As a teacherÂ who has found herself in the unanticipated position of having to go textless this term, I give a very grateful shout out to David WestÂ Brown, whose exceptional textÂ In OtherÂ Words: Lessons on Grammar, Code-Switching, and Academic WritingÂ permitsÂ teachers to make copies of handouts from theÂ text and to disseminate themÂ for classroom use. West BrownÂ even provides a citation footer on each handout page, sparing teachers the need to add one before photocopying.
Creative Commons is wonderful. And fair use, which grants educatorsÂ someÂ (limited) freedom to use copyrighted material that we otherwise couldn’t, is as well. But the kind of resource sharingÂ modeled by West Brown is practical and important. I can’t speak to how many teachers intentionally or unintentionally violate copyright when teaching withÂ resources created by others, but I can say that when you go textless, it takes a concerted effortÂ to avoid doing so.
And it can be frustrating in an era of widespread digital sharing,Â whereÂ linking and retweeting are commonplace, to be inhibitedÂ by copyrightÂ restrictions onÂ print and other media. It’s frustrating to find an excellent short story and then realize that because it’s 4752Â words – beyond the lengthÂ allowed by the Copyright Act for educational use – it’s too long to be copied and read in class. If I taught in aÂ computer lab, no problem. Students couldÂ just pull it up online. Or if most students had access to computers at home, they could read it independently. But when access to the internet is limited, as it is when you teach the poor, the restrictions of copyright and internet access can beÂ crippling.
[aside – At MBDA, we published using Creative Commons, and I authored a somewhat avant-garde citation modelÂ that gave contributors credit for their edits. We were focused on sharing information, removing barriers to access, and acknowledging the significance of collaborative work.Â I wonder howÂ the Internet of Things will changeÂ things. Will it makeÂ ownership more diffuseÂ or more discrete? I wonder if it will unseat copyright or if a new model of crediting will emerge.] Â