It may be the dead of summer, the doldrums of the academic calendar, but multimedia professors — and potentially artists — have plenty of reason to party thanks to new "fair use" rules issued by the U.S. Copyright Office that allow the legal decryption and projection of excerpts of copyrighted material for educational purposes. In addition to meaning that college students will be treated to a great deal more feature-film content in the future, the changes also serve to clear consciences — or, more to the point, any hints of liability — for art students looking to creatively play with copyright-protected multimedia.
"This is very exciting," Patricia Aufderheide, a communications professor and director of the Center for Social Media at American University, told Inside Higher Ed. "We’re doing nothing but chat about this, we’re so excited." Under current rules, professors were required to manually navigate the video content they wanted to show, using cumbersome DVD menus or fast-forwarding through material. Now they can simply slice out the section they want and share it with students, without the fear of a lawsuit.
The "new exemptions to the anti-circumvention provisions of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act," as the bureaucracy has sexily titled the new rules, also apply to other academic forums, like conferences and faculty meetings. Students are also covered. Inside Higher Ed floats tantalizing multimedia learning experiences outside of the art sphere, like using "The Wire" to teach sociology or "Planet Earth" to enliven a natural history course. ARTINFO, for one, dreams of returning to school and learning about Dutch painting with the help of Peter Greenaways documentary "Rembrandt's J'accuse."