Online Video Services, IP & Digital Rights Management, Video, Vlogging and Screencasting: A Guide To What's Out There And How To Use It In Your Classr
In this chapter from the forthcoming second edition of Coming of Age, Leon Cych considers:
- The Growth Of Video Sharing Sites And Services
- Cheaper Technology – Easier Dissemination
- Economic And Cultural Aspects
- The Pro-Am Era
- The Long Tail
- Why Advertising Makes For Cheap Video Hosting
- The Brake Of Copyright
- Convergence Culture: Adhocracy And Affinity Spaces – Put That Nintendo Down
- Adhocracies – Put That Nintendo Down!
- DOPA – Government Legislation
- Intellectual Property And Digital Rights Management
- New Licencing Schemes
- Virtual Learning Networks
- Specialist Educational Licenses
- Research In To Teaching And Learning With Video
- Digtal Literacies & IP
- The Wipo Broadcast Treaty – Larger Geographical Copyright Laws
- Acceptable Use Policies
The Growth Of Video Sharing Sites And Services
Video on the web is one of the hottest yet most complex issues facing educators today. In the last year (2006) the making, uploading and sharing of amateur videos on the internet has grown exponentially.
According to the Guardian Newspaper:
"Almost 40% of internet users download and watch videos on the web, according to a survey of 10,000 consumers. Reflecting the explosion in networking websites such as Bebo and video download sites YouTube, the research also found that just over half of all young people (54%) want to create or share their own content on the web. "(1)
A lot of this activity has come from school age children freely registering from home on web 2.0 video sharing sites – however this sudden interest in making and disseminating such compelling content is not being reflected in schools.
This chapter will attempt to analyse and outline some of the web 2.0 services, resources and issues surrounding the use of networked video that can be used effectively in the schools sector and beyond at the present time.
During 2006 there has been a massive rise in the popularity of video sharing sites (at the time of writing YouTube appears (2) to be the most popular and with that interest, an equally burgeoning community of users.
Why now, in the last year when Vlogging (VideoBlogging) has certainly been around since 2003, and not before? Well the answer is, simplicity of use and ease of communication. Before, if you wanted to put video online you would have to know how to get the Digital Video from your camera into a computer and then from that computer out onto a specialised media server and you would have to have encoded it yourself, written the HTML to put it on your own site incurring massive bandwidth and hosting costs if more than a handful of people wanted to watch it.
Cheaper Technology – Easier Dissemination
Now sites like YouTube, MySpace and many others make it easy to upload the file through your browser automatically in a few minutes on the fly without any technical expertise needed – what is more, the movie is then kept on the server and hosted for free. It can then be tagged by viewers and comments can be made between logged in users, The whole process is completely transparent – the technology is invisible.
In many cases, for talking head videos (Vlogs), you do not even need a Digital Video camera but a cheap webcam. The process has been streamlined and made so simple that millions of people have taken advantage of these new services. You can even email video straight from a mobile phone to a website. In short, DV cameras, webcams, DVD recorders and computers have all become cheaper, larger bandwidth broadband services have made far more penetration into students' homes and the ability to edit and upload film to online services has become easier and faster. It seems to be a win-win situation...
But obviously educators have to be wary of these conditions and be circumspect about why internet savvy organisations should suddenly offer such freebies and at such a massive cost to the providers.
The whole industry is in a state of flux and nothing that appears so, may be persistent, in even six months time. Whilst writing this piece I have had to change my resource content several times a week and sometimes daily because of new developments and consolidations in the video services industries therefore I will not come down on the side of any one service apart from the academic and non-profit ones like Ourmedia.org but rather look at generic services and recommend that educators bear in mind that it is your and your schools' or education communities' data you are dealing with when using these sites.
It may sound implausible and a bit churlish, but where and when you store your data and by that I mean video content and personal details, is highly dependent on the market factors of the hosting companies. Although there may be a rich environment for seemingly "free" storage at the present time, that may not always be the case or it may become trivial – only time will tell.
It is also important to look at the economic, cultural and political issues behind the rise of these sites as well before tackling what is out there for effective use in the classroom or in the wider educational community.
