The extensive use of computers and the ease of access to the World Wide Web have added an abundance of information in digital form. To copy, publish and distribute information has never been easier. The Web is one of the world’s largest libraries holding a plethora of digital media. This makes it easy to enrich student’s minds and to help them learn and grow as the world continues to evolve.
The amended Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), passed in 1998, affects how students and teachers of higher education can use digital material in the classroom. Renee Hobbs, professor of communication at Temple University’s School of Communications and Theater, and a handful of other determined educators led a formal petition to obtain an exemption that would allow educators and students to legally “rip” excerpts of protected material. According to professor Hobs, “Increasing students’ digital literacy is a responsibility educators can’t afford to brush off.” Media literacy is important in classes such as Mass Media. To fully understand it depends on the use of copyright material. As professor Hobbs stated, “We can’t do our job without using them”.
Although college students are able to explore and study the work of protected material the Copyright Office stated that K-12 teachers and students are ineligible for the exemption. Eric Richardson, an Arizona High School Instructor, agrees with this. “The amount of time spent reviewing the work of an artist in high school is brief compared to a class that focuses entirely on mass media.” Meris Stansbury, Associate Editor of eSchool News, also agrees. “There is very little need to reproduce a book, film or song in high school studies. K-12 students and teachers should use only screen captures of a film.” Also, the distribution of copyrighted material from home computers, such as music, games and videos that do not have owner’s permission is a violation of the DMCA federal law and college policy.
The purpose of the copyright law is to encourage creative work by giving creators exclusive rights to distribute their products without having others infringe upon their work through piracy or other acts of devious mischief.