Words to Ponder....

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Friday, October 24, 2008

Is It Possible to Violate Copyright When Providing an Accessible Copy?

Actually, yes. Not anyone can just produce copies of something and provide it for the visually impaired, so be careful. There are special entities that make and provide specialized formats of materials. The National Library Service for the Blind is one of those entities. It provides libraries all over the country (I guess that partially answers the question in my last post!) To find a library near you, a link is provided on the NLS website www.loc.gov/nls/index.html to search. I searched Pennsylvania and discovered the closest one to me is in Pittsburgh at Carnegie:

Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped
Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh
Leonard C. Staisey Building
4724 Baum Boulevard Pittsburgh, PA 15213-1389
Librarian: Kathleen Kappel
Telephone: (412) 687-2440 Toll-free (In-state): (800) 242-0586 FAX: (412) 687-2442
E-mail: lbph@carnegielibrary.org
Web site: http://www.carnegielibrary.org/lbph
Hours of Operation: 9:00-5:00 M-F

Pretty cool, huh?

Do Libraries Provide Access for the Visually Impaired?

Steph raised an interesting question in her response to my last post. She wondered if their are libraries that provide access for the visually impaired. I personally haven't been to one with obvious concessions to the visually impaired, but I'm sure there are. It seems that academic libraries would be more apt to provide these services. I remember at the beginning of this semester receiving correspondence from Clarion telling what to do if we had any special needs regarding Internet access, etc., so I guess that's one example of an academic library/university
providing special concessions.

I also came across a very good website with guidelines on how to provide IT access for the visually impaired. It mentions that it is far less costly to upgrade and purchase technologies as they become available rather than waiting until you actually need them for a visually impaired person and have to purchase them all at once.

The site is provided by University of Washington and the organization is called DO IT.

I found it interesting to peruse the suggestions and steps. Does anyone else have any experience with visually impaired technologies or has anyone seen it in use in a library?

Monday, October 20, 2008

So, Exactly What Is an Accessible Copy?

Well, put simply, an "accessible copy" is a version of a work that provides for improved or easier access for a visually impaired person. This means that possibly even the original format of the work may need to be altered. An accessible copy can include added capabilities for navigating around the original version, so it includes both hard and soft copies. In other words, if a person is totally blind, a text can be made into an audio format so the person can listen to the book, or it could be translated into braille. What if a person can see, but cannot hold a book? This person is also included in the context of visually impaired and can have books made into e-books and the like for easier use which also comes under the definition of an accessible copy.

With audio books being published and many libraries now lending them, certain types of accessible copies are much easier to come by these days.

Friday, October 17, 2008

VIPs are VIPs

Yes, Visually Impaired Persons are Very Important People. Those of us who are sighted, even if we wear a form of corrective lenses, tend to take our vision for granted and often don't consider how access to information can be seriously hampered or even impossible to those who are visually impaired. Who are the visually impaired? Anyone:
  • whose visual acuity is 20/200 or less in the better eye with correcting lenses, or whose widest visual field is no greater than 20 degrees;
  • whose visual disability, with correction, prevents the reading of standard printed material;
  • unable to read or unable to use standard printed material as a result of physical limitations. (NLS 2006)

So, what does the Chaffee Amendment do for those who are visually impaired? It allows for an "accessible copy" to be made without requiring permission from the author or creator of the work as long as that copy is only to be used by the visually impaired and expressly states that purpose.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Did You Know?

Who is aware that there are special copyright laws and considerations for the visually impaired? I hadn't even thought about the possibility of copyright laws hampering information access for visually impaired persons, until now! Over the next couple days, I'll present a few facts and points that have been addressed by the Chaffee Amendment which was passed September 16, 1996. This information could be helpful to us as teacher-librarians with the very real possibility of having students with visual difficulties using our libraries and knowing how to serve these students.

If anyone happened to read this post previously, you might notice a change in the name of the Amendment and the date it came into effect. I mistakenly had put the name and date of the Act passed in the United Kingdom dealing with the visually impaired.

Interesting Observation

There were only 5 total respondents to my quick poll regarding viewing rights of DVDs in schools, but I found the results very interesting. When we consider our educational background, we know we've at LEAST gotten through 4 years of undergrad studies. More of us are unaware of a lot of copyright issues, including this one, than are well versed. Compare that to the general public and I think we'd find most know even less than we do. It lays a lot of responsibility at our doorstep to help educate others, whether we're in a public venue or school media center!!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Who Takes the Blame for Plagiarsim?

A couple posts previously, I mentioned information about the need for schools to employ Turnitin because of plagiarism. In keeping with this topic and students' overwhelming submission of plagiarized materials, I found this article to be informative and interesting. The author, Nate Anderson, discusses points of a speech from Baroness Deech who runs the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education in the United Kingdom. This agency handles student complaints against university decsions dealing with copyright issues, so Deech gets a first-hand look at these issues.

Anderson begins by mentioning the burgeoning problem of student plagiarism partially due to electronic databases that make it so easy to cut and paste and students growing up in a "Rip, mix, burn" society. Then he asks if it is totally the students' fault and brings in Deech's thesis that teachers and technology have an equal share in the blame. How's this, you ask?

In her speech, Deech mentions (criticizes?) the teaching methods of university teachers. She says that students seem to have expectations that information will be handed to them, often because teachers simplify lectures and complex lessons down to "three bullet points" in a PowerPoint. Instead, she encourges that students take their own notes and limit computer usage for research.

Anderson, also an educator, says he is surprised by the number of students who have forgotten how to even locate books on a shelf and the mentality that if it's not accessible through Google, it's not worth finding. He mentions his dismay at some of the websites that "students consider authoritative." Couple that with students who are poor writers, procrastinators or lazy and it's the perfect recipe for copyright disaster.