Economic And Cultural Aspects
As this is a book all about Education 2.0 – the web 2.0 services and resources that can be used with education, it is interesting to look at the phenomenon in the context of current writing, research and theories outlining how the economic and cultural conditions for such a rapid upsurge in use came about, was fostered and where it might be going; without this you cannot make an informed judgement as an educator where to host your students' video content, what services to use or how to effectively monitor and analyse student generated content in/outside of the educational institution or in the wild; there is too much choice and by presenting the options and contexts this chapter may be of some small help in acting as a filter for your decisions of use or co-opting of use in the formal and informal educational worlds.
In many ways these worlds are beginning to clash and with the advent of learning platforms and networked learning these technologies will become a disruptive influence in traditional education. Learning how to navigate, assimilate and co-opt those conflicts are one the main concerns of this chapter.
The Pro-Am Era
Previously passive viewers of video are now becoming producers of media by filming and uploading media often in what are called vlogs. We are all suddenly in a Pro-Am(4) (professional/amateur) age where the distinction between a mainstream broadcast filmmaker and anyone with a video camera are becoming blurred because the means of production have become so cheap or much cheaper, the mechanics of distribution is almost costless (to the user not the provider) and the expertise to make film becoming more and more automated, streamlined, simpler and transparent.
The Long Tail
This has led to a sudden grassroots upsurge of immense diversity of content and together with such features as user groups, channels and tagging, has enabled commercial hosting companies to tap into what is called the Long Tail phenomenon of marketing.
Whereas before specialist niche user groups used video on community TV and terrestrial broadcast channels especially in the US they never really became successful or widely viewed, the reason being that they were limited by a combination of geographical reach and tiny numbers of user interest. The medium was transmissive, broadcast and not interactive – no wonder no-one watched.
Why Advertising Makes For Cheap Video Hosting
But now, in essence, sites like YouTube have such a rich and diverse user base and such an easy interactive means of pulling people together with similar interests over a vast geographical area that the economics of offering specialised advertising is more realistic.
The companies can leverage this, to generate advertising and viral marketing (word of mouth recommendation) based on popular videos that emerge from the morass of content – that same user base is also a ripe, lucrative and ready consumer market for niche products and specialised commercial channels. A whole new way of selling stuff that people really are interested in.
Companies can now personalise their brands and target specific consumers. To give a direct example – my son likes and is learning folk fiddle, together with his teacher with whom I am making a series of educational videos, I entered the search term "fiddle" – I immediately got from the search engine at, in this case, YouTube, a number of highly relevant videos that were tagged by users and video filmmakers showing people teaching or playing the instrument – some of them were trailers for websites that offered to teach me using video that could be paid for and downloaded onto a MP3 or video MP3 player such as the iPod, iRiver, Zen, Zune etc. That is only one small niche of millions of users in different specialist areas that would probably pay to advertise their wares in the long run or have advertisers pay to surround their generated content with adverts – in this case a country or folk music company – a sheet music store.
Sites like YouTube aggregate that content and have a ready made database populated by the user group to whom they can sell specialised services by way of advertising. That is why hosting is free and uploading made easy as pie; it is a marketing researcher's dream.
The Brake Of Copyright
But at the present time the most successful video upload sites are not using advertising, why? Because their user base has decided to ignore the traditional rules surrounding Intellectual Property Rights in broadcast video and upload in most cases videos remixing mainstream broadcast material, whole trailers copyrighted to news corporations and a variety of mashups of commercial and amateur media content in between. If YouTube were to put a "pre or post-roll" (an advert at the beginning or end of the video) in each film uploaded they would immediately be sued by the major news, media and Hollywood corporations. That this has not happened so far probably due to the fact that the site is seen as a potential cash cow and many firms who sued YouTube at first are now doing deals over waiving content whilst the company itself is being pump-primed by investors hoping for massive financial returns. In the meantime several other major players are entering the market, especially Microsoft, and the whole arena is in flux. That is the background you have to consider when putting any students' work up online and there are other considerations...Another reason is that the user group are the creators or co-creators of the content and they help determine what brands or products get chosen or are popular...
Convergence Culture: Adhocracy And Affinity Spaces – Put That Nintendo Down...
