Thursday, March 25, 2010

Copyright in the Classroom

For my class presentation, I discussed the potential for copyright infringement educators and students face when simply pulling images off the web for PowerPoints, activities, and assignments. It's easy to use Google Images as a resource, but it may not always be legal. Copyright means that a person (or a company or school) owns the rights to their created work (a song, image, blog post, video, curriculum, etc). All rights to use or distribute the creation are reserved by the copyright holder.

Does this mean that every time you want to use an image you should get your lawyer on the phone? Not exactly - there is some breathing room under the label of fair use. Here are the terms surrounding fair use, found in Section 107 of the US copyright law:

Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include —

(1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a
commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;

(2) the nature of the copyrighted work;

(3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the
copyrighted work as a whole; and

(4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the
copyrighted work.

The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors (

Everybody clear on that? No? Me neither. As with all laws, there are various interpretations of fair use. Does number 3 mean that you can only show part of a TV episode in class, or are you allowed to play the entire show? Could you let your students rewrite the lyrics to a popular song to perform in class, using the original instrumental as background music? Can you include that image you found online in your PowerPoint or should you email the photographer first?

How do you know? What are your options as an educator? What can you do? Should you call or email the owner of the copyright (or their lawyers) and ask for permission? Just use the content and hope that no one takes issue with a possible copyright violation?

What am I doing in my classes? I'm getting creative with the help of artists, educators, and others from all around the world by using their works. Content that they actually want me to use. This system of sharing is known as Creative Commons. Want to know more? Check out this video...

Let's take that video, for example. How did I know I could post it here? I found it here and thought it would be perfect for this post (honestly, I kinda built my post and class presentation around it). After clicking on the link, you will see this symbol underneath the media player.

This is the owner's Creative Commons License. This particular license tells you that you are free to copy, share, distribute, and remix (adapt) the material - as long as you aren't using it commercially and you attribute it to the creator. This video was posted to by the Creative Commons organization. There. I just upheld my part of the bargain. I attributed the content to the owners and am not selling it. I could have put my own vocal track behind it, or edited it to only play a specific part. I can show it in class or broadcast it on another file sharing site. That is what their license allows. How do you know what their license allows? Click on the image beneath the media player on the page and you will see all the details (it is too large of a graphic to embed here - sorry!).

This is only one type of Creative Commons license - some allow for commercial use. Others do not allow remixing or adaptation. How do you know what license is used? You can find a quick and easy guide here.

How can you begin using Creative Commons (I'm going to use the CC abbreviation from here on out) content in your classrooms today? It's easy - not quite as easy as jacking items from a Google Image search - but who wants to use the same pics as everyone else anyway? One of the first places to look is the photo and video sharing site flickr (you may need to create an account to access all content - particularly if you are looking for sexuality materials). Not everyone on flickr uses a CC license, but many folks do. The easiest way to find CC content is to use their advanced search feature. Type in the search terms - I used "transgender youth" - and scroll to the very bottom of the page. Then be sure to click the box that searches only CC licensed photos and videos. Click search and...

Awesome. That photo was taken by flickr user "[insert stereotypical label here]" and can be found here. Their CC license says that I can use it, but not remix or adapt it, and that I can't use it for commercial purposes. All I need to do is attribute the picture to the photographer, which I just did. It's that simple.

Another site with fewer choices, but really interesting images, is fotopedia. I searched for "sexuality" and came up with this CC licensed gem...

It was actually taken from a flickr account as well and posted on the fotopedia site. The photographer's user id is "derpunk", and their CC license says I can use it for non-commercial purposes, and adapt it as well. This license also has one additional restriction, known as "share-alike." If I did alter the image (can anyone think of funny thought bubbles we could photoshop on the happy couple?), I have to license the work in the same way as the original. Meaning simply, I can't make the terms of use for my derivative work more or less restrictive than the original picture's.

Wikimedia Commons is another great place to find CC licensed (and public domain) images. I searched for "sex", clicked on a couple of the tags, and came across this image (again from a flickr
user) taken by "Noodle." The license for this image is the same as the one described for the turtles that are slowly...getting...busy.

Another site worth checking out is the Brooklyn Museum, which has thousands of images of artwork online, many of which are CC licensed (just don't forget to check the CC box in the advanced search options). This image has no known copyright restrictions, and the museum provides a bio of the artist, Lilly Martin, who supported her husband and family by painting pictures of women in traditional gender roles.