Regardless of who might be to blame or contributing to the problem, Anderson makes the claim, and rightly so, that students are still ultimately responsible. Students always have the choice whether to create original works or not.

My questions to you: How well do you feel your college professors advocated - verbally or by example - researching, curiosity, and originality?

Do you feel your professors' methods made you any more aware of copyright issues?

Anderson, N. (2006, October 20). Are teachers and computers responsible for plagiarism?
Retrieved from, http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20061020-8041.html

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Do We Have One?

I finished my last post by saying I wasn't sure if the library I work for has a copyright policy or not. Just in case anyone is interested, I did ask my library director if we have a copyright policy. She looked a bit surprised and said, "Not one written down, but everyone knows the basic rules, so I don't see a problem."

Anyone out there take issue with this mentality after all we've learned thus far?!?

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Does Your School Need a Copyright Policy?

So, who needs a copyright policy? We all know that there are laws and regulations to comply with, right? Well, when we consider the purpose of a policy, which is to have guidelines set in place before an incident happens, no matter the type of institution or regulations we're dealing with, it shows the need to institute a full written policy. We don't make policies hoping that something will go wrong, we just have them in place as a guide to set things straight or if necessary, to use as ammunition in a legal battle.

So, what does a policy consist of? In our text, Copyright for Schools, Carol Simpson says that of utmost importance is a statement of a school's intention to abide by copyright laws. (2005) She also mentions the Association for Information Media and Equipment (AIME), which is the "king" of copyright law advocates, publishes an information packet with policy-making tips and guidelines. She notes a few key points that should be included in any institution's policy:
  1. Intent to abide by the letter and spirit of copyright law.
  2. Cover all types of materials and media.
  3. Liability for noncompliance rests with the user.
  4. The district mandates training for all personnel who might make copies.
  5. The user must be able to provide justification for use.
  6. The district appoints a copyright officer. (Simpson 2005)

These are only very skeletal suggestions, and I've even pared down from the information in the text, but it's a good beginning framework for policy. As noted in numbers 3 and 5, heavy responsibility is laid on the end user. It's become more and more evident as I read and research copyright, there is never a time that the words, "but I didn't know" will be acceptable.

I think I'll check on what my library of employment has in the way of copyright policy and if nothing is in place, make some suggestions for beginning one. If there is one, I guess I need to familiarize myself with it!

Friday, October 3, 2008

"Turnitin" Gets Turned In?

Hmmm, how's that again? I'm sure we're all at least a bit familiar with the anti-plagiarism tool "turnitin." I first heard of it when completing our online orientation for the Clarion Blackboard. I think it's a great tool so teachers and professors know for sure that a paper is original in thought and content. Apparently some don't agree. I was searching copyright and schools through good ol' Google and came across an interesting article which caught my eye because of the "turnitin" aspect.

Two school districts, one in Virginia and the other in Arizona, have been requiring student papers to be turned in through "turnitin" due to an overwhelming outpouring of plagiarism. Several students decided that the aspect of the parent company to "turnitin," iParadigm, had violated copyright issues because of the archive capabilities of turnitin once a paper is submitted. As we know, turnitin uses its archives and other web documents, etc. to compare a student's work and then provide the corresponding teacher with an authenticity report. The students in question had attached a "do not archive" disclaimer to their works assuming this was enough to prevent the work being archived, however; the school districts had already signed agreements with iParadigm giving permission for the districts' students' work to be archived. In addition, each student had to create his own user profile and read the agreements previous to paper submission which include aspects of agreeing to allow work to be archived.

To make a long explanation short, the courts ruled in favor of iParadigm for several reasons. The two most obvious were simply that (1) the continual use of turnitin by these students leads to the premise that students were fully aware of agreement terms, and (2) even though the papers were turned in with a disclaimer to archive, it wasn't valid due to statements included in the click agreement the students agreed to. There are other deeper reasons, including one student's misuse of turnitin by misrepresenting himself to use his friend's college turnitin account. This is a very simplified account of what's written in the case documents which can be accessed at http://www.iparadigms.com/iParadigms_03-11-08_Opinion.pdf and I don't mean to say I understand all the technical jargon, but it seems to me that the the court rulings were fair and thought out.

It causes me to wonder why the students were so concerned with having to use turnitin. Was it really that they felt archiving their works was a major copyright infringement, or were they trying to circumvent using turnitin so it would be a bit easier to have extra "help" with term papers and such?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Here's my reference for our text:
Simpson, C. (2005). Copyright for schools a practical guide (4th ed.). p. 13. Worthington: Linworth Publishing.
Clueless Wonder!
Yes, that would be me when it comes to copyright laws and issues: Clueless about most of it and wondering about the rest! I still hardly know where to begin, but I really like Carol Simpson's simplified assessment of the whole topic which she writes at the end of her introduction to our text, "Copyright for Schools." Her little story ends with, "You don't take what isn't yours without asking first." (Simpson 2005) Sounds really simple, doesn't it? As we're finding out through research for our blogs, it's a lot more intricate than than that, but it's a good start.
I've begun wondering how many times - inadvertently of course! - I've misused or copied something to which I didn't have proper rights. Maybe none, but it does give a person pause for thought. Our text gives very detailed explanations of the many facts and innuendos of copyright, but I felt like doing a search for something that would give a quick overview of the major points. I found the following website, which happily, the author blatantly allows links to. (I'm thinking, "Cliff Note version, anyone?") It's entitled, "10 Big Myths about copyright explained", written by Brad Templeton:
I hope as I become a little wiser on these issues, I'll be able to post some things bit more informative, but for now, enjoy Mr. Templeton's easy-to-read site.