Culturally the rise of user generated content on video blogging and sharing sites are part of an ongoing process observed by Henry Jenkins called the Convergence Culture. He points out early on in his book of the same name: "Much contemporary discourse about convergence starts and ends with what I call the Black Box Fallacy. Sooner or later, the argument goes, all media content is going to flow through a single black box into our living rooms (or, in the mobile scenario, through black boxes we carry around with us everywhere we go)...Part of what makes the black box concept a fallacy is that it reduces media change to technological change and strips aside the cultural levels we are considering here." Let's take the case of stories – at first word of mouth, then written down and scribed, then printed, then recorded, then filmed, then digitised, then hyperlinked. The media's cultural significance doesn't change but the means of transmission and dissemination does or evolves. It is not about the technical aspects, they will change, but about the cultural contexts and ways in which people gather together to construct meaning and knowledge – that is what is important to us as educators.
Adhocracies – Put That Nintendo Down!
The phenomenon of millions of users uploading video content has been anticipated and some commentators have called this and similar web based user activity Adhocracies where people flock together when the conditions are right to construct informal knowledge communities in what are called by James Gee "affinity spaces". These often coalesce outside the mainstream education community and are often fan or specialist interest based and may remain relatively unaffected by it – as is certainly the case at present.
As Henry Jenkins points out:
"Nobody is anticipating a point where all bureaucracies will become adhocracies. Concentrated power is apt to remain concentrated. But we will see adhocracy principles applied to more and more different kinds of projects. Such experiments thrive within convergence culture, which creates a context where viewers – individually and collectively – can reshape and recontextualize mass-media content."
This is highly compelling to users and we should be trying to co-opt this cultural activity for use in schools but schools and institutions appear resistant – Jenkins continues:
"Many schools remain openly hostile to these kinds of experiences, continuing to promote autonomous problem solvers and self-contained learners. Here, unauthorized collaboration is cheating...Media are read primarily as threats rather than as resources. More focus is placed on the dangers of manipulation rather than the possibilities of participation, on restricting access – turning off the television, saying no to Nintendo – rather than in expanding skills at deploying media for one's own ends, rewriting the core stories our culture has given us. One of the ways we can shape the future of media culture is by resisting such disempowering approaches to media literacy education. We need to rethink the goals of media education so that young people can come to think of themselves as cultural producers and participants and not simply as consumers, critical or otherwise."
DOPA – Government Legislation
In the United States the DOPA (Deletion of Online Predators) Act, had it been passed, would have probably ensured that libraries and schools would not get access to most of the commercial sites in their present form. This would have been a pity –a constraint on cultural activity, innovation and creativity induced by hyperbolic moral panic.
Certainly sites like YouTube currently have areas where there is uploading and sharing of pornography, racism and other inappropriate content and despite an "inappropriate" filter and delete comments button, age related sign-up forms and the ability to take down content, these will be wholly or partially ineffective at deterring the determined student who wants to create, upload and access those areas.
I would argue the use of filtering and other technological methods to stop this just cannot be enforced (computers can't "read" film as they aren't semantically equipped to do so) and that a more efficient and human way would be to build and co-opt responsible communities within institutions to moderate use and operate sanctions if rules are broken and to liaise with the sites concerned to make certain areas child friendly.
But this chapter is an overview of both commercial and institutional services, and seeks to look at what is out there within and without the traditional educational institutions for use of video and vloggers. Certainly there is a situation where institutions especially in the schools sector will be served up a repository of services – a kind of filtered sanitised "media-lite" version that will not be as compelling to users and for the most part it will not be used. Why? Because users will want to draw on as wide and rich and open a content as they can to remix and remash their personalised movies.
IP (intellectual Property law) and the use of DRM Digital Rights Management by large corporations to constrain use or reuse of video or broadcast content is also another reason cited for not using content on Web 2.0 sites within education but this also is a bar to creative development and will stifle innovation and creativity. This area, in particular, at present, is being challenged by the rising popularity of YouTube and their ilk driven by the promise of massive financial rewards.
Intellectual Property And Digital Rights Management
IP and DRM are also important issues for educators and facilitators when considering how to go forward with teaching and learning using and generating video based media. On the one hand there has suddenly sprung up a ready made arena that can be populated by a rich variety of user generated video content as in the commercial video sharing sites and on the other a lockdown of activity in education due to copyright constraints, new copyright laws and treaty initiatives.
Content cannot usually be remixed in schools by pupils because of Intellectual Property and DMR Digital Rights Management issues unless under a fair use or specific licensing agreement.
