, we're enabling success and helping students (and teachers and administrators) to take advantage of open source software, and royalty free and public domain sources.
One database our schools have access to is the Associated Press's Multimedia Archive (I think the name may have changed recently and I don't recall the new one.) I helped a student to find images of 50 Cent there for his project. He was searching images on the web and was coming up with things that were so small that when they were enlarged to the size required for his project they were pixellated and unusable. He was thrilled with the images we got from that database and I have been able to convince others to use it on his recommendation.