Creating an Alternative Copyright Education

Session Type:
Working Group
Session Category:
Session Leaders:
Katie Baxter
(NYLS Free Culture)

Pat Aufderheide
(AU Center for Social Media)

Elisa Kreisinger
(Pop Culture Pirate)

Karl Fogel (QuestionCopyright.Org)

Richard Esguerra

Day: Saturday
Time: 10:30am – 1:30pm
Room: W220

Session Notes


Many IP-heavy industries, such as the entertainment industry, have undertaken efforts to “educate” creators and consumers about the consequences of using copyrighted works, but they only tell one side of the story. The “use at your own risk” narrative woven by supporters of strong copyright laws minimizes fair use and discourages remix, collage, and other critical engagements with video. With a new generation of creators and technologies driving the evolution of our cultural ecosystem, it is essential for them to understand the true extent of their rights.

What needs to be done? Helping creators and consumers realize the full scope of their legal protections requires educational efforts as determined and zealous as industry efforts that teach away from free culture. Educational projects like the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Teaching Copyright curriculum, QuestionCopyright.Org’s Minute Memes, and the Center for Social Media’s Best Practices in Fair Use project have gone a long way towards introducing a more balanced perspective that challenges many accepted norms within the IP landscape. But, while these types of educational resources abound, there remains a significant gap between their existence and the ability of others to utilize them on a practical level.


The session will work towards developing an online educational portal for assisting real creators and consumers. The website will house various resources (and links to resources), allow users to submit resources, and, most importantly, will provide a place for users to ask each other questions, discuss various copyright issues, and comment and rate the resources. The website will become an ongoing project of the NYLS chapter of Students for Free Culture.


We’ll begin by introducing the state of copyright education and identifying what is missing from it and what needs to be done better. We’ll also explore various understandings of what “copyright education” can mean, with regard to the current legal framework of copyright, as well as copyright’s historical and philosophical positions.

Then, we’ll spend some time searching the web (and our brains) to put together a comprehensive set of available resources, making sure that we aren’t duplicating existing efforts. There exists a plethora of bad to downright evil copyright “education”, as well as a significant amount of well intentioned yet equally misinformed “education. Our challenge will be to develop a framework for dealing with these conflicting viewpoints.

Finally, we’ll work towards designing an intuitive GUI for the website.