DRM is usually a series of technologies that restrict usage or copying of media. DRM'd content usually cannot be disaggregated, disassembled, backwards engineered and reconstructed; at least legally it can't. But most DRM systems are quickly cracked and most any video or audio can be ripped off of the internet even streaming media, again – not legally.
Most IP and DRM issues in video media stem from the fact that professional producers of content argue that their underlying rights to content are being undermined and they are denied recurring revenues for their work.
In probably the largest experiment of releasing open content to the world the BBC CREATIVE ARCHIVE (now closed due to a review by governors), schools in the UK could generally allow teachers and pupils to :
• search for legally cleared content – from extracts to whole programmes
• preview and download non-broadcast quality versions
• modify and create their own versions
• share with others and the BBC – on a non-commercial basis
But underlying rights concerns by producers could still bar certain parts of programmes (extracts of music, voiceovers, fill in video, soundtrack, background images, performers/ presenters contributions – the list goes on and on) that do not have copyright clearance. And these rights are also often linked to territorial contracts as well compounding the problem. A mechanism for releasing the clearance on these underlying rights generally within any educational system would be first thing to tackle otherwise it will become a barrier to innovation.
New Licencing Schemes
Learning institutions like to have repositories – they like keeping "stuff" locked in one place – they often don't like sharing it beyond a walled garden and this does have its place in the lifecycle of learning objects but it is a bar to use especially when the predominant culture in the "real world" is frantically telling new stories, creating new content using all and every narrative means possible to recombine, co-author, re-contextualise and remix.
In effect, what repositories do, is gatekeep content – it's not a truly interactive process and with video media the interest in remixing and reauthoring and knowledge building has been shown to be actively embraced by the younger generation. It is almost as if they are literate in these ways of storytelling and narrative and institutions do not have the infrastructure or mindset to cope with these new literacies – which are – of course, just the old ones in a new guise.
Virtual Learning Networks
As virtual learning networks grow beyond the school there is going to be an increasing issue with transparency of sharing multimedia learning materials. Already video networking sites like YouTube provide an arena where users can coalesce around and create knowledge in many cases in the form of completely open content free from IP and DRM restrictions. Well, at the present time, to be honest, their user base ignores them completely
Whether it will continue as it does at present is a moot point but the cultural activity of the desire to remix, mashup and reauthor media is here to stay as evidenced by 65,000 uploads a day and a Million views on YouTube alone and there are upwards of 15 + such video sharing clones and services online.
Specialist Educational Licenses
In the UK there is a licence (ERA) educational institutions can use to disseminate video materials over school servers and networks and, in some cases, in context, excerpts can be ripped for use in lessons. Although it allows the ripping and tagging of clips and their inclusion in PowerPoints within educational institutions by teachers it is still very much a transmissive model of education; it does not cover students copying, amending and distributing media based source video that is copyright.
The ERA recording license and similar formal or ad-hoc ones around the world do not take into consideration the fact that VLE (Virtual Learning Platforms) are increasingly being accessed from outside the home and that learning is going on in an anywhere, anytime basis and remixing content is exactly what students do in the privacy of their own homes and then sharing it with friends over the web.
Research In To Teaching And Learning With Video
In one of the earliest pieces of research the definitive UK BECTA report (Evaluation report of the teaching and learning with digital video assets pilot 2003-2004 ) on the use of digital video assets used in schools – the authors Kevin Burden (Director Cascade, University of Hull) and Theo Kuechel (Research Consultant) prophetically outlined an increasingly realistic scenario three years ago :
"It is important that education and schools become aware of the emergence of digital working processes and make full use of the opportunities offered by digital media. This is important from both a pedagogical and a technical perspective. In A Digitally Driven Curriculum Professor Buckingham argues that there is now a need for a digitally driven curriculum wherein children have to develop critical and analytical skills in order to interpret digital media (Buckingham (ed.), 2001, p 13). In order to enable them to achieve this, he feels that they should be actively involved in producing media. The teachers involved in the project shared this view, pointing out that when repurposing digital video assets and undertaking digital video editing, the deconstructing and re-assembling of the component parts of digital media led to greater understanding on the children's part."
Digtal Literacies & IP
We are talking here about digital literacy – if you don't take stuff apart and analyse it you won't be able to effectively construct it – people are becoming active participants in learning with regard to media rather than passive viewers.