Brooklyn Museum: Kiss Me and You'll Kiss the 'Lasses

These are just a few of the amazing images you can find with just a little effort. Once you start looking at the gorgeous and thought provoking photos, you may never want to go back to Google Images. And after learning about copyright and Creative Commons, you may decide to share some of your own creations - images, videos, lessons, or activities under a CC license. Utilizing and contributing to the CC community will help to raise awareness of of the movement, and that will ultimately mean more content that you can be sure is is free, simple, and easy to use.

Ryan McKee

*As with any info on copyright you will find on the web, this post is not meant to be taken as legal advice. It is intended only to get you thinking about the way you use resources in the classroom, the rights of the creators, and the vibrant CC community that is emerging around art and education.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Education for Postpartum Depression

I spoke to a friend recently about pregnancy, specifically when and where information is provided. We both agreed that the time right after labor to several weeks after birth is the most formidable time for new parents. In this time parents are plagued by lack of sleep, putting more tension on an already stressful time. Some people are lucky enough to have family and friends present in this time to help the new parents adjust to the daunting task of making life changes for a new addition. What happens for those that do not have the support of friends and family? What happens when parents are not able to deal with the stressors of new parenthood?

The National Institute of Health (NIH) estimates that up to 15% of new mothers have symptoms of postpartum depression (National Institute of Health, 2005). Postpartum depression symptoms can include, but are not limited to feeling: tired, antsy, little motivation, and decreased appetite (National Institute of Health, 2005). All of which can be misconstrued as typical feelings after having a baby. So how can we as educators better identify these signs?

Although we may never aspire to become parents, it is important to support those around us in their sexuality-related endeavors. A good way to look out for a friend or family member is to keep updated about the new family’s adjustments. Let the new parents know there are a number of biological, physical, emotional, and social changes that occur after the birth of a child. If symptoms seem to continue weeks after birth, talk to the person about how you can help. Reassure the new parents that they need not take on everything themselves. Recommend to the new parents that they seek out help from medical professionals, as ignoring can lead to harm of oneself, or the baby. Many treatments are available, and can be very effective. The following resources provide additional information about postpartum depression:

Bodnar, D., Ryan, D., & Smith, J. E. (n.d.). Self-care program for women with postpartum depression and anxiety. Provincial Reproductive Medical Health. Retrieved from

National Institute of Health (2005). Understanding postpartum depression: Common but treatable. News in Health. Retrieved from


Friday, March 12, 2010

Client Comfort in Addressing Human Sexuality Issues

My original blog topic was an extension of Sandra's with a focus on culture and sexuality in Kenya. I typed my blog and saved it as a word document on my laptop ready to post on my designated blog date.

On Monday afternoon one of the staff assistants where I work asked if I could fill in as the guest speaker for the staff assistant retreat (target audience being female aged 35-55), since the scheduled presenter canceled. The retreat was Tuesday, less than 24 hours away. I asked if I could choose the topic. I ran a few ideas by her. She declined each of my suggestions and said that the subject matter I was focusing on would make everyone uncomfortable. Even though my certification as a nurse practitioner is in family practice, I have been exclusive to college and women's health for the past 9 years. All of my suggestions for the presentation were related to sexual health. The staff assistant was adamant that any female sexual health topic would not be well received. We agreed I would speak on Lyme's disease.

I started a literature search knowing that I had only a few hours to prepare for a fun afternoon workshop on Lyme's Disease. It is ironic that my computer has never experienced problems with the many human sexuality literature searches I have explored. Early in my Lyme's Disease literature search my computer crashed. Presently my computer is still under care of the IT Department who said it received a virus from one of the Lyme's sites I visited. This conundrum left me with no computer to prep for the Lyme's Disease workshop and no means of retrieving my previously completed blog. I learned 2 valuable lessons. First, I should always back up my material and second, I should never assume people have comfort with human sexuality issues.

Chris spoke about sexuality education training for practitioners in her blog. I challenge each of you to assist your clients/patients with being comfortable in discussing human sexuality issues.

