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Regarding inequities in online property rights

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From: Kevan Nitzberg (knitzber_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Sun Jul 04 2004 - 08:56:51 PDT


I certainly understand the statements that you made in regards to the
inequities of the ownership issues in respect to how intellectual
property is defined differently (music industry rights v.s. educator
rights). Where I think there are arguable differences, however, is
that the music was never intended to be shared for free as it initially
was being sold to a buying public. The use of the internet to market
the music rather backfired as they (the music industry), had not
anticipated that the technology that would and has been developed as a
part of what the internet makes possible, would result in the free
downloading of music through Napster and other avenues, without having
to have any money exchange hands. In a sense, the marketing gurus got
caught with their shorts around their ankles as they had not considered
the technological implications that might (and have) resulted in their
desire to make larger profits.

Education, on the other hand, has, at least in modern times, come into
the arena from a non-profit, good for society, democracy building
standpoint. The whole concept of public education has been about
creating an informed citizenry in order to keep those ideals strong and
secure. The equalization of people through education has been an
incredibly powerful cornerstone of what our society has been based on.
It has been in that vein that educators have traditionally borrowed and
'fair-shared' information with each other and from a variety of
resources for the betterment of their students and their programs. It
has not been centered around profit making and 'making it rich'. What
has irked many of us in recent years has been the attempt to create
pseudo schools and learning environments that have built what on the
surface have seemed to be about 'new and improved' educational
paradigms, but not too far below the surface have been more about
creating money making opportunities for those whose 'businesses' these
belong to. That is not, however, to say that there are not many
private schools that don't do a good job educating their students, but
those schools (at least in my experience), seem to have been built
around a desire to operate the school based upon a certain
philosophical or religious criteria that either was not appropriate to
or in existence in the public schools in their respective areas.

I have no argument with educators making additional money through their
individual labors and skills that have been a result of their
professional expertise and years devoted to their profession. I take
advantage of that from time to time as well. I would, however, suggest
that using the internet presents some very great difficulties for those
educators who wish to pursue additional income in that way. This
(despite the annoying barrage of pop up ads and electronic info spots),
is by and large a public forum medium that allows for the free flowing
of information on a global level. While there are certainly abuses of
that which occur quite often (degrading images, hateful rhetoric,
etc.), the internet is also a a very positive and powerful tool to keep
the availability of freely dispensable information alive and well to
potentially the largest population that is perhaps reachable through
any medium that we currently have the technology to support.

Educators who wish to have their services / products available at a
price, would be better advised to publish their work or give workshops
(online distance learning for credit in 'password protected meeting
areas' for a fee would also fit in here), as opposed to sharing their
ideas / personal resources in this open arena. I also feel, as we both
have stipulated in earlier posts, that anyone who clearly is utilizing
information gleaned from another party, should take the time to search
for and provide original sources from where the material originated.
Plagiarism is still plagiarism irrespective of medium.

Kevan

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