This has now become manifestly true in the enthusiasm for a whole new culture of ripping, mixing and uploading content. Many web 2.0 sites now enable you to upload and edit video online through your browser. Sites like Motionbox, Dabble, Eyespot, Jumpcut and VideoEgg show how popular and easy this is to do making a mockery of IP.
Paul Gerhardt (http://www.ariadne.ac.uk/issue44/gerhardt/ ) Director of the Creative Archive BBC said recently in the July online JISC journal – Ariadne :
"There is also growing evidence that media files are the new currency of the Web. The downloading and sharing of moving image files is driving the latest phase in the growth of the Internet, following the previous waves of text, pictures and music. In 2003, the downloading of video and other files grew to make up slightly more than half (51.3%) of all file sharing in OECD countries, while music downloading fell to 48.6% . The technology now exists for moving images to acquire the same intrinsic characteristics as text: for people to carry with them, to quote from, to manipulate, and to share with others. Almost all of this activity contravenes existing copyright arrangements – particularly broadcasting, which remains geared to providing one or two 'opportunities to view'. "
That viewpoint has rapidly changed again recently and the BBC amongst many other media companies is desperately trying to play catch-up. The head of the BBC's new 'future media and technology' division Ashley Highfield gave a vision of the future speech on the 26th August 2006 at the MediaGuardian Edinburgh International Television Festival.
In an interview with the Financial Times he hinted how "convergence" might happen:
“On the distribution side, offering our programmes and channels on-demand is just the beginning. We must think creatively as to how our audiences want to consume our content: via bbc.co.uk or via YouTube? As whole programmes or atomised and re-aggregated around their interests? A one hour compilation of all the best Stephen Fry clips – from 'QI', 'BlackAdder, 'A little bit of Fry and Laurie' created on the fly from our archive. As video or audio? – I think EastEnders, with audio description, would make good radio drama. And so on."
In the UK the BBC in terms of the Creative Archive initiative which has a large repository of film and video resources, adopted a Creative Archive license for use with schools and this was very territory specific in that the site where multimedia artefacts reside was locked to a UK IP (internet Protocol domain specifically) under terms of its UK license. This is unfortunate in that it excluded British schools overseas and the educational institutions in the Armed Forces which fell foul of such a clause. It also does not address, in some cases, the problem of "underlying license issues" already outlined above.
Also in the UK a report to the common information environment group, using criteria based on Creative Commons licences has begun to address these concerns with an examination of common use and click use licenses – some of their suggestions were:
1. Resources should be made available for reuse unless there is a justifiable reason why they should not.
2. The reuse of resources should be as unconstrained as possible. For example, resources should be made available for commercial reuse as well as non-commercial reuse wherever possible.
3. The range of permitted uses of resources should be as wide as possible, for example, including the right to modify the resource and produce derivative works from it. 4
4. . Reuse should be encouraged by permitting others to redistribute resources on a world-wide basis.
5. Resources should be made directly available and discoverable electronically whenever possible.
6. The conditions of use for each resource should be linked directly to the resource so that they are reusable at the point of discovery..
This study was commissioned by Becta, the British Library, DfES, JISC and the MLA on behalf of the CIE group and whether it is ever implemented remains to be seen.
The reality is increasingly that there will be so much content you cannot build it out – not allowing people to see stuff will be stupid because the sheer volume of video content will be overwhelming – it is a media tsunami about to hit any day now – in fact it has and is washing over society generally except schools. The sanctions following viewing and uploading inappropriate video content will have to be carefully thought through but trying to lockdown the sheer volume of copyrighted content will just be playing the role of a latter day electronic Canute.
A licensing system that accommodates and does not stifle creativity is essential as media becomes freely available to copy, disassemble, reassemble and distribute around these networks and on converged systems such as mobile networks – especially in education. The difference between copying and mass distribution on the one hand and reworking media on the other must be stated and allowed for.
This chapter is concerned with the educator's viewpoint and it is vital that any service used by a teacher, student or institution first read the TOS Terms of Service on any video sharing/ vlogging site – it is not just a question of throwing up a video onto a social networking site and hoping for the best – at present the market in these services is particularly volatile and they may not exist or morph into something altogether different in the long run.