Patient comfort in sharing sexual information is important to the client - practitioner relationship. Less than 1/3 of patients feel comfortable discussing sexual concerns with their providers, with only 10% of patients spontaneously discussing concerns if not prompted by their provider (Parish & Clay, 2007). Often when the office visit is complete and the practitioner and patient are exiting the exam room a "by the way..." conversation about a sexual concern begins. Embarrassment and lack of time is evident.

Patient comfort is important to alleviate embarrassment and establish a positive provider-client relationship. Patient comfort can be established by respecting diversity, offering an open environment for discussion and sincerity to understand other attitudes, beliefs, opinions and behaviors.

Prior to the Lyme's Disease workshop, the staff assistant told the audience our story of my ideas for a topic and her concerns about my choices. I then mentioned that if I started to feel uncomfortable talking about Lyme's Disease, I might have to change the subject to my comfort zone of human sexuality issues. The audience enjoyed our opening and suggested I pick the topic next time:)

Please feel free to explore more about patient comfort in addressing human sexuality issues with providers in the article listed below.

Parish, S. & Clayton, A. H. (2007). Sexual medicine education: review and commentary. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 4(2), 259-267.


Friday, March 5, 2010

Sexuality Education As Justice Making

This is not the blog I had intended to post. I’m scrambling at the last minute, putting aside my original work. I tossed and turned all night thinking about our work as sexuality educators and the profound impact we can have on cultural attitudes towards poverty; specifically its effect on women and girls. You are probably not surprised given the comments I made in class about this issue.

My restlessness was brought on by going to the movie theatre last night to celebrate International Women’s Day organized by the authors of Half the Sky and CARE (a humanitarian organization). The set-up was a live concert streamed from the Skirball center at NYU, which included musical performances by artists like India Arie and Diane Birch. Several celebrities read excerpts of women’s stories from the book (Marisa Tomei, Maria Bello, Sarah Ferguson). It also featured a short film of one of the stories of a girl named Woinshet from Ethiopia. She was the victim of the cultural practice of bride abduction, where a girl is kidnapped and raped by a man who then forces her to marry him afterward to avoid paying a dowry as well as any punishment for the rape. It was the first of several documentaries to be made into a TV series that will tell these women’s stories to an even wider audience.

Half the Sky, through its Pulitzer-prize wining authors, exposes three major abuses of women: sex trafficking and forced prostitution; gender-based violence including honor killings and mass rape; maternal mortality, which needlessly claims one woman a minute.

During the panel discussion each panelist responded similarly to the question of what can be done: EDUCATION. The dominant theme of this presentation was the power of education. It is one of the Millennium goals of the United Nations (United Nations, 2000). There are groups of people, including Woinshet, who travel throughout Ethiopia educating women AND men.

This is some SERIOUS education. This is not like writing a lesson plan on how to effectively use a condom or the benefits of masturbation. I can’t imagine a koosh ball activity that could stop a group of men from gang raping a young girl.

I expect to be confronted with the effects of poverty on sexuality in my work here in the United States. I expect this because poverty is very real here. The 2006 American Community Survey of the U.S. Census Bureau indicates that 13.3% of Americans live in poverty. Women and children represent a significant portion of this population (Michigan Domestic Violence and Treatment Board, 2008).

How can we maximize our effectiveness in this culture of poverty? Research shows an undeniable link between poverty and sexual violence (Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape, 2007). To me it is the “ism” that is at the root of many of the other “isms” we encounter.

Sarah Ferguson suggested that each of us develop a discipline of gratitude and that this discipline be the basis for our efforts. Then we act.

Today’s blog asks you to identify your gratitude, to claim it; then to ponder how you as an educator can act. Think about the career path you may choose, the curriculum and programs you will create, the organizations with which you will associate, your relationships with colleagues, the dissertation you will write. On our first day of class, Dr. Dyson asked us to consider the role of culture and other influences on our community partners/target group.

How does poverty influence your group in any way? I look forward to your responses.

And to a good night’s sleep.

Your colleague,

Kristof, N. and WuDunn, S. (2009). Half the sky. Knopf Publishers, New York:New York

Michigan Domestic Violence and Treatment Board (2008). The intersection of poverty and sexual violence. Retrieved from

Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape (2007). Poverty and sexual violence: building prevention and intervention responses. Retrieved from

United Nations Millennium Development Goals (2000). Retrieved March 5, 2010 from