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[teacherartexchange] Mock Copyright Trial With A Twist


From: Rebecca Burch (mamallama_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Wed Sep 09 2009 - 08:10:09 PDT

Hi, everyone! A few of you wanted me to post something after doing my
Mock Copyright Trial lesson, and I'm happy to report that it was a

To recap, I basically took Craig Roland's webquest "Deciding the Fate
of Sherrie Levine" and substituted Sherrie Levine for Shepard Fairey.
I know the Fairey case is more complicated than this, but for the sake
of making this easier for high schoolers to decide, we assumed that
Mannie Garcia (the AP photographer who took the photo Fairey allegedly
used to create his "Hope" Obama poster) was suing Shepard Fairey for
copyright infringement. We then used the basic format of Craig's
webquest, allowing Sherrie Levine and the other artists to step in as
witnesses. We also made a few students members of the AP to speak on
behalf of photojournalists.

This worked really well, for a few reasons:

1. I've had a copy of the Hope poster hanging in my classroom since
this time last year, so finding something familiar in the midst of a
huge controversy got their attention.
2. There is a well-loved kid in one of the class who is sort of a
graffiti-artist and is constantly getting in trouble for his "art"
(which is darn good, despite the fact that it's vandalism and against
the law) and of course, he jumped at the chance to portray Fairey. He
did the role justice, too!
3. Using a current controversy made the lesson more fun, because more
news on the case is literally coming in every day, so kids would get
very excited about being the first to bring new news to me as it
showed up on the 'net.

It was a blast! We really had a blast, and kids were very passionate
about their roles. I played the "judge" simply to keep order in our
"court" and keep the trial rolling, and I'm glad I did because the
trial could have gone on for weeks, I think!

The kids really understand copyright, appropriation, and fair use,
now. Craig's mock trial has always been a great lesson for this, and
we are really fortunate that this case happened when it did, so we
could take advantage of a "teachable moment!"

Thanks again, Craig, for what has become a favorite lesson in my
classroom! I hope you don't mind us changing it up a little bit.

Rebecca Burch
Charleston Catholic H.S.
Charleston, WV

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