A Cooperative Resolution?

What is the proper way to deal with intellectual property rights? In my opinion we are still in the early days of figuring out how to handle the rights of individuals and corporations with regard to information rights in the digital age. Look no further than the battle between individuals who use file sharing software over the Internet vs. the recording industry.

It is easy for most people to recognize that music is an art worth paying money to enjoy. Therefore, it is pretty simple to see how the recording industry, acting as a whole for the artists would crusade against illegal sharing of music made much easier over broadband Internet connections. Think of it, you pay for a CD once… then copy it to ten friends. You have essentially just taken 90% of the profit due to the artist for those transactions.

However, this issue is not that simple. To convince the RIAA to allow music to be legally downloaded from iTunes, etc., digital rights management code (DRM) was added to all of the songs. At first, I had no problem with this fact. However, recent issues have cropped in the use of my songs to do certain things. Now when a new technology comes along, such as Animoto, I find that I don’t have the rights to add my own music to videos I make on the site. This is very disturbing to me. In my opinion, if I want to hear music that I have legally purchased playing in the background of images of my wedding and honeymoon, I should be able to do just that. Instead, it only allows non-DRM music in the form of .mp3 files to be added.

This is NOT a solution. It is only an inconvenience to ethical folks who play by the rules. All that means is that I can slide any hardcopy CD that I have purchased (or borrowed for that matter) into my laptop drive and copy the file in .mp3 format to be used however I want. This amounts to DRM code being nothing but a crutch added to allow you to conveniently purchase music online. Because of this, I only download from iTunes when I am either in a hurry or want only a song or two from a certain LP.

To test some of these ideas, I created a video of a school planning retreat on Animoto and uploaded it to YouTube. The video can be seen here:

When this was done, I quickly received an e-mail from YouTube stating that my video had been flagged as having copyrighted material. The soundtrack I added for this two minute and four second video was “With My Own Two Hands” by Ben Harper & Jack Johnson from the Curious George soundtrack. For doing so, I was given three very reasonable options:

1. remove the video from YouTube immediately

2. dispute the claim via a link they provide

3. leave the video up and allow UMG, the recording company, to place ads on the page as well as track the public statistics of the video, such as number of views, etc.

To me, this is a very smart, savvy, consumer-friendly way to handle a minor “rights dispute” such as this one. I get to play my video the way I wanted to in the first place, and they get free advertising. This seems like a win/win to me. Therefore, I chose option three… the video still plays online, and everyone is happy. I can only hope that future decisions about information rights are solved in such a cooperative way.

Sean Nash

Biology teacher in the great state of Kansas. Back at it in the classroom after a 30-year career in Missouri. Former District Curriculum Administrator, Instructional Technology Coordinator, and Instructional Coach. Biology instructor since 1993. Find more about my passions and my work at http://nashworld.me


  1. Hi Sean,

    It was great getting to meet you at yesterday’s METC conference. I really appreciated your participation in the copyright session and the link to this post. I hope you get a chance to study some of the resources related to user-centric copyright experts linked to on my wiki. I think you’d enjoy them.

    Again, great to meet you and happy blogging,


    • @Doug Johnson, likewise for sure. I attended your workshop dealing with policy, security, ethics, filtering, etc. at NECC 2008 in San Antonio. It was nice to not have to travel that far for for this last talk on copyright.

      And yes- your blog has been linked form this front page since near the time it began. However, the resources on your wiki have kept me quite busy. And to think I thought I had seen everything there.

      I have pointed a ton of people to the conversations and content found within your web presence. I appreciate your work and perhaps especially your overall worldview pertaining to the topics mentioned here.



  2. I agree that option 3 is a great option, however, I still understand why, in some instances, it is more appropriate to remove it (or the sound, as happened in my case).

    The reason being that perhaps the artist do not support or agree with the way I am using it. Perhaps, in the case of my Darwin video where I used an ACDC song, the artist is a crazy anti-evolutionist who loathes Darwin. Does the artist not have the right to keep their own work from being used in a way that they are opposed to?

    I can think of the Heart example where McCain (or was it Palin?) was using the Barracuda song and Heart was like STOP! You can’t use my song you vile Republican! Don’t artists have the right to do that?

    I’m with you that for teaching purposes certain exemptions should be made, but unless ACDC is willing to one-by-one go through and approve/disapprove all uses of their songs I can see why the company just removes them.

    I know I’m thinking from the artist’s viewpoint while the company is thinking more along the line of profit, but I still it’s a valid argument.

    • @Stacy, I couldn’t agree more. I think the “…i get to say if my song is used when and where…” is more than appropriate. I would fight for that right for any artist.

      I mean… if my work was used by Mrs. Palin I’d not be too impressed either! 😉

      I just wonder in this case if the decision was from the artist (i doubt it) or just the auto-response of that particular recording company. I bet the farm that in this case it was the company.

      It will be terribly interesting to see how they embrace the technology/marketing power of the masses as we all go forth into the near future.

      Will you post the link to your trailer so we can archive the message on the post in this thread? I really do think this is an interesting discussion.

      As always, thanks so much,


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