URI’s Harrington School chief to testify in Washington

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Renee Hobbs to speak Monday against restrictive video copyright law

Renee Hobbs can be reached over the weekend at 978-201-9799

KINGSTON, R.I. – June 1, 2012 — Renee Hobbs, the director of the University of Rhode Island’s Harrington School of Communication and Media, will testify Monday, June 4, before the U.S. Office of Copyright. She will argue on behalf of kindergarten through grade 12 teachers’ ability to use clips of copy-protected videos for teaching and learning.

In 1998, Congress made it a crime to bypass copy-protected software on movie DVDs by passing the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. But this law also abridged the doctrine of fair use, which states that people can, under some circumstances, use excerpts of copyrighted materials to advance knowledge. Congress recognized this and created a special provision of the law that enables people to request exemptions once every three years.

Hobbs says in her prepared testimony that for years college faculty have benefited from exemptions, but kindergarten through grade12 educators still lack similar protection.

She argues that some draw an arbitrary line between college professors who show their 18-year-old students a clip of the documentary Planet Earth and the high school teachers who show their 18 year-old students the same clip.

“This differentiation is illogical and baseless,” she says in her remarks. “College professors and K-12 teachers are equally in need of quality media because of the ever-blurring line between high school and college curricula.

“Educators need to stand up for their right to make fair use of copyrighted materials– and movies are an important resource for all teachers,” Hobbs said. “That’s why I’m going to Washington to ask the copyright office for an exemption so that K-12 teachers can legally make clip compilations— short excerpts of movies to use in teaching.”

A summary of Hobbs’ argument can be found at: http://mediaeducationlab.com/seeking-exemption-enable-k-12-teachers-rip-videos.

Hobbs filed a petition on behalf of educators who use lawfully obtained audiovisual works for educational purposes.

“It’s a very formal hearing process — and I only have 10 minutes to make my case. Of course, the Motion Picture Association of America will be there to oppose my request. But it’s important to be an advocate for educators’ rights under the law,” Hobbs said.

Renee Hobbs is a professor and founding director of the Harrington School of Communication and Media at the University of Rhode Island. The Harrington School brings together departments and programs in journalism, film/media, communication studies, public relations, writing and rhetoric and a graduate program in library and information science.