More established academic sites like Ourmedia.org have none of these problems but OurMedia in particular is often down or out of service at the present time. Like it or not the commercial "wild" sites are more reliable at present in the short term. However, more global factors concerning copyright are on the horizon...
The Wipo Broadcast Treaty – Larger Geographical Copyright Laws
Recently the WIPO Broadcast Treaty has been mooted in Geneva – and although hardly anyone in the educational world will have heard of it – this vast new treaty would theoretically grant broadcasters in some countries many new rights and there is a new term in there "webcaster".
Initially it was designed to stop signal theft of broadcast content but since then the whole remit has grown and grown with more and more ambitious clauses to grant new rights to transmitters of media where none previously existed. The impact of the treaty on creators of content could be very far-reaching. Its immediate effect would be to lock away content that is otherwise in the public domain, and make it mandatory that video film makers have to obtain far more consents for the re-use of broadcast clips.
With this treaty each program or fragment that is broadcast could be controlled by both copyright holders and broadcasters simultaneously. Users of broadcast material would then have to get copyright permissions from both groups, creating a completely onerous and unmanageable burden of sourcing for the public in general.
What this means is that broadcasters would suddenly get copyright simply by transmitting materials. Copyright traditionally does not grant authors and artists control unless there is originality and creativity involved. This will shrink the availability of content on the web in the public domain for reuse and will, if passed, stifle and stop at birth a whole new creative flowering, creating a form of cultural and broadcasting hegemony.
It will stop innovation and economic progress by dint of lack of variety because the terms of rights granted would make it extremely opaque for anyone to re-use content under the current terms. It does not appear to be in the public interest but it will be implemented in most countries if signed.
Acceptable Use Policies
But education and Web 2.0 it is about user participation, culture, knowledge and not static pre-defined resources or locking down of content or communication. Video repositories are a visual equivalent of Cut and Paste in many ways...wouldn't it be better just to hand pupils a DV camera and get them to upload film via a Learning Platform from home or school – isn't that so much richer – isn't it much more relevant?
If a school were to have a mechanism whereby the whole community could film, upload, remix and link to relevant film resources inside and outside of a walled garden, wouldn't that be a more involved process – especially if staff and children acted as responsible moderators?
The large media companies are just beginning to get an inkling of this and hopefully they will not kill off the goose that lays the golden egg.
Acceptable Use Policies if used wisely, (and we have yet to get to the point beyond should/ how/ can they be used for video, vlogging and remixing in schools!) would actively provide an environment for students and others to build a more compelling co-operative system of learning and not just be fed sanitised resources or limited access to resources.
If the content is created/ generated by them, they will engage more and if they transgress or are dysfunctional in their use of these new systems it's no different to doing that within the classroom in fact if they do do that, they "are" doing it within the classroom – in fact it's easier to pinpoint and deal with. I feel, here, there is a timidity of vision that will do for us all in the long run if we don't embrace these new technologies to further our role as educators.
(c) 2006 Leon Cych
Leon Cych is a web designer, coder, teacher, poet, artist, broadcaster and journalist. He set up the nationwide poetry networking magazine - Poetry London Newsletter in the 1980’s which later became the print publication Poetry London.
He was an ICT teacher for 23 years and wrote one of the first non-academic school web pages in the UK outlining a virtual tour of the British Museum in 1994. He won the Science Museum’s First STEM Award for teachers and has written online educational resources for the BBC, Science, Franklin and British Museums.
Since becoming a freelance educational consultant he has been involved with a host of innovative educational projects from the world’s first experimental virtual opera to being technical proofer for the Friends of Ed – Masters of Flash resource books.
Currently he spends his time between project managing innovative KS3 music education video software for a large media distribution company in Soho and writing about, filming, blogging and podcasting with key innovators in the UK education sector. In 2005 he was editor of Computer Education for Naace and wrote the Social Networking section of Becta ICT research publication Emerging Technologies for Learning.
He has written regularly for the TES and regularly speaks at ITT events, conferences and keynotes. He is a member of blogs.ac.uk and is an evangelist for blogging and web 2.0 tools in the educational sector in the UK.
His has a podcast blog at http://www.L4L.org.uk/@blog
A personal opinion blog at: http://elgg.net/leoncych/weblog
and a website disseminating useful web 2.0 resources for educators on a daily basis at http://www.L4L.co.uk
He may be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org