Sunday, October 12, 2008

Feedback on "Netflix for Schools"

Thanks everyone for your great insights on my question regarding a Netflix subscription for my school library. I did a lot of follow up based on your comments. In a nutshell, my findings showed that a school subscription is most likely a form of copyright infringement. However, I am not the only librarian who has dreamed up this idea. In fact, I read of two libraries who implemented the idea. Both were public libraries. One was in Rhode Island another in New York.

I even read a Newsweek article that explained how a small town video rental shop used Netflix to broaden the offerings within their collection. Netflix was clearly not in favor of this practice, but conceded they have very few ways of policing this sort of activity.

This notion brought me to Netflix's web site. On the Terms of Use page under Intellectual Property it states, "The use of the Netflix service, including DVDs rented to you by us is solely for your personal and non-commercial use." Libraries, even school libraries, are non-commercial users, but the personal aspect is questionable. Perhaps encouraging staff members to open their own subscriptions would be a way around this language. Maybe?

Darn! It was just too good to be true.

McGinn, D. (2008, March 10). Sure we've got that. Newsweek. Retrieved October 12, 2008, from

Netflix. (2008). Terms of Use. Retrieved October 12, 2008, from

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Netflix for Schools???

I was hoping to gather some input on an idea I had.

Currently, I work as a school librarian and I was considering getting a Netflix subscription for my library. Is this crazy? The idea came to me when trying to make the most of my yearly budget. Ideally, I'd love a well rounded collection of DVDs. Realistically, this will take years to accomplish. I have a personal subscription to Netflix and love it! So I thought, why not subscribe to Netflix?

Throughout my readings I have yet to find a reason why a school system could not have a subscription such as Netflix. Has anyone else? I would appreciate any feedback.

"The Grandest Exception" = Fair Use

I am continuing to read Complete Copyright for my research for this blog. I really enjoy the format as I explained in my first entry. It's a nice departure from the textbooks I have to read. I guess I am starting to behave like the teenagers I work with because I am draw more to the graphics and sidebars. He-he!

My most recent reading has taught me about fair use, "the grandest exception," to copyright. (p19). Fair use is what allows teachers and librarians to use copyrighted works without getting permission from the creator. This idea I had a grasp on, but what I found interesting is that even educators, as well as school librarians, may not always be able to cite fair use when conducting lessons or reviewing student work. Fair use is a broad expression. Educators must consider these four factors when determining if their school project meets the fair use requirements.

#1 - Purpose of the use. Clearly, most school assignmnet are for educational purposes and should be safely under the fair use umbrella. However, consider activites conducted after school. Sports, fundraisers and the like could be teetering on the boundaries of fair use.

#2 - Amount of the whole work. Photocopying a page or two from a text would be a small portion of the whole, and therefore fair use. However, I know of a teacher who photocopied an entire novel for her classroom when funds were not available to purchase a class set of books! Without doubt she has stepped outside of the fair use boundary.

#3 - Nature of the publication. If a student work goes unpublished and is largely facutal in nature, for example a web site on Benjamin Franklin the teacher's assignment is acceptable according to fair use.

#4 - Effect on the market. Take my example from above, this particular teacher's act infringed on the opportunity to sell that novel, thereby effecting the market for sale. This is not fair use.

What I took away from this evening's readings is educators need to weigh these factors when making decisions for their schools and classrooms. Fair use is a grand exception, but only for the right conditions. We must still exercise good judgement when it comes to matters of copyright.

Russell, C. (Ed.). (2004). Complete copyright: An everyday guide for librarian. American Librarians Association.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Copyright Basics

I don't know about anyone else, but I am not very familiar with even the basics of copyright. At the conlcusion of last school year I made a goal to learn more about copyright for this school year. This blog is proving to be the perfect opportunity to achieve my goal. So over the summer I purchased the book Complete Copyright: An Everyday Guide for Librarians. It was recommended by the ALA in a leaflet they mailed me. The book is colorful and quirky. It has lots of sidebars and tidbits. I've completed the first chapter and its really made a dull, albiet important, topic fun to read about. In just the first chapter I learned some important basics.
  • Copyright protects expressions, not ideas. For example, an idea for a love song cannot be copyrighted. The song must exist as a recording or written music to constitute an expression. (p.2)
  • Certain expressions cannot be copyrighted. For example, a calendar or a list of ingredients. A recipe, however, can be protected; such as Colonel Sanders's recipe for Kentucky Fried Chicken.(p.4)
  • Once an expression is in a concrete medium, for example, a drawing, it has a degree of copyright protection. That means even a doodling on a notebook corner, has copyright protection. (p. 3)
  • In order to file a law suit, the expression in question must be registered at with the U.S. Copyright Office. Simply visit (p.4)
  • Public domain is information that is no longer protected by copyright. There are many public domain web sites, such as that has free electronic texts and e-books. (p.7)

Russell, C. (Ed.). (2004). Complete copyright: An everyday guide for librarian. American Librarians Association.