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Getting Legal at Silverdocs

The SILVERDOCS conference now has a thriving strand of panels directed at teachers who use audio-visual material in the classroom and who work with kids who make video. One of their biggest headaches is understanding their rights under copyright. Can students upload their videos to YouTube? Are they permitted to clip out material from commercial (and encrypted) DVDs? Can teachers post clips onto their electronic teaching platforms? Peter Jaszi and I had a lot of fun at the panel, "The Legal 411 on Film and Media in the Classroom." We loved hearing Devin Cheema of Discovery Channels say that she wants everyone to exercise their Fair Use rights. She wants to see Discovery programs used fairly in the classroom and when teachers ask her for permission to use a clip, she simply has to say "no" (it costs more just to check out the rights situation than a teacher could pay!). Mary Jane Sasser, who makes videos with students in nearby Howard County, enthusiastically took home copies of the Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literacy Education. She's tired of Fair Use being a "gray area," and the Code takes the guessing out of deciding. Finally, we loved Gail Bailey, head librarian for the Montgomery County public schools in Maryland, who knit together a vigorous conversation about what teachers and librarians can do to make the best use of popular culture and also teach their students the highest standards in copyright.