Thursday, March 22, 2012

Copyright Infringement

I'm working in the media center at the high school. I have a little down time, and I try to finish reading "The Database and the Essay" by Johndan Johnson-Eilola in Writing New Media. However, I have decided to take a moment to vent my frustration. Maybe I'm totally taking it the wrong way, but I think people have gone sue crazy. Remember that lady who bought a hot McDonald's coffee and then sued them for not warning her it was hot. Come on! You just bought a hot coffee. Do you expect it to be cold?

I'm reading the court cases the Johnson-Eilola references, and it just makes me slightly irritated. Today's society is so stuck on owning things that I feel many people are losing the drive to become creative because they might step on someone's toes.

I've taught high school English, and I love when an assignment is able to finally make their light bulb click on. I love creativity. I feel every student has something to say. It's just a matter of finding a way for them to say it that works for them. Every student can write; it's just a matter of finding out HOW they write.

I know, it seems as if I'm jumping all over the place. Trust me, I'm going somewhere with this. Anyway, imagine if someone were to come in my high school English classroom and peruse my students' writings. Many of them would probably be brought to court for stealing someone else's work. Now, I don't mean as in plagiarism, which I'll give a brief comment on that in a second. I mean as in originality of the work.

Every person (not just my high school students) is influenced and impacted by the world around them, whether it is music, movies, books, etc.  Now many times, how they respond and relate to that influence could come out in their writing. Is this really wrong? I don't think is. I think the important thing is that they are writing and expressing themselves. This would mean that half of the words written on a blog (I made up this statistic; it might very well be more than half) are not original. What do you expect when you live in a world with billions of people, and billions more who have existed over the past few thousand years that have left their mark on society?

As for plagiarism, I believe that is a different thing entirely. If you KNOWINGLY cite someone's work, you should give them the credit. If you do it unknowingly, well...that's a different matter. I think a lot of creativity could be lost due to the emphasis on copyrighting and copyright infringement. Yes, there is an importance in it, but if too much emphasis is put in it, it might deter people from writing (or being creative, in general). As a teacher, I want to teach my kids to desire literacy, not pull away from it. Okay, I think I'm done ranting. I'll go finish reading what Johnson-Eilola has to say.

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